BEMIDJI – Bemidji State saw the bounces go both ways.
Brady Wacker scored from the blue line and Sam Rendle scored from way back near the red line Friday night – two of the strangest goals you’ll see in a hockey game.
But the Beavers also had some great power play chances thwarted by some bad caroms off sticks at the most inopportune of times.
As has been the case lately for the Beavers, it was the bad bounces that won out.
Nebraska-Omaha held BSU scoreless on the power play for the fifth time in the Beavers’ last six games and won their Western Collegiate Hockey Association game 5-3 in front of 3,536 fans at the Sanford Center.
“I just thought it was a different type of game than we’ve had with Omaha,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “It wasn’t as up-and-down, it was more tactical. I thought they did a very good job with the neutral zone on us. They slowed us down a little bit, they had numbers back.”
The Beavers (5-13-5, 4-9-4) had a chance to tie the game in the final five minutes of regulation when UNO’s Tanner Lane was called for a cross-check at the 15:58 mark of the third period. Despite putting a couple shots on goal on the power play, however, the Beavers couldn’t score.
Pulling goaltender Andrew Walsh for an extra attacker got the Beavers some more shots but UNO’s Johnnie Searfoss scored an empty-netter with 6.5 seconds to go to seal the victory.
“We worked on the power play a little bit this week,” said BSU forward Jordan George, who scored in the second period, his eighth of the season. “We were having trouble getting the puck in the zone in the past; the breakout was a little loose. We got that figured out; we were able to get it in tonight.
“Now we’re making the plays, we just have to convert here, you know? Get the monkey off our backs. We’re 0-for-awhile here, so we’ve gotta figure it out.”
The Beavers were 0-for-3 on the power play in the game and haven’t scored on the power play since Jan. 7 against Western Michigan and are 0-for-15 in those last three games.
“Had we had a power play and some opportunities with our sixth attacker, and we can’t ask for any more than that,” Serratore said. “We had good looks on the power play, we just didn’t convert. We were just a hair off at times.”
BSU kicked off the scoring less than two minutes into the game.
Aaron McLeod won a faceoff in the UNO zone and flipped the puck back to Wacker.
The 5-foot-7 defenseman from Jansen, Saskatchewan, moved a couple inches to his right to get a clear shot then wizzed it past UNO goaltender John Faulkner to put BSU ahead 1-0.
It was Wacker’s first goal of the season and the first since Jan. 14, 2012.
However, BSU’s lead didn’t last long.
Four minutes later, UNO’s Jaycob Megna collected a loose puck that had found its way behind BSU goaltender Andrew Walsh and easily deposited it into the net for the equalizer.
The Mavericks (14-9-2, 10-5-2 WCHA) also scored the next two goals – Matt White at 18:47 of the first period and James Polk at 2:21 of the second – to go up 3-1.
George answered Polk a minute later with his goal to make it 3-2, but White scored his second goal of the game at the 9:21 mark. White finished the game with three points; he also assisted on Searfoss’s empty-netter.
The Beavers trailed 4-2 in the third period when Rendle scored BSU’s second fluky goal. He wound up from the neutral zone and the puck blistered toward UNO goaltender John Faulkner, who didn’t see it coming.
“It’s not too often you see, in any league, a goal scored from the red line,” said Wacker. “But we got a fortunate bounce there, one that it seems like we don’t get too often.”
The Beavers take on UNO in the series finale at 7:07 p.m. today. George and Wacker both said they liked the way the offense was playing. But to beat the Mavs tonight BSU will have to shore up its defense.
“I mean, we were finally able to get three goals,” George said. “Any time your team scores three goals in college hockey you’ve got a good chance to win. But we have to tighten up a little on our defensive end. We were too loose. We were giving up too many opportunities.”
“We didn’t play a terrible game tonight, and we did a lot of things right,” Wacker added. “We just have to tighten up in the grey areas right along the blue line. Tighten up in our defensive zone a little bit. But offensively I think our forewords are skating really well and getting in, moving around in their D-zone.”