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Goalie Andrew Walsh makes a save on Alaska-Anchorage forward Hudson Friesen as defenseman Matt Prapavessis moves in to help out in the first period of Friday’s game at the Sanford Center. BSU Photo Services

Men's hockey: Bemidji State defeats Anchorage 4-1

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BEMIDJI – Determined not to let a poor first period beat them this time around, the Bemidji State men’s hockey players made it past the first 20 minutes tied with Alaska-Anchorage 1-1 in their Western Collegiate Hockey Association game Friday night.

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For the Beavers – who were outshot 63-16 in the first period in their previous four games – that was as good as a win.

BSU used that first-period momentum to take the lead on Ruslan Pedan’s power play goal in the second period and went on to win 4-1 in front of 3,627 people at the Sanford Center.

“I think we played well,” Pedan said. “We played a full 60 minutes. It was a good game. We have to get points at home, especially after those two on the road that we lost.”

The Beavers (4-6-1, 4-3-0 WCHA) were swept last weekend at Ferris State but recovered from the sweep and moved up in the standings with Friday’s win. BSU, with eight points on the season, is a point behind first-place Ferris and a point ahead of third-place Bowling Green. The Seawolves (5-3-0, 2-3-0 WCHA) move into a five-way tie for fourth place.

Friday night the Beavers scored twice on the power-play – their third straight game where they scored at least two goals on the man-advantage. But as BSU head coach Tom Serratore said, it was a pair of strange ones that led to the BSU victory.

“It was a different game,” Serratore said.

“We scored two power play goals but they were kind of two unconventional power play goals. It was nice that the guys found the goals. It was kind of a crazy game. Special teams were good, but I thought at times there weren’t a lot of scoring chances for either team.”

Pedan, a freshman from Moscow, Russia, has turned out to be a revelation on the power play this season. All three of his goals have come on the man-advantage and Friday’s goal was impressive – if unconventional, as Serratore put it.

In the second period the 6-foot-1 defenseman picked up the puck in front of BSU goaltender Andrew Walsh and skated with it all the way down to his own blue line. Just beyond the blue line he fired a wrist shot that utterly fooled Seawolves’ goaltender Rob Gunderson and gave BSU the 2-1 lead at the7:07 mark of the middle frame.

“We’ll take any goal on the power play,” Pedan said of his coast-to-coast snipe. “It doesn’t really matter how it goes in as long as it goes in. But in general we’ve been pretty good on the power play lately, I think, so we need to keep doing what we’re doing.”

“He has a quick shot, a sneaky shot,” Serratore said of Pedan. “That’s why we recruited him. He’s got that ability to see the rink well, he’s got a good shot, he’s got good offensive instincts. He’s getting more and more confidence on the power play as well.”

In the third period Pedan nearly scored again on the power play but hit the post.

Danny Mattson remedied that a few seconds later when Matt Prapavessis took the puck behind the net and hit Mattson, who was behind Gunderson at a weird angle. The UAA goalie never saw Mattson and BSU took a 3-1 lead.

“The power play has been pretty consistent,” Serratore said. “Hopefully that continues on. You need special teams and our special teams were pretty good tonight.”

The Beavers went 2-for-6 on the power play and held the Seawolves to 0-for-4.

Brendan Harms added an empty-net goal with 21 seconds remaining to ice the game.

The Seawolves struck first Friday on Blake Tatchell’s goal 15 minutes into action but BSU tied it up on Markus Gerbrandt’s team-high eighth goal of the season just 90 seconds later. The teams went into the dressing room tied.

“We had a better first period, no question,” Serratore said. “But we still don’t want to give up that first goal, especially at home. But I thought we got better as the game progressed. We had a little more puck pressure later.”

Walsh made 26 saves on 27 shots for BSU while Gunderson made 29 saves for the Seawolves.

The teams return to action for the rematch at 7:07 p.m. today.

Bemidji State 4, Alaska Anchorage 1

UAA 1 0 0 - 1

BSU 1 1 2 - 4

First Period – 1, UAA, Tatchell (Unassisted), 15:14; 2, BSU, Gerbrandt (Robbins), 16:42. Penalties – UAA, Pettit (Tripping the Goalie), 3:08; BSU, Jones (Interference), 8:11; BSU, Prapavessis (Holding),12:08.

Second Period – 3, BSU, Pedan (Unassisted), 7:17, PP. Penalties – UAA, Williams (Holding), 2:53; UAA, Bailey (Tripping), 6:38; BSU, Team (Too Many Men), 16:15; UAA, Dusyk (Tripping), 18:14.

Third Period – 4, BSU, Mattson (Prapavessis, Jubinville), 9:01, PP; 5, BSU, Harms (Ward, Rendle),19:39, EN. Penalties – UAA, Gerbrandt (Tripping), 1:00; UAA, Williams (Interference), 7:36; UAA, Leask (Cross Checking), 10:40.

Shots on goal: UAA – 11-7-9—27; BSU – 7-12-14—33; Goaltenders (shots-saves): UAA – Gunderson (32-29); BSU — Walsh (27-26). Penalties-Minutes: UAA – 6-12; BSU — 4-8. Power Play goals, opportunities: UAA – 0-for-4; BSU — 2-for-6. Three stars: 1-Gerbrandt, BSU; 2-Pedan, BSU; 3-Walsh, BSU.

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on Bemidji State but also covering area high schools. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
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