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MINNEAPOLIS — Kelly Pannek had two goals and two assists and Dani Cameranesi tallied twice with an assist, but the biggest story of Minnesota’s 4-1 defeat of visiting Bemidji State was the status of the third member of their line.
Sarah Potomak had to be helped off the ice after receiving a hit from Lauren Miller that drew a five-minute major, but not the usual accompanying game misconduct.
“I’m not happy about it at all,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “We lose one of our best players getting crosschecked into the boards, and we’re getting penalties for standing around and other ticky-tack things. It’s frustrating.”
Potomak’s status is doubtful heading into her team’s biggest series of the season thus far, as Minnesota (13-1-2, 11-1-2-2 WCHA) travels to No. 1 Wisconsin.
“It’s not good,” Frost said. “She was down for a while, so we’ll have to reevaluate this week.”
The Beavers (5-10-1, 3-10-1-0 WCHA) showed good jump early and carried play at times in the first period, but when Minnesota went on the power play late in the frame, Pannek needed just 10 seconds to convert. She won the faceoff to Megan Wolfe, got the puck back, carried it through the defense and around goalie Brittni Mowat before tucking it inside the post.
“We kind of know that she overcommits to the puck,” Pannek said. “From yesterday, I just remember her coming really far out for shooters.”
Pannek wasn’t done, and 15 seconds after play resumed after the tossed stuffed animals were picked off the ice, she made it 2-0.
“It’s always fun when you see the teddy bears come down, but it’s kind of a momentum killer, or it can be,” Pannek said. “We just tried to not let it be.”
“She’s been doing that all year,” Frost said. “She’s just such a special player. Her competitiveness and her drive and her compete level is off the charts. She knows how to play the game and is playing exceptionally well right now.”
From there, Pannek set up Cameranesi for a couple of timely goals. The first came six minutes after Madison Hutchinson netted BSU’s lone tally of the weekend to cut the lead to 2-1 in the second period, and Cameranesi completed the scoring after the Gophers had a power-play goal denied upon review.
“Those were as good as they get, just beautiful shots by her,” Frost said.
Mowat had another fine effort, making 45 saves to keep the final score respectable.
Bemidji State hosts Minnesota State on Friday and Saturday.
Afterward, the Gophers’ thoughts were with Potomak.
“It doesn’t matter who it is, it’s not a good play by the other team,” Cameranesi said. “Seeing her down there for that long and you don’t really know what’s going on, that’s tough. Hopefully, we’ll have her for next weekend, but if not, we definitely have some things to work out. We’ll definitely miss her.”