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Beavers happy with performance against highly ranked Bulldogs

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Beavers happy with performance against highly ranked Bulldogs
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The Bemidji State men's hockey team has yet to win a game this season as a member of the WCHA, but there was plenty to like in last week's overtime games with Minnesota-Duluth.


The Beavers rallied Friday only to lose 3-2 with 7.9 seconds left in overtime. On Saturday, the Beavers were able to gain the 1-1 overtime tie when Emil Billberg forced overtime with his first goal of the season with 1:31 left in the game.

"Overall I thought we played pretty solid back-to-back games against one of the best teams in the country who has the best offense in the country and has the best line in the country," Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said. "So when you factor all of those things in, I think you have to be pretty happy. When you look at it, we were seven seconds from a split."

UMD, which moved up to No. 2 in this week's national poll, came into the weekend averaging five goals per game. The Bulldogs could not score on BSU during even-strength play, but took advantage of BSU penalties and scored all of their goals on the power play.

After giving up two goals in the first 10 minutes of Friday's game, Bemidji allowed only three goals the rest of the weekend in a strong defensive effort.

The Beavers killed four of the five UMD power plays in the game, including a key 5-on-3 midway through the second.

"That was a great kill and it was a second-period kill," Serratore said. "Because you have the long line change, you can compound the difficulty of trying to kill one of those off because typically in a 5-on-3 in the second period you can't get your three guys off ever."

Ryan Adams had two blocked shots and Brad Hunt had one blocked shot on the kill.

"It was a great performance there and I don't want to say it was a momentum changer because there was no momentum, but it kept us in there," Serratore said.

A rare tally

Emil Billberg's game-tying goal on Saturday was a little surprising considering the senior Swede's last goal came in November of last season and he only has five goals in his career.

The goal did not surprise Serratore, who credited Billberg for battling through injuries during his time at Bemidji State.

Billberg lost the last 12 games of his freshman year to a knee injury and missed a month of his sophomore season to a broken finger.

"Emil's just a totally different player this year," Serratore said. "He's got jump in his legs, he's been consistent, his battle level is high and he's really adapted to the North American game ... I was very proud of Emil and happy for him because he's had a good month of hockey here so far."

Dugas' solid start

Sophomore goalie Mathieu Dugas found out he was going to start Saturday night's game after practice that morning.

Serratore emphasized the 0-3 start heading into Saturday's game as the deciding factor to start Dugas for the first time this season.

"It was kind of a hunch," Serratore said. "Baks (Dan Bakala) has played very good this season - don't get me wrong - but we're 0-3. It's kind of like a pitcher: he might have a low ERA but we still have to win. We just wanted to change some things up and we threw a few wrinkles in there and one of them was Doogie, and Doogie played well. "

Dugas played in nine games last season and was 3-2-1 with a .918 save percentage and a goals-against average of 1.93.

"We're fully confident in the way Mathieu plays," Serratore said. "It doesn't matter who we put in the net, we're very content with all three of our goalies to be quite honest with you."

Scouting St. Cloud

The Beavers face St. Cloud State this weekend in their first road series this year. The Huskies are 3-4-1 this season and have yet to win back-to-back games. St. Cloud split with Quinnipiac last weekend., losing the opener 4-2 Friday and winning 5-2 Saturday.

Around the league

After losing three straight games, Minnesota swept Colorado College on the road last weekend for its third straight win. Minnesota State Mankato earned three points in the WCHA standings last weekend with a win and tie at Alaska-Anchorage. The Mavericks are tied with the Gophers and North Dakota for second place in the WCHA standings with six points.

Anchorage and Bemidji State remain as the only teams in the WCHA without a win.

DU's Martin stable

Denver senior Jesse Martin suffered a season-ending injury in Saturday's 3-0 win over North Dakota in Grand Forks.

Martin suffered three fractures to his C-2 vertebrae in his neck after a collision with UND's Brad Malone at 11:06 of the second period. Malone was assessed a charging major penalty and a 10-minute game misconduct.

Martin was taken off the ice on a stretcher and underwent tests at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks before he was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

Martin has feeling in all of his extremities and is undergoing tests at HCMC, according to a press release from Denver University Athletics.

National poll

The Beavers were unranked last week but received 10 votes in the poll. This week BSU dropped down to two votes.

Pioneer staff reports