Olympians return for season playoffs

Karvinen and Tapani compete with team

The UND women’s hockey team will start its playoff series this weekend against rival Bemidji State at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in a best of three series.

For recently returned Olympians Michelle Karvinen and Susanna Tapani, this will be the first time they’ve seen Bemidji this season.

UND won three and tied one of the four games in the regular season against the Beavers. Bemidji will be coming off a weekend sweep of St. Cloud State when the team arrives to take on UND.

Coach Brian Idalski said the team’s last series against the rival was a challenge.

“One of the things that is kind of interesting within the four games is that Tapani and Karvinen haven’t played in any of them,” Idalski said, “So it’s going to be very interesting how they react to playing Bemidji and their style and how disciplined they are.”

After three weeks being away from UND, many of the players are excited for Karvinen to be back. The Olympian also had mixed feelings as to how her team has been playing in her absence.

“It’s great — it has been quite an adventure but I’m glad to be back here with the team,” Karvinen said, “I don’t know, I’ve kind of been talking to people here at home, and I’m not too worried. We just have some scoring problems and I think now, being back, we are the team that has had to face the most adversity. I think now, with everyone being back, I think we can turn it around.”

When the Olympians first left, UND seemed to adjust fairly well, but in the last two series the team has played revealed other weaknesses.

“We haven’t played bad,” Idalski said. “We haven’t played well enough in the crunch — a couple plays here and there to win even. Offensively, we need to make sure we’re much tougher to play against. Possessing the puck and being perimeter is one thing. When we get shots, there has to be multiple cracks at it, and rebounds and shooting with a purpose. There can’t be one and done and then you know have to back check, so that’s one component.”

Having the Olympians back has given the team a boost that will carry it through its games with Bemidji.

“Anytime you know whatever level of hockey you add a player of that caliber to your roster obviously everyone’s, the pace picks up and everyone’s a little more excited, lobbying to play with them, so the mood’s been good,” Idalski said.

Mariah Holland is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].