By Austin Monteith
BEMIDJI, Minn. — Another top-10 opponent awaits the Bemidji State women’s hockey team.
On the heels of a 2-1 upset win over then-No. 1 Wisconsin last Friday, the Beavers will now face Ohio State, ranked No. 9 in the USCHO.com poll, this weekend in Columbus, Ohio.
The program’s third all-time win against a top-ranked opponent could lend the team a boost heading into another crucial weekend.
“For our team, and at this point in the season, I think it’s really beneficial for us,” said junior forward Jacqueline Kaasa. “It gives us a lot of energy going to Ohio in this next week.”
“To win Friday night was a big win for a lot of reasons,” said head coach Jim Scanlan. “Most important, it was three points for us. But also just to give the group the belief and the knowledge that they can compete with anybody.”
The Beavers (10-16-2, 7-9-2-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) split last weekend’s series after a 4-0 win for the Badgers on Saturday. Still, the loss was enough to drop Wisconsin to No. 2 in this week’s USCHO.com poll behind Minnesota, marking the first time since Oct. 15 the Badgers aren’t No. 1.
The Beavers won’t dwell on the series for long.
“I always say we don’t throw parades, we don’t throw funerals,” Scanlan said. “You just have to take the next-game approach of being as ready as possible.”
BSU’s first meeting against the Buckeyes in November resulted in the Beavers’ first wins of the season. The Beavers swept then-No. 4 Ohio State by scores of 2-1 and 4-2 at the Sanford Center.
“We did a really great job keeping girls to the outside and not giving them those Grade-A pretty chances that they like to get,” said sophomore goalie Lauren Bench. “(We were) just really great defensively. Kerigan (Dowhy) played really great that weekend too, which always helps when you have a hot goalie.”
The Buckeyes (17-11-0, 11-9-0-0 WCHA) recently recovered from a five-game losing streak to sweep St. Cloud State last weekend.
Sophomore forward Emma Maltais leads OSU and is third in the league in scoring with 35 points (12g-23a).
“They just have a really solid D-corps that adds adds to a very, very good forward group,” Scanlan said. “They present a lot of challenges as far as defending them.”
The Buckeyes will want to stay ahead of Minnesota Duluth for third place in the WCHA standings. OSU has a five-point gap on UMD but the Buckeyes have two fewer league games remaining.
With only three series left, the fifth-place Beavers also need to keep pace with UMD. Duluth has a five-point lead on BSU for the final home playoff spot.
“Every point for everybody is big,” said Scanlan, who is one win away from becoming the program’s all-time winningest coach. He tied the record with his 81st win last Friday. “We know we’re going to get Ohio State’s best effort. But we want points as well.
“This time of the year, these games are always intense. I know Bemidji and Ohio have always had an extra intense rivalry. I’m sure this weekend it will be no different.”
At a glance
Who: BSU at Ohio State
Where: Columbus, Ohio
When: 5:07 p.m. Friday; 2:07 p.m. Saturday
Radio: Beaver Radio Network/1300 AM