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  • Beavers Bite Back


    The Beavers were on the hunt from the start badgering the Gophers in their own zone. When Abby Halluska received the puck between the circles she shot on goal, which goaltender Sidney Peters blocked, but then she fell and had to block another one before it was cleared. Shortly thereafter Emily Bergland was denied on her shot from the right side, but then Jacqueline Kaasa came in and knocked it in from close on the right side, scoring at 3:15. Bailey Wright had the second assist. A few Bemidji fans threw their bears on the ice, even though they were supposed to wait for the first Gopher goal—as it was the annual Gopher Teddy Bear Toss—but the rest of the fans didn’t have to wait for long as Alex Woken scored on Lauren Bench at 3:38 with an assist by Sophie Skarzynski. Teddy Bears rained down onto the ice, but it took until the bears were cleaned up for the goal to make it onto the board, as the goal had to be reviewed before being declared good. Once that happened, another dozen or so bears hit the ice.

    Gophers were doing a better job controlling the flow of the game this first period, though both teams spent the rest of the time puck chasing. Not only did multiple skaters knock the puck off Bemidji sticks, they did a fantastic job creating chaos in the Beaver’s end and created some great chances, though the shot count remained low throughout the entire first period and ended 4-6 shots in Bemidji’s favor. During first intermission three national team members, Amanda Kessel and Megan Bozek for Team USA and Sarah Potomak for Canada, were honored as both teams had come to town for the game on Sunday at the Xcel Center.

    Sydney Baldwin’s left point shot, which Bench denied, was the first solid chance by either team second period. Grace Zumwinkle shot from the right circle, hit Bench’s mask and then the puck flew past into the back of the net at 2:17. Cara Piazza and Emily Brown assisted. Patti Marshall cleared her zone and a Beaver deflected the puck into Minnesota’s bench where it hit Skarzynski in the mask, but she was able to laugh it off. Minnesota had a short flurry then the puck was back in their own zone. A Beaver shot on goal from the left side and Peters lunged for the puck as Paige Beebe dived for it as well. The net flew off its moorings and Beebe went headfirst into the backboards. Beebe lay on the ice for a long while, but was eventually able to get skate back to her bench with significant help from her captain, Emma Terres.

    Bemidji didn’t let these setbacks faze them. Kaasa made a shot from the left circle straight into Peters’s glove whereupon the goaltender fell forward. There was a mess at the Minnesota crease and then another puck battle, which ended when Peters knocked the net away. The Gophers had a couple of chances from Olivia Knowles and Baldwin, then it was back to the Minnesota zone. Mak Langei made a shot from the right side after Peters was down and Wright tipped the puck into goal at 13:17, tying the game again. Bergland had the second assist. Nicole Schammel went to the box for tripping at 16:49 and Minnesota killed the penalty by keeping play almost entirely out of their zone.

    Third period began with more back and forth. Then a Minnesota turnover allowed Halluska to fly down the left side and while she was taken out before she could shoot, the loose puck became a drop pass as Kaasa picked it up and buried it high in the net from the left side at 5:14. Seconds later Bergland had a breakaway down the left side and fired from the circle onto goal, which created a loud ping and play continued, though it didn’t seem possible for Peters to have stopped the puck. 34 seconds later play was halted as Kippin Keller was awarded a tripping penalty and put in the box. However, after the whistle the referees reviewed Bergland’s shot and determined it was good after all, which set the clock back to 6:00—Keller’s penalty remained though the time had been called had been erased. Unsurprisingly, Minnesota fans had a problem with this and inquiring minds everywhere would like to know what exactly happened there.

    The Gophers killed the penalty, but the Beaver blitz continued in Minnesota’s zone. This continued until Melissa Hunt took Caitlin Reilly down along the penalty box boards, which landed her on the other side of them at 9:28 for interference. Minnesota had a few chances, but could convert. Terres nearly scored after a soft shot hit Peters’s pads and was loose in the crease. Then Peters was pulled at 17:20 in hopes that the extra skater would tie close the gap. The Beavers iced the puck shortly thereafter going for an empty netter and used their timeout with 1:49 left on the clock to recover, as Minnesota was puck cycling in their zone as much as possible looking for a goal. Then Minnesota used their timeout with 53.9 seconds left on the board.

    The game ended in 6-on-4 play, as Wright took an interference penalty at 19:20, and Bemidji won 4-2 after outshooting Minnesota 28-26. All in all the Beavers made a great showing and reset what sort of offensive expectations one ought to have when they come to town. Hopefully the Gophers will enter the mid season break next weekend on a high note, as they host the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.

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