Monday, February 27, 2017

Game Story: Gopher women's hockey team tops Bemidji State to advance to WCHA Final Faceoff (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

2/27/2017 Game Story

Bemidji State 2
Minnesota 3

MINNEAPOLIS- Kelly Pannek and the rest of the Gophers women’s hockey team were aware of the stakes Sunday against Bemidji State.

Facing elimination and the pressure of a must-win Game 3, the Gophers needed a victory in the first round of the WCHA playoffs to continue controlling their own destiny. Without a win, Minnesota could have lost an opportunity to host a NCAA tournament quarterfinal. It would also leave getting a chance to defend its national championship in doubt.

Minnesota (25-6-5) brushed off a pair of scares, getting top performances from its top players. The Gophers defeated Bemidji State 3-2 at Ridder Arena to win the best-of-three series two games to one and live to play another weekend.

“Before this week even started, we knew what we had to do,” said Pannek, who finished with two goals Sunday set up by linemate Sarah Potomak. “This series shows our season, the ups and downs that we have had and fighting back from adversity in a way. Bemidji’s a great team, and they are so tough to play against. They play such a disciplined style of hockey.”

The Gophers emphasized getting out to a quick start Sunday. Following Saturday’s loss in a game it never led, Minnesota began with an 8-1 advantage in shots, testing the BSU defense with several chances by Pannek.

She was rewarded with the opening goal 10:35 into the game. Afterward, the Gophers did not trail.

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