Feb. 24, 2017
MINNEAPOLIS -- The No. 4 Golden Gopher women's hockey team earned a 3-1 win over Bemidji State in game one of this weekend's best-of-three WCHA First Round series at Ridder Arena. Three different defensemen scored goals for the Maroon & Gold in the win.
Minnesota (24-5-5, 19-4-5-3 WCHA) received goals from senior captain Lee Stecklein and rookies Patti Marshall and Katie Robinson in the win. Nine different players tallied one point for the Gophers, and Sidney Peters made seven saves as Minnesota outshot the visitors, 35-8.
"Well, we're happy with the win," head coach Brad Frost. "Bemidji State does such a good job of clogging things up in the middle, in particular in their zone. Anytime we can spread that thing out and get some traffic in front and get it to the net, it's to our advantage. Overall that was pretty big for our defensemen, for us to get three goals from them."
The Gophers scored one goal in each period on the way to a 3-0 lead before Bemidji State (11-19-3, 7-18-3-1 WCHA) spoiled the shutout with a goal by Haley Mack at the 7:29 mark of the third period. BSU netminder Brittni Mowat recorded 32 saves for the game.
"We had the puck a lot, they had a great chance toward the end of the first when they hit the crossbar," Frost said. "We took care of the puck for the most part through the first two periods. Unfortunately they got that last one there, but overall it was good."
Minnesota was one-for-three on the power play while holding BSU scoreless on its lone opportunity with the man advantage.
Stecklein's power-play goal at the 6:11 mark of the third period made it 3-0 after Marshall netted her second goal of the season, the eventual game-winner, at the 14:36 of the middle frame.
"Kelly set me up really nicely, I had the easy job, backdoor," Marshall said of her goal. "Bemidji is a tough team, especially when you let them hang around. The longer you let them stay in the game, the harder they push back so it's always important to get up early. Katie did a nice job."
Robinson put the Gophers on the board in the first period with her third tally of the season at the 13:48 mark. Cara Piazza and Lindsay Agnew picked up assists on the play.
Minnesota has now won three-straight games against Bemidji State, picking up a sweep at home in November after splitting a series on the road in October with a 3-1 win followed by a 2-0 loss.
"Thinking back to the first time we played them, we won the first game and ended up losing the second game," Marshall said. "I think we are going to come strong because we know they're going to come back stronger. I think it'll be a good game tomorrow."
"Against a team like Bemidji State who comes so aggressively, they've got good sticks and good speed, it was big to get that one in the first and extend it there in the second," Frost said. "We hit a few pipes and those types of things. We found a way; it wasn't pretty, but hopefully we will be a little better and come out a little better and find a way to advance in the playoffs here."
The teams meet in game two of this weekend's playoff series at 4:07 p.m. CT Saturday afternoon at Ridder Arena. The Gophers look to seal the best-of-three series and punch their ticket to the 2017 WCHA Final Face-Off, set for March 4-5 at Ridder Arena.
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