It wasn't pretty, but the Gophers found a way to win against a challenging adversary.
No. 2 Minnesota (9-2-1, 7-2-1-0) swept Bemidji State (0-9-1, 0-5-1-0), winning 6-3 on Friday and 2-1 on Saturday at Ridder Arena. Head coach Brad Frost said Saturday's game exemplified the rivalry between the Gophers and the Beavers.
"They make it hard to play against," Frost said. "They're fast, strong ... and take away time and space. They did that all to perfection tonight."
Minnesota struck first at 11:52 of the first period. Left winger Taylor Williamson took a shot that beat Bemidji State goaltender Kerigan Dowhy after center Catie Skaja won a faceoff. It was Williamson's fourth goal of the season. The Gophers are undefeated this season during games in which they score the first goal.
The Beavers tied the game at 7:26 of the second period when left winger Jacqueline Kaasa beat Gophers goaltender Alex Gulstene on a breakaway.
Right winger Grace Zumwinkle scored the game-winning goal on a power play at 5:06 of the third period. Zumwinkle beat Dowhy with a slap shot that hit the inside of the crossbar. It was Zumwinkle's fifth goal of the season.
Zumwinkle said she was surprised that she scored on that opportunity. "I thought it had a chance," Zumwinkle said. "I was caught off guard but I was happy it went in."
Minnesota killed off four Bemidji State power plays on Saturday. Gulstene stopped 25 shots for her seventh win of the season, and she remains undefeated.
Frost said Minnesota's penalty kill was a difference maker on Saturday. "Our penalty kill has been real good over the last couple of weeks," he said. "It was something that we were struggling with early [in the season]. The players have dug in and found a way to kill those off."
Gophers dig out of hole to take game one
Minnesota didn't let two first period deficits stop it from taking game one of the series.
The Gophers defeated the Beavers 6-3 on Friday at Ridder Arena, after trailing twice during the game. Minnesota scored four unanswered goals after allowing three goals in the first period. Gulstene stopped 19 shots to earn her sixth win of the season.
Bemidji State took a 2-0 lead early in the first period. After Bemidji State scored at 6:31 of the period, Frost called a timeout.
"I wanted to challenge them and get them back to playing how we know we can play," Frost said. "It's a long game. They scored two goals in seven minutes. We've got 53 minutes to figure it out."
Minnesota responded with two goals before Bemidji State center Clair DeGeorge gave the Beavers the lead back with a power play goal at 18:16 of the period.
The Gophers took control of the game in the second and third periods. Defender Katie Robinson got her first goal of the season at 9:53 of the second period. Robinson beat Beavers goaltender Lauren Bench with a slap shot from just outside the slot. Right winger Alex Woken scored twice. Woken scored the game-winning goal at 11:48 of the second period and scored again at 10:02 of the third period.
Woken said Minnesota didn't sink after letting Bemidji State retake the lead. "After the first period, we had to pick it up," Woken said. "[The first] was not the period that we had hoped for, but we started moving our feet. ...Things started to fall into place."
Minnesota will have the weekend off before facing St. Cloud State (4-8-0, 2-6-0-0) in a home-and-home series Nov. 17–18.