The Beaver Radio Network

Former BSU Women’s Hockey Players “Play On” at the Next Level

There is a saying within Bemidji State University hockey that states “tradition never graduates.” For the BSU women’s hockey “Class of 2016,” that has certainly rung very true this off-season. Four of the eight recent graduates have already committed to continuing their hockey careers at the next level this upcoming season. This summer has proven to be by far the most fruitful off-season for any BSU women’s hockey graduating class in the history of the program.

Stephanie Anderson is playing with the Minnesota Whitecaps, training with the US Women’s National Team and also coaching the MN Revolution. Ivana Bilic signed to play with the NWHL’s Connecticut Whale. Kaitlyn Tougas was drafted by the Brampton Thunder of the CWHL in the 4th Round and Hanna Moher signed with HV71, a pro team in Sweden.

STEPHANIE ANDERSON:
Stephanie Anderson has literally been “as busy as a Beaver” this off-season. She signed with the Minnesota Whitecaps right after her final game at BSU and joins her new team for the 2016-17 season which features an exhibition series against her former team at the Sanford Center in Bemidji on Nov. 11-12, 2016. Anderson also spent the first part of August working out with Team USA at the 2016 USA Hockey Women’s National Festival at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, New York, and if that wasn’t enough, she added the title of head coach for MN Revolution Academy in North St. Paul, Minnesota to her full plate.

As for playing for the Whitecaps, this is what Anderson had to say, “”I knew right away I wanted to play for the Whitecaps! Because it provides the opportunity to continue playing hockey after college and working towards my goal of the Olympics, the Whitecaps is the perfect place for me. It’s close to family, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to be a part of this program. I am very excited to start playing this season!”

Interview with Stephanie Anderson: HERE

Anderson, who served an assistant captain for the Beavers in 2015-16, played in 31 games as a senior. She led BSU with 11 goals and added eight assists for 19 points to rank fifth on the team. She recorded five game-winning goals, which paced the Beavers and ranked third in the WCHA, while she was second on the team with 102 shots on goal.

The native of North St. Paul, Minn., also played for Team USA in the 2014 Four Nations Cup and helped bring home the gold medal. Anderson was also invited to the 2015 USA Women’s Winter Camp Dec. 27-Jan. 1. Following the 2015-16 season, she was named to the U.S. National Team roster for the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Championship but was unable to participate due to injury.

Follow Stephanie Anderson and the Minnesota Whitecaps HERE.

IVANA BILIC:
On July 31, 2016, the Connecticut Whale of the National Women’s Hockey League, announced the signing of former Bemidji State University defender Ivana Bilic to a contract for the 2016-17 season. Bilic became the first BSU graduated to earn a professional contract in the NWHL.
According to the Connecticut Whale website, General Manager Lisa Giovanelli said BIlic is “a solid defenseman who can block a lot of shots. She’s a great addition to our defensive core and will make our blue line even stronger.”

The Coquitlam, British Columbia native finished up the 2015-16 season being named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s 2016 Defensive Player of the Year. She finished her senior year tied for sixth among WCHA defensemen with 22 points (3g-19s) and was second in the nation in blocked shots (98). During her four-year career at BSU, Bilic scored 61 points (13g, 48a) in 128 games. She left BSU ranked third all-time among BSU defenders in scoring and third on BSU’s assists by defenseman list.
I had the chance to catch up with Ivana during her visit to Bemidji on August 26th.

Interview with Ivana Bilic: HERE

Follow Ivana Bilic and the Connecticut Whale HERE.

HANNA MOHER:
In April of this year, Hanna Moher signed with a pro team in Sweden. Moher became the first former Beaver player from the Class of 2016 to sign a pro contract. Moher, who has family in Canada and Sweden, became a dual citizen of those two countries the summer between her junior and senior year. Fittingly, that made the decision to sign a pro contract in Sweden that much easier for her. She will be playing for HV71 under a 2-year contract that can be broken at any time. Her team will play around 35 games plus playoffs in the top women’s pro hockey league in Sweden called SDHL (formerly Riksserien). While in Sweden, Moher will also be working on her MBA at the University of Jonkoping.

Follow Hanna Moher and HV71 HERE

The 2015-16 Captain of the Lady Beavers finished her four-year career with a total of 45 points (23g-22a) in 138 games. During her four-year career at BSU, Moher proved herself as a leader both on and off the ice through her work ethic and positive attitude.

When asked about the opportunity to play for HV71, Moher said “To be able to continue my hockey career is something I could have only dreamed of doing while continuing studies after BSU. Not only am I fortunate enough to be close to family in Sweden, I also see it as an opportunity to get to experience a new country and culture. I can confidently say that I am ready for my journey thanks BSU as a whole, and more specifically the women’s hockey program, as they set a standard for their student athletes to strive to be the best version of themselves in the class room, on the ice, and in the community. There’s always going to be a part of my left at BSU no matter where I go”

Moher also added that she is exciting to watch her BSU teammates excel after college. “To see that two of my best friends Ivana (Bilic) and Tougy (Kaitlyn Tougas) continue their careers into pro hockey makes me so excited and proud of them. Though we all will be in different countries, we can go through the journey together and share our struggles, successes, laughs and stories together.”

KAITLYN TOUGAS:
On August 21, 2016, forward Kaitlyn Tougas became the first Lady Beaver to be drafted in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. She was taken by the Brampton Thunder in the fourth round. Tougas said, “It’s definitely exciting to be a part of a draft. That being said I do still have to make the team! I have no doubt that what I learned and how I grew as a person and player at Bemidji is going to I influence the outcome of my year in the CWHL ahead of me.” The Thunder will look to Tougas and three other players they drafted for more scoring. Tryouts take place at the end of September.

The Thunder Bay, Ontario native wrapped up her four-year career at Bemidji State with a total of 92 points, ranking her seventh in the program record books. She also led the Beavers in points for three-straight seasons and set a career-high with 29 points (8g-21a) in 2015-16. The 2015-16 alternate captain finished in the top 20 in the WCHA in points, assists and assists per game (0.58) while also leading the team in plus/minus (+10). Her 21 assists her senior season are the seventh most in single season at BSU.

The CWHL is a five-team professional women’s hockey league founded in 2007. The Brampton Thunder finished the 2015-16 season third in the CWHL standings with a 13-7-1 record.

Follow Kaitlyn Tougas and the Brampton Thunder HERE

Tougas credits the diversity of coaches she had during time at Bemidji State. “Coach Sertich taught me to find the will to succeed from within- it cannot be given, you have to want it. Coach (Amber) Fryklund inspired me to love the game because the game in return will love you back- hockey has always been a part of my life and having the opportunity to continue playing and not hang up the skates just yet isn’t going to come around again. Coach Shane (Veenker) was my biggest fan; he challenged me to a higher standard than anyone else- and I will always remember that you need to believe in yourself if you want to be successful; it starts with you. And lastly coach (Jim) Scanlan, I can’t thank him enough for taking our team to a whole other level of compete, to play like champions. That will carry on with me wherever I go next with the game.”

Not surprisingly, Tougas is also proud of her former Beaver teammates. She had this to say about Moher, “I can’t express how proud I am of her; she has dreams and she is chasing them. I have no doubt that she will be playing in the Olympics for Team Sweden. It’s the little things in life that go unnoticed but will make a huge difference- this stands true for Hanna, who always always shows up. She was a great leader for our team our senior year and has definitely left her mark on the wall at Bemidji.”

Tougas refers to Ivana Bilic, the 2016 WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, as the “Drew Doughty of women’s hockey.* I’ve never stepped on the ice with anyone as talented as Ivana and I hold true to that statement still. I’m so happy for her to have signed and continue a new journey in Connecticut. She’s the kind of person that doesn’t need to say many words but leads by example on the ice, holding her team accountable.”

For those who aren’t familiar with who Drew Doughty is, he’s a defenseman who plays for the LA Kings, and a two-time Stanley Cup winner. I’d say that’s a pretty high compliment.

Written by Kelly Schultz, Play-by-play Announcer for Bemidji State Women’s Hockey since 2007

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