BEMIDJI – At one point during the first period of Friday night’s game at the Sanford Center, Bemidji State mascot Bucky the Beaver aimed a T-shirt cannon right at the glass. That, of course, wasn’t the intended target and the T-shirt landed back on the ice with a thud.
That’s the kind of night it was for the Bemidji State hockey team, too.
A series of first period turnovers turned what had been a scoreless game against St. Cloud State into a 3-0 BSU deficit in a span of three minutes.
And although the Beavers tightened up later in the game and spent the second and third periods playing better hockey, the end result was still the same – another BSU loss.
St. Cloud State (16-10-1, 13-5-1 WCHA) scored three goals in the first period and added another empty-netter late in the third period to defeat Bemidji State 4-0. The loss makes BSU 0-7-2 since defeating Denver midway through December; the Beavers, now 5-15-5 overall and 4-11-4 in the WCHA are still winless in 2013.
“It was a tough start for us,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “It’s hard to come back when you give up three goals like that in the first period. We dug a huge hole for ourselves, we tried like heck to come back but we just couldn’t do it.”
The Huskies scored their first two goals on nearly identical mistakes from the BSU back line midway through the first period.
St. Cloud’s Nic Dowd picked the pocket of one Beaver defender just past the blue line following a cross-ice pass at the 9:35 mark. Dowd took it in, virtually unguarded, to beat Beavers goaltender Andrew Walsh.
Two minutes later, the play evolved almost identically and led to St. Cloud State’s second goal of the game.
Brance Orban sent a cross-ice pass over that missed its intended target. Ethan Prow was right there, along with Joe Rehkamp and Brooks Bertsch for a 3-on-2.
Prow sent it to Rehkamp, who in turn slotted it to Bertsch. Bertsch beat Walsh to make it 2-0.
Serratore had seen enough at that point and sent in Mathieu Dugas to relieve Walsh. The sophomore faced just three shots.
“I guess the bottom line is, two quick goals and you’re hoping he stops one of those,” Serratore said of his rationale behind pulling Walsh.
“I just felt like he was fighting it a bit. My good reaction was to make the move.”
But Dugas didn’t fare much better to start with.
It took just 40 seconds for the Huskies to score again. This time, it wasn’t a BSU turnover that did it but just poor positioning in the defensive zone.
Ben Hanowski beat Dugas following some nifty passing to drain all the life out of the Sanford Center.
“It was an excellent fury,” Huskies head coach Bob Motzko said of St. Cloud’s quick lead. “You have to play a little different system when you come in here, capitalize on mistakes, and we did that.”
The Beavers seemed to regain some life in the game’s second half. After being outshot 14-4 in the first period, the Beavers outshot the Huskies 20-15 in the second and third periods. And that was despite not getting even one opportunity on the power play; the Huskies weren’t whistled for any penalties in the game.
“We tried to put a little more pressure on the forecheck,” Serratore said of BSU’s improved offense late in the game. “I mean, we had to. We had to try and score some goals. We weren’t going to be content and lost 3-0, so we had to score. We had to try and push the envelope on the forecheck.”
SCSU goaltender Ryan Faragher came up big for the Huskies many times in the third period; one sequence early in the third saw eight consecutive shots either turned away by Faragher or blocked by a Huskies defenseman.
BSU’s Phil Brewer had perhaps the best scoring chance of the game late in the third period when Faragher wandered way out of the net only to have Brewer, a sophomore from Cambridge, Ontario, take it from him. Brewer shot it at a wide open net but St. Cloud’s Andrew Prochno came in at the last second and cleared it out of harm’s way.
“Our guys had some chances, but whenever we had scoring chances Faragher came up big,” Serratore said.
Minutes after that final chance, Jonny Brodzinski put the game away once and for all with an empty net goal at 17:31.
“We got a lead, got good goaltending, then we got sloppy,” SCSU coach Motzko said of his team’s late breakdowns. “We had too many turnovers. We kinda stopped making plays, and it got ugly out there. That was one ugly last half of the game.”
Faragher finished the game with 24 saves to earn the shutout. Dugas was solid in relief after giving up the early goal, he made 22 saves.
The teams return to the ice for the series finale at 7:07 p.m. today.
St. Cloud State 3 0 1 – 4
Bemidji State 0 0 0 – 0
First Period – 1, SCSU, Dowd (Unassisted), 9:35; 2, SCSU, Bertsch (Rehkamp, Prow), 11:08; 3, SCSU, Hanowski (Jensen, LeBlanc), 11:57. Penalties – BSU, Boehm (High Sticking), 17:43.
Second Period – No Scoring. Penalties – BSU, McCormack (Cross Checking), 8:56; BSU, Jubinville (Hooking), 19:00; BSU, Areshenko (Tripping), 19:04.
Third Period – 4, SCSU, Brodzinski (Unassisted), 17:31, EN. Penalties – None.
Shots On Goal – SCSU (14-5-10-29); BSU (4-8-12-24).
Goaltenders – SCSU, Faragher (24-24); BSU, Walsh (3-1); Dugas (23-22).
Penalties – SCSU, 0-0; BSU, 4-8.
Power Plays – SCSU, 0-for-4; BSU, 0-for-0.