Friday night started the Bemidji series at Ridder Arena. It also kicked off a promotion event, “Fear the Frost Night,” which featured ice cream treats and an altered photo of Minnesota head coach Brad Frost looking like a Frozen character, as seen in the @GopherWHockey twitter feed.
Tonight we're celebrating all things winter & Coach @FrostBrad. ❄️❄️❄️— Minnesota W Hockey (@GopherWHockey) December 2, 2017
Which Gopher do you think does the best impression of Coach Frost? Stay tuned... pic.twitter.com/znTSNOr3Ps
The Beavers came out in full force and Emily Bergland recorded the first shot on goal—which Sidney Peters blocked, but didn’t cover—then tried again with her rebound. It took a couple of minutes for Minnesota to get on the board with a left point shot by Patti Marshall into Lauren Bench’s center mass, but once that happened the Gophers had Bench going from pipe to pipe. In general hockey is a rough sport, but it seemed like a lot of players were hitting the ice tonight, especially coming in for shots. A prime example of this was when Sydney Baldwin tried to come in from the side, tumbled, and crashed into Bench. Then Kiki Radke crashed down into Minnesota’s backboards, Abby Halluska had a near chance, which turned into a mess at the crease before it was eventually cleared to the other end of the rink. Emily Brown had a great flyby attempt down the right side, which Bench denied, and then also fell.
Bemidji put a surprise shot on Peters while she was screened, but she somehow managed to block the puck with the tip of a glove, fell, and then stopped the rebound while lying on her side before it was cleared. However, Minnesota wasn’t as lucky a little later, as Briana Jorde’s left point slap shot ricocheted off a Gopher defender and past Peters into goal before the goalie could do anything at 16:25. Reilly Fawcett had the lone assist. The Beavers spent the rest of the period buzzing and their shot count crept up until it tied Minnesota’s 8-8, though Peters did have a nice glove deflection on a Beaver shot from the left side.
Second period started with more offensive Beavers, but Olivia Knowles’s hard right point shot, which smacked the crease ice and then bounced wide, was the first good chance of the period. Baldwin tried the save move from the left side, but it was equally useless. Grace Zumwinkle carried the puck into Bemidji’s zone on a breakaway and Tina Kampa hooked her, which put Bemidji on a delayed penalty that kicked in at 5:30. The Beavers killed the penalty without giving the Gophers any solid chances. Zumwinkle had another breakaway, but her shot went wide. Kippin Keller went up the right side and had her skates taken out by Fawcett, which sent Fawcett to the box for tripping at 13:04. On the power play Nicole Schammel passed to Zumwinkle in the slot who fired on goal, but Bench deflected it back into the slot. At the same time, Caitlin Reilly was trying to pick up her lost glove, got the puck instead, and slid it home to tie the game at 13:42.
Who needs 2 gloves to score a goal? Not @caitlinreilly95. This powerplay goal...with one glove got @GopherWHockey on the board. They win 3-2 in OT tonight. pic.twitter.com/ltmtLAWMSW— FOX 9 Sports (@Fox9Sports) December 2, 2017
Peters lunged for a save and knocked her net off its moorings, which left Alexis Joyce rather unhappy as she and Lindsay Agnew were sent to the box for roughing during the same play. 4-on-4 commenced at 15:03. With the opened ice it seemed as if the Beavers got even rougher, but the Gophers could finally play the way they intended. Soon Brown’s left point shot went into goal on the left side, putting Minnesota in the lead at 15:35. Marshall and Cara Piazza assisted. Then Reilly had a breakaway down the center, but couldn’t fake out Bench. As the period wound down it seemed that Gophers finally had the game in hand when a bad turnover gave Paige Beebe the chance to race down the right side, fire from the middle of the circle, and put it into goal top shelf past Peters’s glove at 19:08.
Third period started with a deadlock and continued through the end of regulation. This is despite the fact Schammel took a slashing penalty for knocking a stick out of a Beaver’s gloves 45 seconds into the period and Knowles had to briefly leave the game due to what looked like a hand injury. Bemidji continued pressing for a tie breaker, with one Beaver firing on Peters, which landed on her knees, and she came in to smack it into goal, but Peters somehow still managed to block the puck. Bemidji also made a lateral pass through Minnesota’s crease in an attempt to backdoor it, but Peters also denied this attempt. In the latter portion of the period Minnesota had an extended flurry, but they couldn’t find the back of the net either. With 10 seconds left in the period Bemidji used their timeout to break of the Gopher assault, which may have helped them carry the game past the final buzzer into overtime.
Bemidji’s speed and endurance truly has improved over the last several years, as they were not only able to keep up, but pressure Minnesota throughout the game. That continued in overtime and after the first minute or so of the Beaver blitz, things were looking pretty grim for the Gophers. Then the tide changed and the game moved to the other end of the rink. As the clock rapidly ticked down a Gopher fell on a Beaver just outside Bemidji’s crease and the puck skittered back toward the blue line. Zumwinkle got it and rocketed the puck down center ice, banging it home just inside the pipe to Bench’s right. Reilly and Baldwin had the assists on this goal, which came at 4:34 of OT. Minnesota had won 3-2OT, with shots 37-26 also in their favor. The series resumes tomorrow with the annual Teddy Bear Toss at 4pm.