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College women's hockey: UMD excited to play Bemidji State in benefit game

Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer Bemidji State forward Emily Bergland (9) skates around Minnesota Duluth defenseman Linnea Hedin in the first period Oct. 27 at Sanford Center in Bemidji. The Bulldogs and Beavers meet again Monday in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum Women’s Face-Off Classic in Isanti, Minn.

The Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey team will take the ice Monday for a third game in four days to face WCHA rival Bemidji State for the third time in 11 days.

Bulldogs coach Maura Crowell isn’t worried about her team’s conditioning, though, and she expects the motivation to be at an all-time high as well because Monday's 6:07 p.m. nonconference contest against the Beavers is the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum Women’s Face-Off Classic at Isanti (Minn.) County Arena.

All proceeds from the event will go to Isanti native Matt Olson, who is recovering at home from a spinal cord injury suffered in February 2016 while playing for the Chicago Cougars of the Tier III U.S. Premier Hockey League.

“Three games in four days can be tough,” Crowell said, “but when you’re going to a different place, you’re a part of something that’s really special where you are giving back to the community and a family that really needs it, I think that gives you an extra spark other than just playing another normal game. Normal games are exciting, but this is a special event and I think that will help.”

Olson played his youth hockey at Isanti County Arena before going on to play high school hockey for Totino-Grace. He had a short stint with the Cloquet-based Minnesota Wilderness of the Tier II North American Hockey League in 2014-15 before going to play in the USPHL in 2015-16.

Crowell said the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame reached out to UMD about playing in the game. In addition to the nonconference showdown between the Beavers and Bulldogs, the USPHL’s Minnesota Blue Ox — owned by Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau — and Minnesota Moose will play after the women’s game. There also will be a silent auction and a chance for fans to take a picture with Herb Brooks’ 1980 Olympic gold medal during the event.

“We’re looking forward to playing,” Crowell said. “I think 90 percent of the players would say they’d rather play a game than practice.”

After losing six straight, the Bulldogs (5-7 overall, 3-7 WCHA) have won three of their last four, splitting at Bemidji State two weeks ago and sweeping St. Cloud State 3-2 in overtime Friday and 4-2 Saturday.

The Beavers (2-7-1, 1-5) haven’t played since losing 3-2 and winning 2-1 to UMD at home Oct. 27-28.

UMD freshman forward Naomi Rogge has tallied three goals and two assists over the last two weekends to take over the team scoring lead with 11 points. Her six goals are tied with freshman forward Ashton Bell for the team high. Bell scored in both wins over the Huskies, giving her four goals in the last five games.

The six-point weekend against St. Cloud State boosted the Bulldogs to fourth in the WCHA standings. After Monday's game, UMD is off until Nov. 17-18 when it hosts Minnesota State-Mankato in WCHA play at Amsoil Arena.

“To sweep any WCHA team is difficult,” Crowell said Saturday. “We’re thrilled to come away from this weekend with six points. We play Bemidji Monday and then we have a little break. Hopefully two wins turns into three and we keep a little streak going.”

UMD (5-7) VS. BEMIDJI STATE (2-7-1)

What: U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum Women’s Face-Off Classic

When: 6:07 p.m. Monday

Where: Isanti County Arena, Isanti, Minn.

Twitter: @UMDWHockey

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

(218) 723-5317