Beavers begin WCHA Playoffs at No. 9 Minnesota Duluth
With the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Playoffs scheduled to begin this weekend, the Bemidji State University women’s hockey team will see a familiar opponent in its WCHA Quarterfinals matchup. For the fifth time in the past six seasons, the Beavers (15-16-3, 9-13-2-0 WCHA) will face University of Minnesota Duluth for a trip to the WCHA Final Faceoff. Bemidji State earned the fifth seed in the WCHA Playoffs and will travel to the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (16-10-6, 11-8-5-3 WCHA) for the best of three series. Game one is slated for Friday, Feb. 28 at AMSOIL Arena with puck drop at 7:07 p.m., followed by game two Saturday at 4:07 p.m. If needed, both teams will play game three Sunday at 4:07 p.m.
The Beavers and Bulldogs clash for the 102nd and 103rd meetings in the all-time series and their eighth meeting in the WCHA Playoffs, seven of which have been in the WCHA Quarterfinals and once in the WCHA Final Face-Off. In the past five seasons, Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth have met in the first round of the WCHA Playoffs four times and each team has earned a trip to the WCHA Final Faceoff in two of those series. Last season, UMD advanced to the WCHA Final Faceoff after earning a two-game sweep of BSU at AMSOIL Arena.
In the all-time series, Minnesota Duluth dominates the all-time series record at 77-20-4 including a 41-10-3 record in Duluth. The Beavers and Bulldogs met five times during the 2019-20 regular season with BSU earning two wins at home but fell three times at AMSOIL Arena.
Senior Haley Mack and junior Paige Beebe have paced the team with four points against the Bulldogs this season while Mack has posted four goals and Beebe has two goals and two assists. Juniors Clair DeGeorge (0g-3a) and Tina Kampa (0g-3a) have also each posted three points against the Bulldogs this season. In their careers, Mack leads the Beavers with 13 points (9g-4a) in 19 games against UMD while DeGeorge follows with 12 points (3g-9a) in 19 games and Beebe has totaled 11 points (5g-6a) in 19 games. Redshirt junior Lauren Bench started all five games against the Bulldogs this season and posted a 2-3-0 record with a 2.44 goals against average and .909 save percentage. In her career, she has appeared in 13 games against Minnesota Duluth and has posted a 4-8-0 record with a 2.88 goals against average and .905 save percentage.
Minnesota Duluth enters the weekend’s action ranked No. 9 in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USAHockey Magazine national polls. The Bulldogs finished the 2019-20 regular season with a 16-10-6 overall record and finished fourth in the WCHA standings with 41 points (11-8-5-3). Minnesota Duluth hosted No. 1 University of Wisconsin for its season finale last weekend and earned one point against the Badgers. The Bulldogs were led by sophomore Gabbie Hughes who posted three assists in the series while seniors Sydney Brodt and Ryleigh Houston each scored two goals.
Minnesota Duluth ranks fourth in the WCHA by averaging 2.84 goals per game and also ranks fourth on defense by holding opponents to 2.28 goals per game. On special teams, the Bulldogs rank fourth in the league with a .167 percentage (15-of-90) on the power play and are third on the penalty kill by killing at a .837 percentage (82-of-98).
Hughes paces the team on offense and is fifth in the league with 48 points off of 18 goals and 30 assists. Her 18 goals this season is tied for the sixth most in the WCHA. She is followed by Brodt who has recorded 37 points off of 17 goals and 20 assists while junior Ashton Bell has added 31 points off of 11 goals and 20 assists. Bell is the league’s highest scoring defenseman with 31 points and her 11 goals this season leads WCHA blueliners. In net, the Bulldogs are led by senior Maddie Rooney who has posted a 15-10-6 record and is fourth in the WCHA with a 2.19 goals against average and second with a .926 save percentage.
Bemidji State begins its postseason campaign after having a bye week to end the regular season and finished fifth in the WCHA standings with 29 points. The Beavers finished the 2019-20 regular season with a 15-16-3 record and were 9-13-2-0 in league play.
The Beavers are sixth in the WCHA in scoring by averaging 1.97 goals per game and fifth on defense by holding opponents to 2.47 goals per game. Bemidji State’s power play is seventh in the league by converting at .120 percent (9-of-75) while its penalty kill ranks sixth at .776 percent (66-of-85).
Bemidji State is paced on offense by senior Haley Mack who is tied for 17th in the league and has tied a career-high with 25 points off of 14 goals and 11 assists. Mack has scored 37 goals in her career to tie for fifth-most in program history and owns the career short-handed goal record with five. She is followed by junior Clair DeGeorge who has posted 21 points off of seven goals and 14 assists for her third consecutive 20-point season. Senior Kiki Radke has also posted a career-high 19 points off of six goals and 13 assists while senior Abby Halluska (7g-9a) has tied her career best with 16 points. Freshman Reece Hunt has posted 15 points off of four goals and 11 assists and is third in the WCHA among freshman scoring. Bemidji State’s blueline is led by junior Mak Langei who has recorded 15 points off of two goals and 13 assists while junior Tina Kampa follows with 11 points off of 11 assists. Redshirt junior Lauren Bench leads the Beavers’ netminders and has posted an 12-14-2 record with a 2.31 goals against average and .951 save percentage which stand fifth and fourth in the WCHA, respectively.