Bemidji State women’s hockey team starts fast to beat No. 10 Providence 3-1

Bemidji State's Alex Ehlert skates and protects the puck from Providence's Abby Gauthier during the first period of Saturday afternoon's game at the Sanford Center. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji State women’s hockey team started fast and held on to defeat No. 10 Providence for the first victory of the season Saturday afternoon at the Sanford Center.

The Beavers defeated Friars 3-1 and never trailed in the second game of the season-opening series. Kim Leider and Rachael Kelly scored in the first period, Montana Vichorek added a shorthanded goal in the second period and goalie Zuzana Tomcikova finished with 31 saves.

BSU was good enough to win after Friday’s scoreless draw but there were times the Beavers scrambled defensively and Tomcikova held strong.

“We know we’re not the most skilled team but we are one of the hardest working teams,” Lieder said. “We looked forward to this weekend, so we need to build off of it. It wasn’t perfect hockey this weekend and it never is. It was scrappy.”

The Beavers (1-0-1) are on the road for the next two weekends starting with a two-game series at Ohio State in Columbus. BSU heads to Maine Oct. 14-15 and returns home to face St. Cloud State on Oct. 21-22.

“I’m pleasantly surprised, I didn’t know what to expect coming off the first week of practice and we knew Providence was going to be good,” BSU head coach Steve Sertich said. “This was a good stepping for us heading into Ohio State and a nice way to go into that series.”

Leider started scoring at 8:01 of the first period with a powerful shot from the blue line. She took Natasha Kostenko’s pass from the corner and beat screened Providence goalie Genevieve Lacasse.

Kelly gave BSU a 2-0 lead four minutes later when she put back a rebound off Abby Williams’ shot for her first career BSU goal.

BSU controlled the period and outshot Providence 17-4 in the first 20 minutes.

Vichorek put BSU ahead 3-0 with an unassisted shorthanded goal midway through the second period when Lacasse misplayed a clearing attempt near the top of the circle and was caught out of position. Vichorek blocked the puck along the boards and put back the shot from the blue line for the goal.

The Beavers were outshot 13-6 in the third period but clogged passing lanes and limited good scoring chances.

Tomcikova stopped 53 of the 54 shots she faced in the series against the Friars.

“She was pretty good for a goalie that doesn’t have the stick in her hand very often,” Sertich joked. “She’s spectacular, very intimidating and made some big saves when we broke down. When the Wheelhouses didn’t block them, she did and she did everything we’re hoping we can get out of our goalie.”

PC 0 1 0 – 1
BSU 2 1 0 – 3
First period – 1, BSU Leider 1 (Kostenko), 8:01. 2, BSU, Kelly 1 (Thurston), 12:49.
Second period – 3, BSU Vichorek 1 (unassisted), 9:22, (sh). 4, PC Frade 1 (unassisted), 11:57.
Third period- No scoring.
Shots on goal – PC, 4-15-13-32. BSU, 17-11-6-34 Goalies ‘ PC, Lacasse (34-31). BSU, Tomcikova (32-31).
Power Plays – PC, 0-for-4. BSU, 0-for-4.

Follow Eric Stromgren on Twitter at @estromgren and on Facebook.

Kim Lieder celebrates with the BSU bench after scoring the first goal of the game.

BSU goalie Zuzana Tomcikova makes a save as Marlee Wheelhouse comes in to clear the puck.