Bemidji State's penalty killers were key to first win of season
One of the biggest factors in Bemidji State's first win of the season Saturday at St. Cloud State was the exceptional performance by the BSU penalty kill.
The Beavers killed a Huskies 5-on-3 power play immediately followed by an additional 1:29 of 5-on-4 power play time while trailing 2-1 in the third period.
"I thought we played it very well," BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. "We were in shot lanes, we played tight. We had good, active sticks. The guys just played it to perfection and that was big. After we killed that off I know there was a sigh of relief on our bench and we went after it from there."
BSU rallied for the 3-2 overtime win on back-to-back goals from Ian Lowe: a power-play goal with 3:41 left in the third period and the game-winner 46 seconds into overtime.
"It was a good game, it was up and down and there was lots of action," Lowe said. "I think our penalty kill was a lot better and that helped us keep them off the board on that power play."
The Huskies' power play was set up by a hooking/boarding double minor penalty on Dan McIntyre at 9:12 and a roughing penalty on Jake Areshenko 31 seconds later.
Emil Billberg, Matt Carlson and Ryan Adams killed the first 52 seconds; Matt Read, Brad Hunt and Brady Wacker killed the final 1:08. The killers blocked two shots and goalie Dan Bakala only had to make two saves during the four-minute stretch.
SCSU did not score a power-play goal Saturday after scoring three in Friday's 6-3 win over the Beavers.
"We know how we can play," Serratore said. "We struggled killing penalties so far early in the season, so that's going to help our confidence. I think the biggest thing is we held St. Cloud State, who had eight power plays, to 21 shots in their rink ... I think it was a win against a very good team on the road."
Top line flying
Jordan George is Bemidji State's scoring leader with four goals and five assists through six games. He was a factor in every BSU goal last weekend with one goal and five assists.
The George-Matt Read-Ian Lowe line has 10 of Bemidji State's 13 goals and 22 of the team's 36 points this season.
Defensively the Beavers have allowed 22 goals, which ranks third fewest in the WCHA.
"We can defend very well right now and we just have to manage the puck a little bit better," Serratore said. "We have to try to get some secondary scoring and we'll try to manufacture that."
Bemidji State alum Chuck "The Clawman" Clausen is in his 21st season as the public address announcer for the St. Cloud State University men's hockey team.
Clausen graduated from BSU in 1968 with an elementary education degree and was a teacher for 32 years in St. Cloud before he retired 12 years ago. He currently serves as a supervisor at Sartell High School.
His job at St. Cloud State began in 1990 after a number of years working St. John's basketball games.
Clausen's signature 'Woo!" cheer after announcing a Huskies goal summary is one part of his distinct arena voice.
"I love it, enjoy it. I'm a hot dog to some degree," Clausen said before explaining why he comes back to the National Hockey Center each season. "The excitement. It's D-1 hockey, it's great entertainment and I try to embellish the excitement and keep the fans into it and keep them excited if I can."
Clausen, who recalled the days of BSU hockey in the NAIA under R.H. "Bob" Peters, is supportive of BSU's inclusion into the WCHA.
"I think it's great," he said. "I'm glad the WCHA elected to bring both UNO and Bemidji State into the fold. Serratore has done a great job there. They've always been a good hockey school .. I'm delighted that they can be part of the WCHA."
The Beavers take on last-place Alaska-Anchorage (1-5-2 overall, 0-3-1 WCHA) this weekend at the Bemidji Regional Event Center. Game times are 7:37 p.m. Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday.
Anchorage did not play last weekend. The Seawolves have not won since Oct. 9 and are 0-5-1 since then with all losses decided by one goal.
With first place on the line in Grand Forks last weekend, Minnesota-Duluth split with North Dakota and now leads the WCHA with nine points. UND won 4-2 on Friday and UMD won 3-2 in overtime Saturday.
Nebraska-Omaha continues to be the surprise of the league. The Mavericks are the last undefeated team in the WCHA after sweeping Minnesota State- Mankato last weekend. UNO, which is tied with North Dakota and Wisconsin for second place at eight points, travels to St. Cloud State this weekend.
There were a few notable blowouts this weekend. Colorado College ended a three-game losing streak by routing in-state rival Denver 9-2 to earn the series split. Wisconsin earned three points at Minnesota with a 6-0 rout of the Gophers on Friday and a 2-2 tie on Saturday.
Bemidji State fell out of the the USCHO.com Division I national poll for the first time this year after receiving votes in previous polls.
St. Cloud State, which entered last weekend at No. 20, fell out of the top 20 with Saturday's loss but received 26 votes.
WCHA teams in the top 20 are Minnesota-Duluth (2), Nebraska-Omaha (6), North Dakota (10), Wisconsin (13), Denver (15) and Minnesota (19).