BEMIDJI – After letting the freshmen loose in Bemidji State’s first exhibition contest – a 3-3 tie with the University of Manitoba – BSU head coach Tom Serratore wanted more of his leaders out there in BSU’s final exhibition game Saturday night against the U.S. National Under-18 team. Essentially, he wanted more structure.
That’s exactly what he got.
Senior David Boehm scored two goals, both shorthanded, Jeff Jubinville added another shorthanded goal and Brance Orban scored the game-winner as BSU rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Team USA 4-3 Saturday at the Sanford Center.
“I thought there was a lot more structure in our game this week, I was very happy with that,” Serratore said. “Our competition level was good, and our structure on the power play and on the penalty kill was good. Tactically I thought our guys were in the right spots. It was good to see.”
It also didn’t hurt to have more of his veterans in the game. Senior captain Ben Kinne, as well as junior Jordan George, veteran defenseman Brady Wacker and goaltender Andrew Walsh all played Saturday after sitting out against Manitoba.
Orban, a senior, scored the game winner just 58 seconds into the third period with a feed from Jubinville. That put BSU up 4-3 and the Beavers held on from there, weathering two more penalty kills to dispatch a scrappy U.S. Under-18 team.
The penalty kill, though, was very good to the Beavers. Boehm scored twice shorthanded while Jubinville scored once in addition to his assist.
“We just kinda got the go-ahead to be more aggressive,” Jubinville said of BSU’s three shorthanded goals. “Our style doesn’t really go for the offense right away, but if they make a mistake, we have permission to go if we have the chance and tonight it really worked out for us.”
Wacker’s second-period interference penalty turned out to be a good omen for the Beavers. The senior went to the box at the 15:19 mark of the middle frame with BSU trailing 2-1.
Seconds after the door of the penalty box closed, BSU won a faceoff and got the puck in its attacking zone. Jubinville then got a feed from senior Aaron McLeod, brought the puck closer, did a little spin move, then punched the it past goaltender Hunter Miska to even the game at 2-2.
And the Beavers weren’t done. Thirty-eight seconds after Jubinville’s goal at 15:36, Boehm picked up a loose puck at center ice and skated in, unguarded, and easily slid the puck through Miska’s legs for the score.
“We have a lot of team speed, especially on the penalty kill,” Boehm said. “A lot of guys really get after it. We do have the green light there to get up and play the goaltender, if we think we can beat him to the puck. We did that a couple of times and got a couple of goals in.”
The Beavers had scored in a similar fashion earlier in the period. Phil Brewer was whistled for roughing at 2:13 and Boehm answered the call immediately. He raced behind the Team USA net to grab a loose puck. Miska went back there too.
Bad idea. Boehm beat Miska to the puck, then had little trouble skating over to find the wide open net. Miska dove but couldn’t stop the puck and BSU had its first goal at 2:35 of the second period.
Serratore said the key was having his veterans in the game.
“It helps having experienced players in there,” he said. “We have a very experienced group of guys on the penalty kill, so we’ve been using those guys and blending some of the younger guys with them. “We did work on (the penalty kill) the last three days, but a lot of it is just getting reprogrammed. I think they got reprogrammed and got into a groove already. Also, a big chunk is having success on the penalty kill is goaltending.”
Team USA added to the intrigue with it tied the game at 3-3 the 18:30 mark. Ryan Fitzgerald scored the period’s fourth shorthanded goal, lifting one past BSU’s Walsh. Walsh made a total of 12 saves in the game; Will Butcher and Tyler Keller had scored two early first period goals on him to take an early 2-0 lead.
Fabian Sivnert relieved Walsh in the third period and stopped all 15 shots he faced.
In all, BSU outshot Team USA 30-24.
“I think we liked our legs in the first two periods,” Boehm said. “We have a lot of chemistry on the first four lines. We kind of got lackluster there in the last 10 minutes of the game, but I think part of our strength going forward is going to be our team speed.”
The Beavers open regular season play next week with a pair of games against Lake Superior State at the Sanford Center.
Bemidji State 4, Team USA U-18 3
USA 2 1 0 – 3
BSU 0 3 4 – 4
First Period – 1, USA, Butcher (Vatrano), 4:32. 2, USA, Keller (Labanc), 19:48.
Second Period – 3, BSU, Boehm (unassisted, shorthanded), 2:35. 4, BSU, Jubinville (McLeod, shorthanded), 15:36. 5, BSU, Boehm (unassisted, shorthanded), 16:14. 6, USA, Fitzgerald (unassisted, shorthanded), 18:30.
Third Period – 7, BSU, Orban (Jubinville), 0:58.
Shots On Goal – USA 10-5-15-30. BSU 10-11-3-24.
Goaltenders – USA, Miska (24-20, L). BSU, Walsh (15-2, W), Sivnert (15-15).
Penalties-Minutes – USA, 5-21. BSU, 7-14.
Power Plays – USA 0-for-6. BSU 0-for-3.