MINNEAPOLIS — Hannah Brandt scored the game’s first and last goals as Minnesota survived a sudden Bemidji State burst and emerged with a 5-3 win and a series sweep.
The Gophers (28-1-1, 22-1-1-0 WCHA) had scored the series’ first 14 goals and appeared to be cruising with a 4-0 lead halfway through when the Beavers responded with three goals in less than two minutes.
“Similar to yesterday, only they were scoring goals in a short amount of time and we weren’t,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said.
Alex Citrowske of Bemidji State (9-18-3, 6-16-2-1 WCHA) took advantage of four-on-four play to get behind the defense and beat Amanda Leveille on a breakaway.
Former Gopher Stephanie Anderson, playing her first series in Ridder Arena as a visitor, reduced the deficit to 4-2 seconds after the teams returned to full strength.
“I got a tip right from the point, and I just tipped it in,” Anderson said.
She’d nearly broken the ice for the Beavers on another breakaway on her previous shift, but her shot encountered only the pipe.
“I felt it come off my stick, but just got a ting out of that one,” Anderson said.
When Tess Dusik scored an unassisted goal before another minute passed, the Beavers trailed by only one and looked poised for an historic comeback. However, Minnesota called time out and Brandt restored order for the hosts by redirecting a Milica McMillen shot with a minute and change remaining before the second intermission.
“I just stuck my stick out,” Brandt said.
With a multi-goal lead restored, Minnesota turned conservative over the final 20 minutes, holding BSU to just three shots on goal.
“They’re a tough team to come back on anyhow,” Bemidji State coach Steve Sertich said. “When they got the two-goal advantage, it made things difficult, but nobody quit.”
The Beavers called a timeout with three minutes to play to plot a final charge.
“We were going to try to pull the goalie and get the puck in their end and get [Brittni Mowat] out of the net — get some extra players out there, but just couldn’t get it out of our zone, unfortunately,” Anderson said.
Brandt and McMillen wound up with three points for the Gophers, and defenseman Danielle Williams had a pair of assists for the Beavers.
“I told the team I was awfully proud of the way — to bounce back after a terrible game yesterday,” Sertich said. “There are some teams that would go in the tank and play two bad games. We came back and got three quick ones, and all of a sudden, it was a game.”
The surge was unexpected, because Minnesota hadn’t allowed more than two goals in a game since losing to North Dakota back in November.
“We’ve struggled scoring this year, and we’ve had pockets where we get a few,” Sertich said. “Today, we threw some shots on goal and got something out of it.”
Brandt opened the scoring on a first-period power play for Minnesota, taking the carom of a McMillen shot off the end boards and tucking it behind Mowat.
“I’d like to say we work on that, but we don’t really,” Brandt said. “It just worked out well, because the goalie was still up for the shot.”
Just 24 seconds after Dani Cameranesi scored the 15th goal of her freshman season on a deflection to make it 2-0, classmate Kate Flug notched her first goal as a Gopher.
“I was playing with some pretty good linemates out there,” Flug said. “They’ve been feeding me the puck all weekend and it just wasn’t working out until that last time. Maryanne Menefee passed me that puck and I just had a wide-open net. Pretty exciting.”
Rachael Bona scored her team-leading 19th goal five minutes later before the Beavers made a game of it.
“They’re not a 10-0 team,” Brandt said. “The bounces went our way last night.”
The game honored Lilah Kelley, niece of BSU player Jenessa Philipczyk and the daughter of Minnesota alumna Jenelle (Philipczyk) Kelley, who is a patient at Amplatz Children’s Hospital. The 2,143 fans were given gold T-shirts supporting Minnesota’s Unlimited Dance Marathon for the hospital.
“Great crowd here tonight supporting a real good cause and so we were happy to get the three points and looking forward to Wisconsin,” Frost said.