#1 Minnesota (31-2-4) vs. #5 Bemidji State (20-16-1), 2 p.m. CST
The Gophers skated to two big wins over Minnesota State last weekend to take the series. They beat the Mavericks 10-0 on Friday and then closed out the sweep with a 5-1 win. Dani Cameranesi led Minnesota with two goals and six points in the first victory. In game two, Maryanne Menefee scored twice to get the scoring started after a first period that saw Minnesota State hold a 15-3 edge in shots.
Bemidji State went on the road to Minnesota Duluth and won the first game of a best-of-three quarterfinal series for the first time. The Beavers defeated the Bulldogs 3-2 to win, but UMD came back on Saturday to tie the series with a 2-0 victory. In the deciding game, the Bulldogs finally broke a 0-0 tie midway through the third, but Hanna Moher tied it for the Beavers with 34 seconds left. Kaitlyn Tougas scored the overtime winner to push BSU into the semifinals.
The key to Bemidji State’s success this season has been total commitment in the defensive end. The Beavers are content to pack it in, as long as they can break up any attempts to get to the middle of the ice and to get shots through to the net. The Gophers have the talent up front to create chances anyways, but they also need to be willing to make the grittier, not-so-pretty plays if they want to get past Bemidji State’s defense and Brittni Mowat in net.
Key Players for Minnesota: F Hannah Brandt, D Lee Stecklein, F Kelly Pannek
Key Players for Bemidji State: G Brittni Mowat, F Kaitlyn Tougas, D Ivana Bilic
#2 Wisconsin (26-6-4) vs. #3 North Dakota (22-11-3), 5 p.m. CST
Wisconsin moved on the WCHA Final Face-Off with a sweep over St. Cloud State last week. The Badgers got off to a fast start on Friday and defeated the Huskies 5-1, and then capped off the series win with a 4-1 victory on Saturday. Brittany Ammerman was the only Badger to score twice over the weekend, and Kim Drake was the only one to post a multi-point effort, with three assists in the first win.
UND advanced in dramatic fashion with a big triple overtime win against Ohio State. North Dakota beat the Buckeyes 5-2 in game one behind captain Andrea Dalen’s hat trick. On Saturday, the two teams remained tied at 1-1 after five periods of play. Amy Menke finally scored to give UND the win just a few minutes into the sixth frame.
As we saw last weekend and for much of the season, Wisconsin has a very balanced attack. The balance throughout their line-up has helped in their possession game, which is the best in the conference. The Badgers don’t play at a particularly high pace but they have little issue driving play, and North Dakota will look to break up that control. Neutral-zone play will be key to that. Goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie has been lights out all year, and another performance at that level will also be a big help for UND.
Key Players for Wisconsin: F Blayre Turnbull, F Sarah Nurse, D Courtney Burke
Key Players for North Dakota: G Shelby Amsley-Benzie, F Meghan Dufault, D Halli Krzyzaniak