Hannah Brandt had been quiet for much of the WCHA season.
Had been quiet.
Saturday night, she came up with two goals and an assist when Minnesota needed it in a 4-3 win at Bemidji State.
“I finally was able to put the puck in, which I’ve been struggling with this year, so that was nice,” Brandt said. “Overall, our team needs to play better.”
Brandt scored the game-winning goal at 12:46 of the third period for the Gophers (8-0-0, 6-0-0 WCHA), getting her stick on Baylee Gillanders’ shot and deflecting it past BSU goalie Brittni Mowat.
“I saw the puck going wide a little bit, so I thought I might as well try and get something on it, and it happened to hit my stick and go perfectly in the net, which I obviously was happy about,” Brandt said. “It’s not a set-up play or anything – it just worked out.”
Minnesota coach Brad Frost said he started Brandt’s line and told them not to come off the ice until they scored.
“We need to get [Brandt] going and for her to get that first one was big for us, but more importantly, that game-winner there at the end was huge for her and her confidence, and hopefully, she continues to go,” said Frost.
Mowat had another strong performance in net for BSU (3-4-1, 0-2-0 WCHA) in recording 27 saves.
“She played really well this weekend,” Brandt said. “I was pretty impressed with her.”
The Beavers as a team had their moments on Saturday.
“Other than the second period, I thought we played pretty well,” Beavers’ coach Steve Sertich said. “The second period was awful. Our goaltender made some key saves and kept us in it. Any time you’re close going into the third against a team like that, that’s what we were hoping. We gave them a scare.”
The scare came because Hanna Moher was able to bury a rebound before Minnesota goalie Amanda Leveille could cover up a loose puck.
“I think it was more [Tess] Dusik who did all the work,” Moher said. “I just kind of trailed and was in the right spot, got to the net.”
Junior Alex Citrowske had the other assist on the play, her second helper of the game.
“We had spurts of playing the way we know we can play and doing a good job and then we had spurts where we just allowed them to dictate the pace and the pressure,” Frost said. “The reason we define success in terms of leaving it all out on the ice and doing everything you can to help your team win is because the big scoreboard lies every once in a while. Tonight, Bemidji probably deserved better than what they got.”
The Gophers took a 3-2 lead just 3 1/2 minutes into the middle frame. Rachael Bona finished off a two-on-one rush with Brandt, flipping the puck into the cage for her sixth goal of the season.
“I like to pass on two-on-ones, which is not always the best, but in that case, it was a good play, I guess, because she scored,” Brandt said.
A back-and-forth opening period settled nothing. Minnesota took a lead on the first shift on a Brandt snipe.
“That was a good start for us, but I think maybe we relaxed a little too much and thought we had the game under control, which is never a good thing, especially against a team like Bemidji,” Brandt said.
Jenessa Phillipczyk got it back for Bemidji State by depositing a rebound to tie it at 1-1. The hosts took their first lead of the weekend when Lauren Miller placed her shot on a two-on-one inside the far post.
Kelly Terry blazed around the right edge and across the goalmouth and slid the puck into the net in the final seconds to send the teams to the first intermission knotted at two.
“We just kept getting pinned in our own end,” Terry said. “To finally get it at the end was kind of relieving, but it definitely wasn’t satisfying because the whole first period wasn’t great as a whole.”
“That’s a cardinal sin, right?” Sertich asked. “We get scored on in the first minute and the last minute of the period and that’s a mental mistake on our part.”
Overall, it was a good bounce-back by the Beavers after being shut out on Friday.
“It was probably the most fun we’ve had this year in a game,” Moher said. “It’s fun when you’re the underdog and you have nothing to lose.”
Bemidji State hopes its performance against the No. 1 team in the country will raise their level going forward, starting Friday afternoon when North Dakota visits.
“I think it’s good momentum for the next weekends ahead,” Moher said.
The Gophers play Minnesota State in a home-and-home series next weekend