BEMIDJI – It wasn’t a sweep, but the Bemidji State hockey team will take it.
Brady Wacker scored the team’s lone goal, Andrew Walsh made 36 saves and the Beavers earned 3 of 4 points this weekend after skating to a 1-1 tie with Minnesota Duluth Saturday in front of 3,370 fans at the Sanford Center.
“Overall, it was a good weekend,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “You’re going to take 3 out of 4 points. I mean, you have a 1-0 lead going into the third period you hope you can win the third and get those four points. But we needed the points. Those ties aren’t bad but you don’t gain as much ground with ties.”
With BSU’s tie and Michigan Tech’s 6-1 loss to No. 9 Minnesota State in Mankato Saturday, the Beavers pull into a tie for 10th place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings. Both teams have 16 points.
The Beavers (6-17-7, 5-13-6 WCHA) led the Bulldogs (10-16-4, 8-12-4 WCHA) 1-0 after two periods, but UMD found its offense in the final frame. They outshot the Beavers 16-6 in the third period, including Cody Danberg’s equalizer at the 13:13 mark.
“They outshot us 16-6, and had most of the possession in the period,” Serratore said. “It wasn’t a shooting gallery or a snowstorm or anything, but there were too many defensive zone faceoffs. Eventually you’re going to stub your toe, and that’s what happened.”
UMD won the faceoff battle 37-27; Danberg’s goal came off a faceoff.
With the tie, the Bulldogs snapped a six-game losing streak that saw them outscored 13-0 in the final frame.
“That was one of the best third periods we’ve had this season (outshooting Bemidji State 16-6). We had a solid game all around,” said UMD senior winger Jake Hendrickson, who got an assist on Danberg's goal. “The monkey isn’t totally off our back, but it’s a start.”
In the overtime period BSU outshot the Bulldogs 4-1. Both teams had some excellent scoring chances in the period but neither team could net the winner.
“The way things have gone, it would’ve been easy for our guys to go the other way after we got behind,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “But they battled hard, grinded and battled. We finally got a goal and got a point.”
A night after going 4-for-6 on the power play, the Beavers went 0-for-3 in Saturday’s series finale.
So Wacker’s third tally of the season wasn’t technically a power play goal. But it may as well have been.
After a holding call on UMD’s Austyn Young at 15:23, the Beavers’ power play unit had a fantastic shift, cycling the puck beautifully and keeping the puck in the Bulldogs zone. BSU had five shots, but two went wide and three were blocked by Bulldogs.
The penalty expired, but just six seconds after Young skated out of the box, the fruits of the Beavers’ labor paid off. Aaron McLeod fed Wacker in the high slot and Wacker slammed it past UMD goalie Matt McNeely to give the Beavers the lead.
The Bulldogs offense started to hum in the third period. A flurry in front of BSU goaltender Walsh midway through the period generated numerous scoring chances.
Walsh kept it scoreless for a while – including a big glove save on Mike Seidel.
But the Bulldogs tied the game at the 13:13 mark of regulation on Cody Danberg’s first goal of the season.
In the first period, two official booth reviews ended up going against the Beavers.
With five minutes to go, junior Radoslav Illo hit a pipe the first time around. No goal was signaled, but the goal horn went off, so officials needed to discuss it upstairs.
The second time, senior defenseman Jake Areshenko had a puck go off his forearm and in. That goal wouldn’t stand either, but after the review upstairs, the referees also sent Areshenko to the box for a slash at the 17:58 mark.
The teams were already skating 4-on-4, which gave the Bulldogs a 4-on-3 power play. But even that didn’t last long – a late interference call on UMD’s Joe Basaraba at 19:30 set up a stretch of the ever-elusive 3-on-3 hockey. The teams skated that way for about six seconds before Areshenko exited the box.
Walsh ended the game with 36 saves. He made 38 in Friday night’s 4-2 win. McNeely stopped 26 Beavers shots.
"We have a lot of confidence in both of our goaltenders," Wacker said of Walsh's weekend. "Especially in these two games this weekend. Walsh stepped up, made close to 80 saves in two games. He only let in one tonight and made a lot of big saves for us to keep it 1-1."
The Beavers are off next weekend before gearing up for their final two regular-season series. They travel to Grand Forks to take on UND March 1-2 and host Minnesota March 8-9 at the Sanford Center.
“We have to put out best foot forward. We know exactly what we have the next couple weeks,” Serratore said. “It doesn't get any easier, it just gets more difficult. We'll just have to tighten our bootstraps, buckle our helmet and get ready to play some more hockey.”
Minnesota Duluth 0 0 1 0 – 1
Bemidji State 0 1 0 0 – 1
First Period – No Scoring. Penalties – BSU, Boehm (Tripping), 3:16; UMD, Krause (Cross Checking), 3:16; UMD, Smith (Cross Checking), 4:26; BSU, Kinne (Interference), 13:37; UMD, Seidel (Slashing), 17:42; BSU, Jubinville (Slashing), 17:42; BSU, Areshenko (Slashing), 17:58; UMD, Basaraba (Interference), 19:30.
Second Period – 1, BSU, Wacker (McLeod, George), 17:29. Penalties – UMD, Young (Holding), 15:23.
Third Period – UMD, Danberg (Hendrickson),13:13. Penalties – BSU, Illo (Cross Checking), 2:17.
Overtime – No Scoring. Penalties – None.
Shots On Goal – UMD (9-11-16-1-37); BSU, (8-9-6-4-27)
Goalies – UMD, McNeely (27-26); BSU, Walsh (37-36).
Penalties-Minutes – UMD 5-10; BSU, 5-10.
Power Plays – UMD – 0-for-3; BSU, 0-for-3.