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WOMEN’S HOCKEY: UND powers past Bemidji

BEMIDJI -- Bemidji State and North Dakota skated to a 0-0 tie and a 2-1 BSU overtime win in a home-and-home series in mid-October. So it wasn't a surprise when Friday night's game was decided by just a goal. Only this time it was the No. 9 Fighti...

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University of North Dakota senior Tanja Eisenschmid (22) escapes Bemidji State University's Summer Thibodeau behind the UND net during the first period against the Beavers at the Sanford Center in Bemidji. (Jack Hittinger/Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Bemidji State and North Dakota skated to a 0-0 tie and a 2-1 BSU overtime win in a home-and-home series in mid-October.

So it wasn’t a surprise when Friday night’s game was decided by just a goal. Only this time it was the No. 9 Fighting Hawks over the No. 5/6 Beavers 1-0, thanks to a power play goal from senior forward Becca Kohler.

“Whether it was not having our game legs initially, I don’t know,” BSU coach Jim Scanlan said. “But I thought it was a real good pace, and a very typical game when you play North Dakota.”

The Fighting Hawks (10-5-2, 7-4-2 WCHA) outplayed the Beavers (12-5-2, 9-5-1 WCHA) in the first period, outshooting the them 14-4. But with seven blocked shots in the first stanza, all of Bemidji State’s players contributed to keeping UND off the scoreboard.

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That changed, though, when Ivana Bilic was whistled for a hooking penalty at the 5 minute, 57 second mark of the second.

Just under a minute later, Kohler took a pass from Halli Krzyzaniak on the wall, walked it toward the slot and picked out the top right corner of the net behind Bemidji State goalie Brittni Mowat to make it 1-0.

“I thought we played well; we competed well,” UND coach Brian Idalski said. “The first was good, and then after scoring I thought we did a decent job of defending our own end. So overall it was a tough road win for us.”

Bilic took another penalty halfway through the second period, but the Beavers were able to kill it, marking a turning point in the game, according to Scanlan.

“I thought our team really responded, particularly from the point of the second penalty,” he said. “After that kill, I thought we definitely stepped our game up.”

With 1:30 left in the middle period, Kaitlyn Tougas hit Stephanie Anderson with a rink-wide pass. Anderson went in for a shot, but a UND defender got a stick on it and deflected it wide.

The Beavers outshot the UND 7-5 in the second period and 10-3 in the third, but the Hawks senior goalie Shelby Amsley-Benzie stopped all of them and earned a 21 save shutout.

“Sheby’s good, she’s an All-American for a reason,” Idalski noted. “I think she’s now getting close to being 100 percent and healthy. She’s been playing well for us. It’s not been her fault that we’ve been a little up-and-down and inconsistent. I was happy for her, she’s played well.”

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The Beavers took complete control in the second half of the third period, keeping pressure in the offensive zone for minutes at a time.

“We knew we had to get it done, and we knew how we had to play,” Anderson said. “So we took it to them, and we started getting the puck deep, forechecking hard. We should’ve done that all game, but we just waited until the third to do it.”

With 1:20 left in the third, Hanna Moher and Kristin Huber both had scoring chances, trying to corral a rebound from a Madison Hutchinson shot from the point. Amsley-Benzie stayed composed and was able to steer the puck to the corner.

Bemidji State pulled its goalie with 1:05 left and managed a few more shots on goal but ultimately, the Hawks survived the third and finished on top, 1-0.

The teams rematch at 2:07 p.m. Sunday at the Ralph Englestad Arena.

“The Ralph’s always fun to play in,” Anderson said. “The atmosphere is great. I think last time we went down there we just never gave up, and we played a very complete game. So that’s definitely one thing we need to do.”

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