MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The No. 1 Golden Gopher women's hockey team improved to 28-1-1 on the season with a 5-3 win and series sweep over Bemidji State at Ridder Arena Saturday evening.
Minnesota (28-1-1, 22-1-1-0 WCHA) took a 4-0 lead before Bemidji State (9-18-3, 6-16-2-1 WCHA) stormed back with three quick goals in the second period to come within one at 4-3. However, the Gophers added one more goal and held on for the 5-3 victory.
Sophomores Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights, Minn.) and Milica McMillen (St. Paul, Minn.) led the Gophers with three points each. Brandt recorded two goals and one assist, and McMillen posted three assists. Freshman Dani Cameranesi (Plymouth, Minn.) and sophomore Maryanne Menefee (Lansing, Mich.) each recorded two points as well.
"It turned out closer than maybe it looked like it was going to be in the beginning of the second period," head coach Brad Frost said. "Get that four-goal lead and then give up two and then another right after - similar to yesterday, only they were scoring goals in a short amount of time and we weren't.
"I thought it was a good response after the timeout there in the end of the second to get back up by two and then lock it down in the third. We had a great crowd here tonight supporting a really good cause, so we were happy to get the three points. We're looking forward to heading to Wisconsin."
Minnesota held a "Gold Out" at Ridder Arena in support of the University of Minnesota's Unlimited Dance Marathon for Amplatz Children's Hospital. All fans in attendance received gold t-shirts, and the Gophers and Beavers took part in a ceremonial puck drop in honor of Lilah Kelley, the daughter of Gopher women's hockey alum Jenelle (Philipczyk) Kelley and the niece of current Bemidji State player Jenessa Philipczyk. Lilah is a patient at Amplatz Children's Hospital.
The "Gold Out" crowd saw the Gophers extend the nation's best unbeaten streak to 16 games (15-0-1) with their win over the Beavers.
Sophomore Amanda Leveille (Kingston, Ont.) made 18 saves in her 28th win of the season. Meanwhile, Brittni Mowat recorded 27 saves for BSU and fell to 9-15-3 on the year.
The Gophers took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission after Brandt scored a power-play goal at 7:15 of the opening frame.
For the second-straight game, Minnesota and BSU played a high-scoring second period. The Gophers scored six goals in the second period of Friday's 10-0 win, and the teams combined for a seven-goal second period today.
Minnesota scored two quick goals in the first two minutes of the period as Cameranesi and fellow rookie Kate Flug (Roseville, Minn.) found the back of the net at 1:31 and 1:55, respectively. Flug's tally marked her first collegiate goal.
Junior Rachael Bona (Coon Rapids, Minn.) then gave the Gophers a 4-0 lead with a power-play goal assisted by McMillen and senior Sarah Davis (Paradise, N.L.) at 7:22 of the middle frame before Bemidji State scored three-straight goals in a 1:46 span, beginning with a four-on-four goal by Alex Citrowski at 11:09. Stephanie Anderson and Tess Dusik made it 4-3 before Brandt scored her second of the game to push Minnesota's lead back to two at 5-3 heading into the second intermission.
The third period saw the teams combine for just eight shots as both locked down on defense. Minnesota outshot BSU, 32-21, for the game. The Gophers were 2-for-3 on the power play while holding the Beavers scoreless on their lone opportunity with the man advantage.
The No. 1 Gophers travel to Madison, Wis., for a battle with the No. 2 Badgers next weekend. Friday's game is set for 7:07 p.m. CT at LaBahn Arena, and Saturday's "Fill the Bowl" game is at 7:07 p.m. CT at the Kohl Center.