Article Written by Felicity Harding. Photo by Samantha Roering.
The St. Cloud State women’s hockey team played in their first in-conference matchup over the weekend against the Bemidji State Beavers. With a lot of new players for the season, the team entered their weekend looking to continue what has already been a strong start to the 2023-24 season.
“I think we’re just really excited for the year. Obviously, we have a lot of new girls, so it was hard to have basically half the team be new,” SCSU forward CC Bowlby said. “Because we are so new, we are so adamant about developing relationships and getting to know each other.”
St. Cloud started the weekend series on Friday night which saw them take a 1-0 lead five minutes into the first with a goal from Laura Zimmermann, a forward from Ringgenberg, Switzerland. The assists on Zimmermann’s goal went to Sofianna Sundelin and Klara Hymlarova.
The first period was massively tilted towards St. Cloud’s side with them putting 13 shots on goal compared to Bemidji’s four shots, one of which was a goal from freshman forward, Hailey Armstrong. Armstrong’s goal was assisted by Taylor Nelson and Makenna Deering.
The second period saw a lot more back-and-forth hockey with both teams scoring a goal. Six minutes into the second SCSU forward CC Bowlby found the back of the net with help from Katie Kaufman and Alice Sauriol.
Bemidji evened things up only 20 seconds later with another goal from Hailey Armstrong assisted by Taylor Nelson and Gabbie Smith.
With the game tied at two entering the third period, St. Cloud decided to take matters into their own hands. In the first four minutes of the period, St. Cloud was able to find the back of the net three times with CC Bowbly getting her second of the game and Klara Hymlarova and Avery Farrell each getting their first.
SCSU senior goaltender Jojo Chobak made ten saves on 12 shots in St. Cloud’s 5-2 win over the Beavers.
St. Cloud entered the second game of the weekend looking to complete the weekend sweep. St. Cloud started the game out strong outshooting Bemidji 10-5 in the first period, but they could not find the back of the net.
In the second period, CC Bowlby found the back of the net, for her third of the weekend, giving St. Cloud a 1-0 lead. While SCSU was outshot 9-5 in the second, they were able to hold onto their lead with the help of senior goaltender Sanni Ahola.
“She just seems very calm and she’s controlling pucks and the flow of the game really well,” said SCSU head coach, Brian Idalski of Ahola.
While St. Cloud did not play a perfect game, they proved to be no match for Bemidji in the third period outshooting Bemidji 14-3 while adding another two goals to their lead from Dayle Ross and Alice Sauriol. St. Cloud ended their weekend series with a sweep and a shutout for Ahola.
Both St. Cloud goaltenders, Ahola and Chobak, had stellar weekends making big saves and helping bail their team out when needed.
“Sometimes you make a mistake in the d-zone, you’re confident your goalie can back you up and save that for you. It’s really nice to have very good goaltenders in the net both games of the weekend,” Bowlby said on the reliability of Chobak and Ahola.
Ahola now has a record of 3-0 this season with all three games being shutouts, giving her a 1.00 save percentage. With her three shutouts, Ahola is now tied for most career shutouts in St. Cloud State Women’s Hockey history. Ahola is in a four-way tie with Emma Polusny (2017-20), Ashley Nixon (2007-10), and Lauri St. Jacques (2003-06).
Not only did Ahola tie for all-time shutouts at St. Cloud, but head coach Brian Idalski also got his 300th collegiate win Saturday night, becoming only the 25th NCAA coach to do so.
“I guess it’s more credit to the fact that I’ve coached some pretty awesome players,” Idalski said on his 300th win, “I just feel blessed to be able to keep doing it and to get a second chance after everything that happened at North Dakota.”
St. Cloud’s Women’s Hockey team is off to their best start in team history with a record of 5-1-0 and look to keep things rolling for their games against the University of Minnesota, Northeastern, and Sacred Heart/Lindenwood.
“It’s nice to come into this strong and then go into Tuesday with two wins under our belt,” Bowlby said.