WCHA Week In Review: Wisconsin and Bemidji Split; Gophers, Bulldogs, UND Sweep

Beavers upset Badgers on the road

Bemidji State split with Minnesota Duluth last weekend as well, and it was in need of another strong weekend after entering the winter break spiraling pretty quickly. The Beavers pulled off the upset on Friday thanks to a 40-save performance from Brittni Mowat in net. The Badgers got off to a fast start, outshooting Bemidji 13-5 in the first period, but it was the Beavers who scored first. Hanna Moher gave her team the lead just seven minutes into the game. Sarah Nurse would answer before the end of the period for Wisconsin.

After a scoreless second period, Emma Terres scored her first goal of the season to put Bemidji State ahead again, 2-1. The Beavers held on in the final 10:37 of regulation to claim the victory. It was, overall, a solid performance for them, as they managed to put up 30 shots on goal against the Badgers’ tough defense.

Saturday afternoon’s game featured another strong goaltending performance for Bemidji, but this time the Badgers broke through for the win. The Beavers again scored first, as Stephanie Anderson tallied just over six minutes into the second period. Katy Josephs tied things up at 1-1, and Bemidji State just did not have enough left in the tank to push ahead again.

Freshman Erin Deters’ effort in net made the game much more interesting than it otherwise would have been, however. She made 60 saves in regulation to force overtime, and stopped the first shot she faced before Brittany Ammerman won it for Wisconsin just 46 seconds into the extra frame.

The second game was much more along the lines of what we’ve been expecting from each team all season: excellent goaltending from Bemidji and a committed defensive effort (the Beavers blocked 31 shots) kept the team in it, while the Badgers smothered their opponents in their own end and dominated possession.

North Dakota sweeps ranked Ohio State

The Buckeyes entered the weekend sitting in third place in the ever-challenging WCHA and ranked No. 9/10 in the polls. They welcomed a North Dakota squad that has struggled to find offensive consistency to Columbus for the last series of the season between the two teams. In need of a big weekend, it was UND who came away with six points thanks to some good goaltending of its own.

Junior netminder Shelby Amsley-Benzie stopped all 57 shots she faced in the series to lead North Dakota to a pair of 1-0 wins. In both games, UND scored early on in the game, and Amsley-Benzie was tasked with protecting that lead for the rest of the contest.

On Friday night, defenseman Tanja Eisenschmid got UND on the board halfway through the first with a shot through traffic that beat Buckeyes goaltender Stacy Danczak. Holding a 1-0 lead, Amsley-Benzie stopped all 19 shots she faced throughout the final 40 minutes of regulation to help seal the win.

In the second game, it was Gracen Hirschy’s first-period tally that would go on to stand as the game-winner. Hirschy, who is now tied for the team lead in goals with eight, pulled off a couple of nice moves to beat two OSU defenders and then slipped it five-hole on Danczak. After an even first two periods of play, the Buckeyes again pressed late, and had a 6-on-4 advantage in the final minute of regulation. Amsley-Benzie stood tall, however, and posted her second-shutout in as many nights.

Minnesota scores 14 in sweep of Mavericks

The Gophers’ high-powered offense was again on display in this weekend’s series against eighth-place Minnesota State, who is still looking for its first conference win of the year.

Minnesota took the first game, 7-3, on Friday night. Maryanne Menefee led the team with a hat trick and four points, while Dani Cameranesi and Hannah Brandt each posted three assists. Meghan Lorence, Cara Piazza, Sydney Baldwin, and Rachel Ramsey also scored for the Gophers, while Milica McMillen notched a multi-point game from the blue line with two assists.

Perhaps a little surprisingly, the Mavericks scored three goals of their own on 19 total shots. Kathleen Rogan, Sara Bustad, and Casey Hirsch were the goal-scorers, and in net, Erin Krichiver came up with 54 saves despite the seven goals against.

The Gophers completed the sweep in the home-and-home series on Saturday afternoon, capturing the win, 7-1. Seven different Gophers scored in the victory. Menefee, Cameranesi, Brandt, and Kelly Pannek each posted a goal and two assists, while Minnesota outshot the Mavericks 48-12. One thing worth noting here: Pannek is now leading the country in rookie scoring with 30 points in 25 games, five points ahead of Boston College’s Kenzie Kent, who has 25 in 22 games.

The sweep of Minnesota State paired with Wisconsin’s loss to Bemidji State helped the Gophers regain first place in the WCHA standings; they now sit on top with 46 points, while the Badgers are in second with 44.

Minnesota Duluth completes season sweep of Huskies

The Bulldogs picked up another six points this weekend against St. Cloud State, moving into third place in the conference standings. The games were a little closer than one may have anticipated, though Minnesota Duluth fended off any upset bids from the Huskies.

On Saturday afternoon, UMD got off to a quick start, with Katherine McGovern giving her team the lead less than two minutes into the contest. Shots in the period were even, however, and St. Cloud goaltender Julie Friend turned aside all 13 she faced in the second to keep the Bulldogs from scoring again. The Huskies couldn’t mount much of an offensive effort of their own, however, and Lara Stalder eventually netted one midway through the third to seal the 2-0 win for Minnesota Duluth.

The following day, it was St. Cloud State who scored first, with Molly Illikainen tallying on the power play to put her team ahead about halfway through the opening period. Meghan Huertas soon tied it for the Bulldogs, and Stalder scored again to put them ahead in the second. Ashleigh Brykaliuk added one of her own on the power play in the third to extend the lead to 3-1. The Huskies came up short in a last-ditch effort to tie, with Abby Ness scoring in the final 27 seconds to bring them within one, but they couldn’t cash in again to avoid the sweep.

It was a bit of a lackluster showing for Minnesota Duluth against a team with a .194 winning percentage. St. Cloud State’s players have done everything they can to remain competitive this season, and they certainly deserve credit for keeping this series as close as it was. The Bulldogs haven’t had the most explosive offense this year, but I think a little more was expected out of a team with several reliable scorers.

CHA Week in Review: Penn State Sweeps, Syracuse Ties Mercyhurst

Penn State Earns Second CHA Sweep

In just their third season as a Division I program, the Nittany Lions are currently sitting in second place in their conference. And just six series after completing their first sweep, against Colgate back on Nov. 7-8, they swept a series for the third time, knocking off RIT in both contests this weekend.

Penn State skated to the 2-1 win on Saturday afternoon at Pegula Ice Arena, scoring twice in the second period to erase a one-goal deficit. Celeste Brown scored to put the Tigers ahead just a couple of minutes into the middle frame, but Shannon Yoxheimer knotted things up on the power play less than six minutes later. Bella Sutton then scored unassisted to give the Nittany Lions the lead, and goaltender Celine Whitlinger made 14 third-period saves to preserve it and seal the win.

They then completed the sweep on Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 victory. Penn State used two special-teams goals to take a 2-0 lead, with Laura Bowman scoring shorthanded in the second and Sutton tallying on the power play halfway through the third. Cassie Clayton got one back for RIT about three minutes later, but Hannah Hoenshell added another for the Nittany Lions with under seven minutes to go in regulation. Whitlinger made another 27 saves in net in the win.

Penn State now stands at 12-9-3 overall (7-4-1 CHA) and is just two points behind Mercyhurst for first place in the CHA. The Tigers, meanwhile, have just five points and are in last place in the conference, and they’ve won just one of their last seven games.

Mercyhurst ties, beats Syracuse

A week after knocking off North Dakota on the road behind Jenn Gilligan’s career-high 44 saves, the Orange earned another notable result, this time against conference foe Mercyhurst.

The Lakers, who have long been the team to beat in the CHA, were outshot by Syracuse in a 1-1 tie on Friday. Lauren Kilroy scored first for Mercyhurst in the second period, but the Orange outshot the Lakers by more than twice as much in the third period. Freshman Alysha Burriss broke through for Syracuse midway through the final frame to tie it.

On Saturday afternoon, the Orange jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind goals from Stephanie Grossi and Melissa Piacentini and carried that into the third period. Mercyhurst would launch a comeback in the final 20 minutes, however. Emily Janiga got the scoring started 14 seconds into the period, and then scored again before the seven-minute mark. Jenna Dingeldein gave the Lakers the lead with 7:19 remaining, and 30 saves from Amanda Makela sealed the win for them. Shelby Bram, Molly Byrne, and J’nai Mahadeo all finished the afternoon with two assists each.

It was the second-straight questionable performance for Mercyhurst in a College Hockey America series. In their last action before this weekend, they were swept on the road by Penn State, and were outshot by the Orange in both games this weekend. The Lakers’ defense has been solid, giving up the fourth-fewest amount of shots per game in the nation, but their offense has left a little to be desired. One offensive bright spot: junior forward Emily Janiga has taken off this year, and now sits fifth in the nation in scoring with 32 points in 19 games.