BEMIDJI, Minn. — Jen Schoullis powered the Minnesota Golden Gophers to a 4-1 road win over the Bemidji State Beavers with her first career hat trick. Amanda Kessel had assists on all four goals for Minnesota (8-1-0, 6-1-0 WCHA).
“Every goal was important,” Schoullis said. “The last goal, the girls were making fun of me because it was an empty-net hat trick, but I’ll take it.”
The Beavers (5-2-2, 2-2-1 WCHA) grabbed a lead at 7:22 of the first period when Tess Dusik caused a Gophers’ turnover that resulted in a shot by Emily Erickson and a rebound goal by Sadie Lundquist.
“We emphasize just getting in their zone, working hard, and making them turn the puck over,” Lundquist said. “Obviously, that’s what we wanted to do, and it worked for us. So hopefully, tomorrow we can do some more of that.”
The game swung eight minutes later. Schoullis carried the puck the length of the ice, cut to the middle, and beat Zuzana Tomcikova along the ice. Megan Bozek had the primary assist, as she did on Schoullis’s second goal a couple of minutes later, getting the puck to the senior captain in the low slot for a 2-1 Minnesota lead.
“We couldn’t get going in the first, and made a few nice passes, and they just happened to go in,” Schoullis said.
The best chance for BSU to tie came in the latter stages of the second period, when Emily Erickson got behind the Gophers’ defense, but her attempt on Noora Räty sailed high and wide.
“We had a couple good chances,” BSU coach Steve Sertich said. “You don’t get a lot against a team like Minnesota, but you got to get them on net.”
Sarah Erickson got Minnesota some insurance, snapping a pass from Kessel by Tomcikova to put her team up two.
“Sara sniped one,” Schoullis said. “The thing went high glove; it was a pretty goal.”
Schoullis sealed the victory into an empty net at 19:41 for her hat trick.
“Bemidji is just such a hard team to play against, because they’re so hard working and they’re in your face the whole night,” Gophers coach Brad Frost said. “They just kind of punch and punch and punch, waiting for you to make a mistake, and then capitalize on it.”
Thanks to eight points combined from Kessel, Schoullis, and Erickson, Minnesota earned the win.
“They’re elite players; they’re national players,” Sertich said of the Minnesota top line. “They play well as a group, they fire the puck, the game is played at a high pace, and you better not turn over the puck against them, because you’ll pay for it.”
Tomcikova finished with 46 saves in the Beavers’ net, while Räty had 23 for the Gophers.
“That was her type of game,” Sertich said of his goaltender. “She’s done that for us for three and a half years now. She was spectacular.”
The teams complete their two-game series Saturday night at 7:07 p.m. at Sanford Center, where 561 fans turned out for Friday’s game.