Freshman forward Aleksandra Vafina scores two goals for Bulldogs

Katherine Wilson had an assist for the Bulldogs

BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sanford Center) - The Bemidji State University women's hockey team was unable to avoid a sweep at the hands of the University of Minnesota Duluth, falling 4-1 to the Bulldogs at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minn. Sunday afternoon in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) tilt. UMD's Aleksandra Vafina had two goals and Bulldog forward Zoe Hickel registered a goal and an assist to propel the visitors.

BSU dropped to 3-11-2 with a 2-9-1-0 conference ledger on the year. The Bulldogs, who were boosted by the return of their captain, senior defenseman Jessica Wong, improved to 7-8-1 and 6-7-1-0 in the league.

The teams played evenly throughout the first period, but UMD escaped the opening stanza with the lead. At the 12:15 mark, the Bulldogs broke the deadlock when Vafina whacked her own rebound past BSU goaltender Alexane Rodrigue (Fr., Monkland, Ontario) on the power play.

Rodrigue, who made her first collegiate start between the pipes in the game, stopped six of seven Bulldog shots in the first while Minnesota Duluth netminder Kayla Black turned aside all 10 BSU chances. The Beavers were aided by the iron when a Jenna McParland shot rang the pipe late in the period.

The Beavers generated more quality scoring chances in the second, but Black stood tall.

Just under five minutes into the second period, Emily Erickson (R-Sr., F, Coleraine, Minn.) broke the puck out of the BSU zone to Natasha Kostenko (So., F, Fannystelle, Manitoba), who sprung Danielle Williams (Jr., D, Waconia, Minn.) on a breakaway out of the penalty box, but Black stuffed Williams' attempt to stuff home a shot with her left pad and went on to deny the rebound.

At the 8:10 mark of the period, Sadie Lundquist (Sr., F, Cloquet, Minn.) and MacKenzie Thurston (Sr., F, Ottawa, Ontario) had a two-on-one odd-man rush, but Thurston's shot hit the right post and went into the corner. The Beavers also failed to capitalize on a five-minute power-play chance that occurred when UMD's Jordan Krause hit Rachael Kelly (So., F, Rosemount, Minn.) from behind in the corner of the Bulldog zone. The extended opportunity was interrupted when Kelly took a cross-checking minor 1:08 into the advantage.

Immediately after Bemidji State's long power play expired, Minnesota Duluth doubled its lead when Hickel zipped a one-time shot past an outstretched Rodrigue off a feed from Marie Delarbre on the tail end of a two-on-one. The Bulldogs carried a 2-0 lead into the second intermission.

In the third period, Jamie Kenyon made it 3-0 at the 6:10 mark and the Minnesota Duluth defense didn't concede a shot on goal until there was 10:13 to play in the game. The Beavers, however, did get on the board with their next shot on goal when Kostenko tipped home an Erika Wheelhouse (Sr., D, Crookston, Minn.) power-play shot from the point. Including last night's game, where UMD head coach Shannon Miller switched goaltenders early in the second period, it took 47 shots for the Beavers to solve Black.

Ivana Bilic (Fr., D, Coquitlam, British Columbia) recorded her first career assist on the play and she and Wheelhouse each notched her third point of the season. Kostenko now leads BSU with five goals in 2012-13.

Vafina closed the scoring with 2:46 to play to secure the 4-1 win for UMD, which is now 55-3-2 against Bemidji State all-time. The Bulldogs outshot the Beavers 33-30 and each goaltender finished with 29 saves. Krause's major penalty was the second committed against BSU this season and Kelly has drawn both calls.

Next week, BSU completes the first half of its season by hosting the top-ranked and defending national champion University of Minnesota Friday and Saturday. After a sweep against the University of Wisconsin this weekend, the Gophers will enter the series undefeated at 18-0-0.