Friday night kicked off Minnesota’s home series against Bemidji State and premiered their new gold sweaters. The Gophers came out strong; with Grace Zumwinkle putting a shot on goaltender Lauren Bench just five seconds into the game and her teammates and her teammates generating chances as well, especially after Lindsey Featherstone took a hooking penalty at 2:48. However, the Beavers killed the penalty and then Clair DeGeorge scored an unassisted goal from close up on the left side at 5:31. A minute later Emily Bergland also put the puck past Alex Gulstene with a falling shot from the right circle at 6:31. Paige Beebe had the lone assist.
Minnesota immediately used their timeout, since the Gophers were not expecting to be down two goals against Bemidji, especially this early in the game. Once play resumed Minnesota seemed a little frantic in their attempts to put the puck in net, which if anything made Bemidji’s job of clearing their zone go more smoothly. A couple minutes after the halfway mark Amy Potomak had a shot into Bench’s chest, which clearly left the freshman frustrated. At 13:45 Kiki Radke earned a tripping penalty, which turned into a lot of Gopher passing and shots. Eventually Crystalyn Hengler put a shot on goal that Bench blocked, but Taylor Heise got the rebound and passed to Emily Oden, who fired from the slot into goal at 15:38.
Netting that first goal took the pressure off Minnesota and they soon scored a second. That time it was Zumwinkle, who slipped it into goal just inside the post on the left side, tying the game at 16:54. Nicole Schammel and Olivia Knowles assisted. Emily Brown then took a cross-checking minor at 17:28, which put Bemidji on their first power play. This allowed DeGeorge to slip the puck through Gulstene’s butterfly defense from just outside the crease at 18:16 thanks to a little assistance from Jacqueline Kaasa and Beebe. The rest of the period had Minnesota on the attack, and Zumwinkle nearly retied the game, but first intermission had the Gophers trailing by one.
The first third of second period was a solid Gopher attack where they boxed Bemidji into their zone and threw everything they had at the net. Featherstone nearly tipped Beebe’s shot and Bergland made an attempt at the crease that Gulstene denied. Then it was back to Bemidji’s zone for more Minnesota shots, including Catie Skaja drilling the puck into Bench’s outstretched glove. As Minnesota continued to buzz Katie Robinson made a shot from the right circle and sent the puck into the top left pocket of the net at 9:53. Oden and Potomak assisted. Energized by this goal, Alex Woken had a breakaway down the right side of center ice and banged home the puck from the doorstep at 11:48, finally putting Minnesota in the lead. Taylor Williamson and Knowles assisted.
Of course this caused the Beavers to surge and a mess at Minnesota’s net before play was whistled down. Gophers got another flurry then Bemidji made four rapid-fire shots on goal from wildly different parts of the zone, which sent Gulstene skittering through her crease, but the puck stayed out of the net. In the final seconds of the period Haley Mack hit Sophie Skarzynski hard enough to send her spinning to the ice and the Gopher took a while to get up and slowly skate off the ice. Mack went to the box for roughing and the penalty carried into third period before expiring.
A few minutes later Bemidji had a nice little flurry. Heise hit the pipe. Then Woken flew down the right side and made a lateral shot into goal while Skaja had Bench distracted at the opposite end of the crease. The play went under review before being declared good, putting the Gophers up 5-3 at 10:02 with an assist going to Patti Marshall. Minnesota remained on the attack and Williamson got a breakaway that was aborted when she fell trying to get a shot off near the crease. However, Schammel had no problem with her shot, after carrying it up the right side, and Taylor Wente tipped it in on the backdoor at 15:37. Zumwinkle had the second assist. Marshall took a slightly delayed cross-checking penalty that kicked in at 15:51 and was uneventful except for Oden attempting a shortie.
Gophers essentially ran out the clock for the last couple of minutes. Honestly, there wasn’t anything the Beavers could do and despite their strong start, Bemidji fell 6-3 to Minnesota after being outshot 37-22. They finish the series Saturday afternoon.