BEMIDJI -- The clock is ticking down on the regular season as the Bemidji State women’s hockey team closes out the schedule this weekend with a road series at St. Cloud State.
The Huskies (5-20-4, 1-18-1-0 WCHA) may not elicit a lot of fear with their record, but the Beavers (14-15-3, 8-12-2-0 WCHA) aren’t going to take them for granted.
“They’ve struggled a little bit this year, but like every other team in this league, when they play well they’re a good team and we can’t take them lightly,” redshirt junior goalie Lauren Bench said. “We can’t just expect to go into this weekend and win. I think especially with having an off weekend next weekend, it makes this weekend even more important to get ready for playoffs.”
While BSU may be out of the running for a home-ice playoff spot following last weekend’s sweep to Minnesota, the series still has playoff implications.
Bemidji State is eight points ahead of Minnesota State for fifth place, though the Mavericks will be in action next weekend, whereas the Beavers will be idle. A four-point weekend would be enough for BSU to clinch the No. 5 seed. MSU also faces the challenge of going up against ranked teams over its final two series: No. 8 Minnesota Duluth and No. 4 Minnesota.
Exactly where the Beavers will open the WCHA playoffs in two weeks remains undecided, although there are two possible destinations: Columbus, Ohio, or Duluth. Ohio State enters this weekend one point ahead of UMD for third place with four games to play for each squad.
This season, Bemidji State has gone 3-0 in its three previous meetings against SCSU, including a December home sweep and a 1-0 overtime win in Duluth as part of the Minnesota Cup last month.
“We have the last weekend off, so it’s going to be really important for us to go into the weekend playing our best hockey and preparing ourselves for the postseason,” associate head coach Amber Fryklund said. “St. Cloud is a good team. They have skilled players, good goaltending. And so for us it’s about focusing on our play and what can do to gain momentum as we go into playoffs.”
This weekend’s matchup will present BSU with the opportunity to compete on an Olympic-sized ice sheet.
“There’s a lot more time and space out there,” Bench said. “Usually there’s a bit more plays happening, more odd-man rushes. There’s a lot more opportunity to get pucks out to players. So from that standpoint, I’m kind of expecting a little bit more of that.”
Puck drop is set for 6:07 p.m. for Friday’s game and 3:07 p.m. for Saturday’s tilt.
At a glance
Who: BSU at St. Cloud State
Where: St. Cloud
When: 6:07 p.m. Friday; 3:07 p.m. Saturday
Radio: Beaver Radio Network/1300 AM & 94.3 FM