BEMIDJI – The Bemidji State men’s hockey team started off fast in its season opener Friday night at the Sanford Center, outshooting Lake Superior State 12-2.
But Lake Superior State’s slow, steady physical team was able to grind out a win.
The Lakers (2-1-0) capitalized on a late major and game misconduct on BSU’s David Boehm, finally beating Beaver goaltender Andrew Walsh with just 3:13 left in the game, to earn a 2-0 nonconference victory.
The teams return to the ice again tonight for a 7:07 p.m. faceoff.
“It’s tough to take a five-minute penalty,” BSU captain Ben Kinne said. “You’ve got guys going in and out every other minute. It’s tough to do. We almost had it, then they ended up getting that goal.”
Walsh stopped 38 of the Lakers’ 40 shots in the game, but the first goal came off an unlucky bounce on a faceoff with only seconds left on the power play.
LSSU’s Chris Ciotti picked up the loose puck near the boards off a faceoff to Walsh’s right. The defense froze with the strange bounce and Ciotti went in, deked Walsh then poked the puck in past Beaver goaltender’s outstretched glove hand.
“It was kind of an awkward bounce off the faceoff,” Walsh said. “They won the draw forward; the guy kind of hacked it and bounced funny on him. He was able to come, I went for a poke check and I was a little too far over.”
That goal ruined an otherwise great day in the net for Walsh, who made a career-high 38 saves.
“I thought he saw the puck well, and controlled rebounds well,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “We had a little faceoff breakdown on that goal. He deserved better tonight.”
Walsh came off the ice for an extra attacker two minutes after the game-winning goal. The Beavers (0-1-0) got two shots on Lake Superior goaltender Kevin Kapalka, but the Lakers controlled the puck the rest of the way, tasking four shots before finally netting the empty-netter with 12 seconds to go.
“At the end of the day I thought both goaltenders gave their team a chance to win,” Laker head coach Jim Roque said. Kapalka made all 28 saves required of him.
“We were fortunate enough to get a big play. Their guy took a bad penalty there, too. And usually those bad ones kill you.”
The Beavers outshot the Lakers 15-7 in the first period, and had the first three power plays of the game – one in the first and two in the second period. But they couldn’t get anything past Kapalka.
“I thought we played with a lot of intensity in the first period,” Serratore said. “And as the game went out we slowly lost some momentum and they really picked it up.”
No one play turned the tide for the Lake Superior State. The Lakers simply kept shooting the puck. Before they knew it, the Lakers were outshooting the Beavers 21-7 in the third period.
“They came out strong after we took it to them in the first,” Kinne said. “They played a really solid road game. They scored a power play goal, got an empty netter, and we didn’t capitalize on our opportunities. It’s tough to win a game when you don’t score.”
The Beavers will need to find their scoring touch to take game two tonight.
“We were concerned about our offense,” Serratore said. “And it was evident today. “We have to work on manufacturing it. It’s a concern for us. We were 0-for-3, 0-for-4 on the power play. It’s not a bad outing, but when you don’t score, it’s an area you need to work on.”
Lake Superior State 0 0 2 – 2
Bemidji State 0 0 0 – 0
First Period – No Scoring
Second Period – No Scoring
Third Period – 1, LSSU, Ciotti (unassisted), PP, 16:51. 2, LSSU, Monardo (Perrault), empty net, 19:48.
Shots On Goal – LSSU 7-12-21-40. BSU 15-8-4-27
Goaltenders – LSSU, Kapalka (27-27, W). BSU, Walsh (40-38, L).
Penalties-Minutes – LSSU, 4-8. BSU, 4-19.
Power Plays – LSSU 1-for-4. BSU, 0-for-4.