With senior Sydney Scobee graduating and junior Alex Gulstene forced to retire in January because of concussions, the Gophers women’s hockey team needed an experienced goalie for the 2020-21 season.
On Friday, that need was filled when Bemidji State’s Lauren Bench joined coach Brad Frost’s program as a graduate transfer. Bench, a former Burnsville High School standout, played 63 games over the past three seasons and has one year of eligibility remaining.
Bench immediately becomes the Gophers’ most-experienced goalie. Scobee started 35 of 36 games this season, and Gulstene started one. Also on the roster are freshmen Makayla Pahl, who appeared in three games, and Olivia King, who did not play.
For Bemidji State, Bench started 31 games in 2019-20, posting a 13-16-2 record with a 2.25 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and four shutouts. Her best performance came in the WCHA playoff series against Minnesota Duluth on Feb. 29, when she made a school-record 70 saves in a 2-1 quadruple-overtime victory over the Bulldogs. She was named WCHA goalie of the week five times last season and goalie of the month for December. In 2018-19, Bench had a school-record shutout streak of 165 minutes, 55 seconds.
“Lauren is a proven goaltender at the college level,’’ Frost said in a statement. “She has won many big games in the WCHA and knows what it takes. We are excited to have her join our Gopher program.’’
Bench, an Eagan native who majored in chemistry at Bemidji State, will pursue a master’s degree in sport and exercise science at Minnesota.