The afternoon clash between Minnesota Duluth and Bemidji State got off to a flying start with three goals in the first 3:29 of the game, but a late-third period surge allowed Minnesota Duluth to pull away for a comfortable 6-1 win over the Beavers.
Five different Bulldogs scored, including the first career goal for freshman Anneke Linser, to even fifth-ranked UMD’s record on the season at 3-3-1 after a brutal stretch of six games against teams ranked in the top six nationally. Bemidji State remains winless on the season with a 0-5-0 record.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday afternoon.
Notes and Thoughts:
-If you just check the final 6-1 score, I’m not sure you’d end up with an accurate impression of how close this game actually was. Minnesota Duluth came out of a wild first eight minutes of the game with a 2-1 lead, getting both goals on shots from the point that found their way through traffic. But Bemidji State had a goal disallowed in that stretch, and hit a pair of pipes on the power play that would have tied the game.
Once the game settled down, it was still a 3-1 game into the third period when Maddie Rooney was forced to come up with a huge save on a Bemidji State 2-on-0. Shortly after, UMD got a puck to bounce in off a scrum in front that effectively ended the game, and the Bulldogs tacked on two more in garbage time. Shots for the game finished 28-28, and it was UMD that played catch-up in the shots department in the final 10 minutes of the game. It’s pretty rare to see such a lop-sided final score in a game like that.
-Which brings us to Bemidji State. Bemidji State hasn’t won a game yet against a very tough schedule, but they’ve proven that they can skate with anyone. They’ve outshot opponents 137-113 on the season, but have only scored nine goals(6.6% shooting percentage) compared to 24 goals against(21.2%). Some of it is goaltending, but not all of it. They had some bad luck on the first two goals plinkoing through traffic. The other issue is that the Beavers have some smaller defensemen, which is great when they have the puck because they’re really good playmakers(I was really, really impressed with BSU’s PP), but their net-front defense is really lacking, which cost them on scrambles in front of their net on the third and fourth goals.
-If there was one area that I thought UMD controlled the game, it was the third line with Brooklyn Schugel-Anneke Linser-Taylor Anderson. UMD’s first line finally started scoring late in the game, but early on, their best shifts were coming from that third line. I think that’s really the difference between a team like UMD in the upper half of the league, and the rest of the pack in the WCHA. Bemidji State has some really good players, but not enough to roll three lines like UMD could.
-The other disappointment for Bemidji State has to be that Clair DeGeorge has just a single goal through five games. DeGeorge, who has skated with the US Olympic team, is one of the most talented players in college hockey this year. She had a solid game on Friday, but wasn’t able to turn it into anything tangible. As mentioned above, probably the biggest play of the game was the 2-on-0 that DeGeorge created with her speed in the neutral zone. But rather than take the shot, she gave it up to a teammate and Rooney read the pass all the way to turn it into an easy save. It was the unselfish, possibly correct play, but if Bemidji State is going to be better, they’ll need their best players to be their best players.