Bakala, Kinne lead Beavers past Western Michigan 3-0
Water-tight goaltending and a potent power play propelled the Bemidji State University men's ice hockey team to a 3-0 non-conference victory over Western Michigan University Sunday at Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Sophomore goaltender Dan Bakala turned away 26 shots en route to his second consecutive shutout, the third of his career, while sophomore forward Ben Kinne matched a career-high by netting two goals and Matt Read and Brad Hunt each pitched in three assists as the Beavers snapped a season-long three-game winless streak (0-2-1) and improved to 14-4-2 on the season.
Special teams play was pivotal in the Beavers' 14th win of the season. A power play that had been held scoreless in its last 11 opportunities, a streak spanning nearly seven periods, accounted for all of Bemidji State's scoring on the afternoon as the Beavers were an efficient 3-for-6 on the man advantage. In addition to special teams offense, the Bemidji State penalty-kill unit snuffed out all five of the Broncos' power-play chances to finish the weekend holding WMU scoreless on nine man advantage opportunities.
After the first period of play, the score remained tied at 0-0, bringing immediate flashbacks of a game between the teams the night before that was played in its entirety without a single goal. But just 35 seconds into the second stanza, BSU's junior winger Ian Lowe broke the scoreless streak after four periods with his career-best eighth goal of 2009-10 with help from Read and Hunt. The goal came with just eight seconds remaining on a power-play that carried over from a hooking infraction called on WMU's Tyler Ludwig late in the first period.
Kinne put Bemidji State up by two goals at the 9:53 mark when he took passes for Hunt and Read and converted the Beavers' fourth power-play chance of the afternoon into his fifth goal of the season. Bakala piled up 11 of his 26 saves in the period and kept the Broncos off the scoreboard as the Beavers skated to the locker room after 40 minutes of play up 2-0.
Kinne added his sixth lamplighter of the campaign at the 11:01 mark of the third period to give Bemidji State a 3-0 advantage. Adding their third assists of the game on the play, Read set a new career-best, while Hunt equaled a personal-best of three helpers set Mar. 7, 2009 versus Robert Morris University.
Bakala was again spectacular in net versus the Broncos posting back-to-back shutouts for the first time in his career as he improved to 11-2-2 on the season and climbed to third in the country in goals against average (1.71) and fourth in save percentage (.937).
Jerry Kuhn was tagged with the loss after allowing three power-play goals while totaling 27 saves in 60:00 minutes of play. He falls to 1-3-1 on the season.
The victory gives the Beavers an 3-2-1 edge in the all-time BSU/WMU series, while it improves the team's record to 3-1-2 versus teams hailing from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
Bemidji State (14-4-2; 8-0-0) now takes a week off of competition while preparing for a return to College Hockey America play. Jan. 15-16, BSU travels to Lewiston, N.Y. for a league match up with Niagara University (3-11-2; 1-3-1 CHA).