BEMIDJI, Minn. - Making a career-high 56 saves, Alana McElhinney (Jr., G., Calgary, Alberta) backstopped the Bemidji State University women's hockey team to their first-ever win over a No. 1 team, defeating the Mercyhurst Lakers 5-3 on Sunday afternoon in the Bemidji Regional Events Center. The win also marks the first win for BSU in the new building as Mercyhurst defeated the women's team 4-0 and No. 2 North Dakota defeated the men's team 5-2 yesterday in the BREC.
"It was great to be able to knock-off a No. 1 team in the country, but you have to start with McElhinney in net," said head coach Steve Sertich. "She was unbelievable and really was the difference."
McElhinney played one of the best games of her career as she picked up her second-ever win over a nationally ranked team. She came through huge between the pipes for BSU making numerous odd-man-rush saves and denied Mercyhurst's Olympic Gold-Medal winner Megan Agosta from scoring.
"You never hope to have fifty plus shots on goal in a game, but you just take them as they come and go from there," said McElhinney in regards to her 56 saves. "(Mercyhurst) really came at us tonight, but our team played great and it was nice to get that first win."
The forward line of Erin Cody (Sr., Roseville, Minn.), Sadie Lundquist (So., Cloquet, Minn.), and Emily Erickson (R-So., Coleraine, Minn.) did just about everything in the game shy of selling popcorn. The line accounted for all five goals, four of the five assists, and chipped-in on defense blocking five shots.
"You can't ask for more than two wingers that are hard workers like that," commented Lundquist about her linemates. "They can capitalize when they need to and it's just a lot of fun out there when you're scoring goals and helping your team beat a team like Mercyhurst."
Even though the Beavers were out-shot in the contest 59-31, BSU jumped out to a huge leading scoring the first four goals of the contest. Mercyhurst almost had the first goal of the game, but the referees ruled no-goal on the play as they determined that the Mercyhurst played had kicked the puck into the net.
Lundquist picked up the first women's goal in the BREC at the 8:24 mark of the first period. After receiving the puck from Erickson, Lundquist fired the puck on net from the right of the crease. The puck hit Laker tender Hillary Pattenden and flipped over her shoulder, barely crossing the line for the Beaver goal.
The Beavers would end the first period with a 1-0 lead, with McElhinney making 16 stops in the period.
Entering the second period, Bemidji State caught Mercyhurst off guard and scored a fast goal to take a 2-0 lead. Fifteen seconds into the period, the Beavers found themselves in an offensive-zone face off to the right of the Laker goal. Lundquist won the draw back to Cody who rifled a shot that went bar-down for her first goal of the game. Lundquist score her second of the game after she gained controlled of the puck from a Mercyhurst turnover at the 15:18 mark of the period.
With a three-goal lead, the Beavers kept looking for offensive chances. Towards the end of the period, defenseman Montana Vichorek (Jr., Moose Lake, Minn.) took a shot from the point that was blocked by the Lakers' Kyleigh Palmer. The rebound off Palmer found its way to the stick of Cody who put in the back of the net to give BSU its largest lead of the game. With the score 4-0 and the second period winding down, Mercyhurst capitalized on a Bemidji State breakdown and scored with one second left on the clock to make the bring the score to 4-1 after two periods.
Carrying the momentum from the late-second-period goal, Mercyhurst came out firing harder in the third period. Just 49 seconds into the period, Bailey Bram would score for the Lakers cutting the BSU lead to two. Luckily the Beavers stepped up defensively and started to stall the Laker offense.
In the remaining six minutes of the game, BSU was called for a tripping penalty and went on the penalty kill for the seventh time in the game. The Beavers entered the PK having shut down the previous six power plays for Mercyhurst. However, Bram would find the back of the net for the Lakers during the power play with five minutes remaining in the game to bring the score to 4-3.
In the remaining minute of play, Mercyhurst brought Pattenden to the bench for an extra attacker. Looking for the tying goal the Mercyhurst attack was broken up by Cody who chipped the puck out of the zone to Erickson who scored an empty netter with ten seconds left in the game to solidify the first-ever win over a No. 1 team for the Beavers.
In total, the Beaver defense blocked 24 shots in the contest, including six by Vichorek.
The Beavers will return to the ice next weekend when they play a pair of exhibition games against the Minnesota Whitecaps. Friday's game will be in Evelth, Minn. and is set to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday's game will be back in the BREC and is set for a 4 p.m. start.