BEMDIJI – Once again, the Bemidji State hockey team couldn’t take advantage of its opportunities.
And once again, the result was a Western Collegiate Hockey Association loss.
Dominic Zombo’s goal early in the second period proved to be the difference for No. 14 Nebraska-Omaha, and BSU lost to UNO 2-1 in front of 3,676 people Saturday night at the Sanford Center.
The Beavers (5-14-5, 4-10-4 WCHA) have yet to win a game in 2013 and are now 0-6-2 since taking three of four points from Denver on Dec. 14-15, 2012. It’s the fourth time Bemidji State has been swept this season.
“I thought we played 120 minutes of good hockey (this series) and 60 minutes of real good hockey tonight,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “We can’t ask any more out of our guys than that. Their effort was there, their execution was there, they played very entertaining hockey.
“It just wasn’t the result that we wanted and it wasn’t the result that our fans wanted. But again, you can’t ask any more out of them.”
BSU got on the board first thanks to some nifty passing.
Jordan George grabbed a loose puck just over the UNO blue line with Brance Orban trailing close behind him. After George left Orban a no-look drop pass, Orban in turn found Aaron McLeod streaking with him.
The senior from Ottawa, Ontario, got a shot off before slipping and sliding with the puck into Omaha goaltender John Faulkner.
Officials originally ruled no goal but after a review upstairs the call was reversed, giving McLeod his team-leading 10th goal of the season.
But the Mavericks (15-9-2, 11-5-2 WCHA) answered just three minutes later, with Brainerd native Josh Archibald beating BSU goalie Mathieu Dugas following a 2-on-1 at the 10:36 mark.
Zombo’s goal – which would turn out to be the game winner – put the Mavs ahead just two minutes into the second period, one-timing a pass from Johnnie Searfoss to beat Dugas following a 3-on-1.
The Beavers had a perfect opportunity to tie the game 9 minutes into the second period, when UNO’s Nick Seeler went to the box for a five-minute major and game misconduct penalty for head-butting BSU sophomore Mitch Cain.
The two got mixed up in some extra-curricular activities in response to Cain boarding Seeler a few seconds earlier.
Cain went to the box for two minutes while Seeler was sent off on top of getting a five minute penalty, which was served by Andrew Schmit.
That gave the Beavers nearly three minutes of power play time after Cain exited the box.
BSU had seven shots on the power play, but all were blocked by UNO defenseman or turned away by UNO goaltender John Faulkner.
In the third period neither team got any power play opportunities – there were just a pair of offsetting penalties – and the Mavericks outshot the Beavers 8-7.
The Beavers pulled Dugas with 1:30 to go for an extra attacker but couldn’t get any good looks at the goal; BSU’s Cory Ward lost a faceoff in the UNO zone with 16.6 seconds to go and the Mavs got the clear and the win.
BSU returns to the ice next weekend for a series against another nationally-ranked team, No. 16 St. Cloud State. Serratore said the Beavers have to stay the course despite the 0-6-2 record since December.
“There’s not a good mood in the locker room,” Serratore said. “The guys don’t know what to think. Not a lot of guys have been but in a situation where it’s been this tough. But that’s just the way it goes. It’s sports. Sometimes when it rains it pours and all you can do is stay the course.”
Nebraska-Omaha 1 1 0 – 2
Bemidji State 1 0 0 – 1
First Period – 1, BSU, McLeod (Orban, George), 7:48; 2, UNO, Archibald (Walters), 10:36. Penalties – BSU, Areshenko (Hooking), 10:36; UNO, Team (Too Many Men), 12:20.
Second Period – 3, UNO, Zombo (Searfoss), 1:56. Penalties – BSU, Cain (Boarding), 9:00; UNO, Seeler (Head Butting), 9:00; UNO, Seeler (Game Misconduct), 9:00.
Third Period – No Scoring. Penalties – BSU, Wacker (Slashing), 12:55; UNO, Schmit (Slashing), 12:55.
Goalies – UNO, Faulkner (22-21); BSU, Dugas (26-24).
Shots On Goal – UNO (10-8-8-26); BSU (7-9-7-23).
Penalties-Minutes – UNO 4-19; BSU 3-6.
Power Plays – UNO, 0-for-1; BSU, 0-for-2