Friday afternoon the Gophers started their final series of the regular season against the Beavers at the Sanford Center in Bemidji. Taylor Wente flew down the left side, fired from the bottom of the circle, and beat goaltender Lauren Bench just 26 seconds into the game. Nicole Schammel and Olivia Knowles assisted. Beaver Kiki Radke made an attempt of her own that bounced off the post, which was followed up by a Jacqueline Kaasa shot that Alex Gulstene blocked. Minnesota put more pressure on Bench and eventually Sarah Potomak scored off Amy Potomak’s centering pass at 4:32. Patti Marshall had the second assist.
Bemidji didn’t let the early setbacks slow them down. Mak Langei snagged the puck after a Gopher misplayed it and then Lindsey Featherstone shot it through Gulstene’s 5-hole at 7:15. Sophie Skarzynski’s shot from the blue line hit the crossbar and on the next play Paige Beebe stole the puck and scored on the breakaway, tying the game at 10:37. The Gophers made several concerted pushes until Kelly Pannek scored off Sarah Potomak’s feed from behind the net at 14:22. Amy Potomak had the second assist. At 18:07 Schammel went for checking and while Clair DeGeorge set Beebe up for a nice attempt, the penalty expired harmlessly early second period.
Minnesota’s net was knocked off its moorings. Soon after Schammel fired a tight shot that Bench denied. Gulstene blocked a stellar Lydia Passolt shot that DeGeorge set up. Then DeGeorge caused a scramble at the Minnesota crease where the Beavers got pretty physical, including hitting Gulstene after a whistle. Abby Halluska went to the box for tripping Taylor Heise at 6:42. On the power play the Gophers created a lot of chances before Pannek, assisted by Heise, scored her second goal of the game at 8:37. Emily Brown also assisted.
Bemidji went back on the PK when Radke hooked Catie Skaja at 10:06 and successfully suppressed it. A couple minutes later at 14:42 Pannek redirected Sarah Potomak’s shot through Bench’s 5-hole finishing her hat trick. Amy Potomak had the second assist. Minnesota maintained offensive pressure for the rest of the period—including Wente firing into Bench’s pads and a little later Skaja flew down the side and fired on goal with equal results—though DeGeorge was doing her best to be a game changer.
Halluska scored off Emily Bergland’s rebound 28 seconds into third period. Bemidji remained solidly on the attack for the next five minutes, though that didn’t translate into many shots, as they tried to close the gap. Heise got hooked without a call before going on to make a wonderful play with Taylor Williamson that had Bench working in her crease to keep the puck out. Minnesota then had a nice flurry and started piling up shots as they controlled the puck for much of the rest of the period. This included Amy Potomak having a great chance, but hit the post instead.
It was probably due to frustration that Halluska earned a roughing penalty at 17:13. Halfway through the resulting power play Bemidji pulled Bench at 18:20. This allowed the Beavers to kill the penalty, but Heise made an empty netter at 19:42. Alex Woken had the lone assist. Eighteen seconds later Minnesota had beaten Bemidji State 6-3 after being outshot 31-32. The Gophers play their final game of the regular season tomorrow afternoon.