BEMIDJI – Bemidji State couldn’t put Michigan Tech away.
After the Beavers took a 4-1 lead in the second period of their WCHA game against the Huskies Friday night, BSU couldn’t seem to find the back of the net to finish the game.
The opportunistic Huskies took advantage.
Juhjar Khaira scored both of Tech’s third-period goals – including the one that tied the game with just over two minutes left in regulation – and assisted on Alex Petan’s game winner in overtime, as the Huskies scored four unanswered goals to top the Beavers 5-4 at the Sanford Center.
“It’s a tough loss, it’s a demoralizing loss,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “I’d be lying if I said any different. I feel bad for our fans. We had a lead right there and had a meltdown. They converted on a couple power-play goals there, and they basically outworked our penalty kill. And that’s all you can say right there.”
The Beavers (2-4-1, 1-3-1 WCHA) had taken a 4-1 lead late in the second period, when David Boehm made a nifty one-handed pass to Jeff Jubinville all the way around the body of a black-clad Tech defender. Jubinville fired it past Tech goalie Kevin Genoe with 1:02 left to play.
BSU might have gone into the dressing room up 4-1 if not for Michigan Tech’s Blake Pietila. The sophomore collected a rebound from David Johnstone and beat BSU goaltender Andrew Walsh with just 20 seconds left in the period to make it 4-2.
Michigan Tech head coach Mel Pearson said that goal was the real turning point for the Huskies (3-6, 2-5 WCHA).
“I thought the key was that second goal,” Peterson said. “It gave us some momentum, it seemed like. We were dead in the water before that.”
The Huskies didn’t dominate the third period, but they did get both goals and outplayed the Bemidji State penalty kill. Kharia, a freshman, scored at the 12:32 mark to cut BSU’s lead to 4-3, then tied things up at 17:43 to complete the comeback. Both were on the power play.
“Bottom line is we gave up a late goal in the second period after we converted with one minute to go to go up 4-1,” Serratore said. “You go into the locker room 4-1 vs. going up 4-2, your whole mindset is different, their mindset is different.
“But you still have a two-goal lead going into the third period. All you’ve got to do is manage the clock and stay out of the box. We didn’t do that.”
BSU still had a chance to win in overtime, but the Beavers were outshot by the Huskies 4-0.
Beaver defenseman Jake Areshenko said the way BSU played down the stretch was frustrating.
“I think it was just a mental error,” he said. “It was just frustrating. We should have stepped up but unfortunately they came out and wanted it more than we did.”
The Huskies actually dominated play early, getting the first of three power-play goals just three minutes into the game on a score from Steven Seigo. In all the Huskies were 3 for 5 on the power play – something that doesn’t happen often against the Beavers’ penalty kill.
But after that, the Beavers found their footing. Aaron McLeod tied the game with a power-play goal at the 17:44 mark.
Jordan George added another tally with a minute left in the opening frame to make it 2-1, scooping up a shot from Ben Kinne on a 2-on-1 break and punching it past Genoe.
Kinne scored on the power play late in the second period, taking a feed from Cory Ward and sniping it top shelf to put BSU up 3-1. The Beavers did well on the power play, scoring twice on the man advantage for the first time this season.
The Beavers outshot the Huskies 18-14 in the first two periods but the teams were an even 12-12 in the third.
BSU goaltender Walsh made 25 saves on 30 total shots; while Tech’s Genoe made 26 saves on 30 shots.
With Tech’s win Friday, it vaulted above BSU in the WCHA standings to a seventh-place tie. The Beavers are ninth. That makes tonight’s game even more important for BSU.
“That’s a huge win for Tech, and it’s a very difficult loss for us, no question,” Serratore said. “We just have to regroup tomorrow and play with a lot of desperation.”
Michigan Tech 1 1 2 1 – 5
Bemidji State 2 2 0 0 – 4
First Period – 1, MTU, Steven Seigo (Alex Petan, David Johnstone, PP), 2:59. 2, BSU, Aaron McLeod (Danny Mattson, Radoslav Illo, PP), 17:44. 3, BSU, Jordan George (Ben Kinne, Jake Areshenko), 19:00. Penalties – BSU, Brady Wacker (Holding), 2:46; BSU, Brance Orban (Too Many Men), 13:18; MTU, Milos Gordic (Trtipping), 16:07.
Second Period – 4, BSU, Ben Kinne (Cory Ward, Matt Prapavessis, PP), 15:26; 5, BSU, Jeff Jubinville (David Boehm, Brance Orban), 18:58; 6, Blake Pietila (David Johnstone, Steven Segio), 19:41. Penalties – MTU, Justin Fillion (Tripping), 6:10; MTU, Dennis Rix (Tripping), 14:34.
Third Period – 7, MTU, Juhjar Khaira 1 (David Johnstone, PP), 12:32; 8, MTU, Juhjar Khaira 2 (Alex Petan), 17:43. Penalties – BSU, Markus Gerbrandt (Slashing), 2:33; BSU, Graeme McCormack (High Sticking), 12:18; BSU, Cory Ward (Hooking), 17:01.
Overtime – 9, MTU, Alex Petan (Juhjar Khaira), 2:48.
Goalies – MTU, Kevin Genoe (30-26). BSU, Andrew Walsh (27-22).
Shots on Goal – MTU (4-10-12-430). BSU (7-11-12-030).
Penalties-Minutes – MTU, 3-6. BSU, 5-10.
Power Plays – MTU, 3-for-5. BSU, 2-for-3.