PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Bemidji State University women's hockey team was unable to complete a season-opening sweep of Providence College on Saturday afternoon, falling to the Friars 5-1 in at PC's Schneider Arena. The loss was the first against the Friars in four all-time meetings for BSU after the Beavers posted a tie and a win in a season-opening series against Providence last season and earned a 3-2 victory on the road on Friday to open their 2012-13 campaign.
The defeat to a Hockey East opponent was also Bemidji State's first nonconference loss since Oct. 15, 2010, breaking up nine-game unbeaten streak against non-WCHA foes.
As was the case in Friday night's game, the Friars took the early lead. At 9:33 of the first period, Jessica Vella put Providence in front by converting off a Lexi Slattery breakout pass, making a move to her forehand and sliding the puck past BSU goaltender Abby Ryplanski (So., G, Winnipeg, Manitoba), who made her team debut in the game after transferring from the now-defunct Niagara University program.
The Beavers responded quickly, tying the game five minutes later when freshman Kaitlyn Tougas (Fr., F, Thunder Bay, Ontario) snapped a power-play shot past Friar goaltender Sarah Bryant after collecting a pass from linemate Whitney Wivoda (So., F, Fairbanks, Alaska). The tally was Bemidji State's first of the season on the man advantage.
After the first intermission came and went with the teams knotted at one, PC took a lead it would not relinquish four minutes into the second period when Vella notched her second goal of the game. Late in middle frame, the Friars' Brooke Simpson launched a Molly Illikainen feed past Ryplanski to make it a two-goal game. Just eight seconds later, Providence's Corinne Buie won a faceoff to Haley Frade, who carried the puck along the left wing and capped the scoring in the period by sliding home a backhand shot to make it 4-1.
Providence added a fifth goal with under five minutes to play in regulation when Nicole Anderson found the back of the net.
Bryant finished the game with 12 saves to earn her first career victory, while Ryplanski stopped 21 of the Friars' 26 shots on the afternoon. BSU converted on one of its three power-play chances in the game and remained perfect on the penalty kill, shutting out Providence on the final five of its eight chances on the weekend.
Tougas' goal was the first of her collegiate career. The freshman forward now has two points in games of 2012-13, as do Wivoda and senior assistant captain MacKenzie Thurston (F, Ottawa, Ontario) after registering an assist apiece in each game in the Friday-Saturday series.
Bemidji State will return home for its first game at the Sanford Center contests and its WCHA-opening series against St. Cloud State University next weekend before hitting the road to open the University of Wisconsin's brand new LaBahn Arena the following week.