After enjoying one of its best seasons two years ago, Bemidji State struggled mightily in 2012-13. The Beavers allowed the most goals in conference play, and only St. Cloud State scored fewer.
The top two scorers graduated, so BSU will need to rebuild around younger players like sophomore Kaitlyn Tougas and transfers Kristine Grenier and Stephanie Anderson from Mercyhurst and Minnesota, respectively. The offensive output figures to be closer to last season’s 49 goals than the 101 scored two years ago. Coach Steve Sertich is a master at making do with less, so perhaps he can craft an effective power play out of the players at his disposal.
That could be enough to earn more wins if a solution can also be discovered in goal. Freshman Brittni Mowat arrives from Pembina Valley to offer another option and started both games at Lindenwood to open the season, posting a win and a tie.
Help is also needed on the blue line that loses ace shot blocker Erika Wheelhouse. Some good size is available at the position in players like seniors Allie Duellman and Danielle Williams and sophomore Ivana Bilic.
“You look at St. Cloud, Bemidji, and Mankato, and they knocked off some teams last year, and I would expect them to do the same this year,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “I don’t think those teams lost as much as some of the upper-echelon teams in our league, so they’ve got some experience coming back, and they’re going to be very dangerous teams as well. I think our league, top to bottom, is probably as open as it has ever been.”
On paper, Bemidji State likely has the least talent in the league. However, Sertich is good at getting his teams to overachieve, and I look for that to be the case again this year. To add an additional carrot on the end of the stick, the Beavers host the WCHA Final Face-Off for the first time in 2014.