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Minnesota State’s Dylan Margonari tried to come from behind the goal and stuff a shot past BSU goalie Andrew Walsh but Walsh was in position to make the save. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Men's hockey: Mavericks edge Bemidji State 4-3

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BEMIDJI — After battling back from a two-goal deficit, the Bemidji State men’s hockey team was buzzing going into the second intermission.

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Graeme McCormack’s power play goal with 18.1 seconds to go gave the Beavers new life after being down 2-0 to Minnesota State earlier in the period.

“We battled through the second period and getting that one to tie it up worked out well,” the sophomore defenseman said. “You look for the guys on the power play to deliver in those situations. It was nice to get my first goal, but we really wanted to go into the third period with some momentum. It worked out well.”

Despite that newfound energy from McCormack’s goal the Beavers couldn’t take the lead, and Minnesota State scored two late goals with less than five minutes to play to knock off the Beavers 4-3 in front of 3,623 fans at the Sanford Center.

“It was a great hockey game,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “It was very similar to last night from the standpoint that we started off slow, they dictated the play early.

“I don’t think we could have asked for any more out of our guys. They came back from a two-goal deficit and tied it up. I thought we were carrying play in the third. …. I’d like to have a few shifts over but you don’t get mulligans in hockey.”

The Mavericks (3-3-0, 1-1-0 WCHA) earned the split thanks in part to Johnny McInnis’ goal at the 15 minute, 8 second mark of the third period. McInnis skated around BSU defenseman James Hansen at the blue line then took it all the way in himself, beating Andrew Walsh on the second try to help MSU regain the lead.

BSU (3-4-1, 3-1-0 WCHA) took some late penalties that prevented them from getting an extra attacker, but they did pull Walsh with less than two minutes to go. The Mavs were called for a penalty that gave the Beavers a chance to tie it with 40 seconds left.

“It was a tough break to get that penalty,” said BSU defenseman Matt Prapavessis, who had an assist earlier in the game. “But we did a good job battling 5 on 5 to get some chances. Unfortunately they scored and put the game away there. But it was nice to see us get some opportunities in front of the net and make it interesting.”

Teddy Blueger scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal with 10 seconds to go, an empty-netter after the Beavers had pulled Walsh for an extra attacker.

The Beavers didn’t quit, as Sam Rendle scored with 1.4 seconds left, but with just a few ticks left on the clock there was little hope to tie it up.

“We made it interesting,” Serratore said of the final minute. “We had a couple point-blankers and didn’t convert. It didn’t work out. We had some good looks and made some plays there.

“Those kids fight til the bitter end. Good to see that goal, but at the end of the day, we lost that’s just the way it goes.”

MSU scored the game’s first two goals and dominated the play in the first period.

Phil Brewer took an interference penalty early in the first frame and the Mavericks’ potent power play made the Beavers pay.

Zach Stepan scored his first collegiate goal just 4:04 into the game and MSU had what it couldn’t get in Friday’s opener – an early lead.

Later in the frame Brewer nearly tied it up after getting a 2-on-1 opportunity and shooting on a portion of the net MSU goaltender Cole Huggins had left open. Brewer took a shot and lifted his hands in celebration but he missed just wide.

In the second period the Mavs made it 2-0, as Bryce Gervais took a feed from JP Lafontaine and fired it past Walsh from the slot at 7:40.

But the Beavers fought back to tie it before the second intermission.

BSU’s Mitch Cain and the rest of the Beavers’ fourth line helped the Beavers get on the board at 12:03, finishing off a tic-tac-toe play from Bob Kinne and Matt Prapavessis to cut the lead to 2-1 at 12:03.

MSU nearly took another two-goal lead when Jon Jutzi hit two pipes, but when the Mavericks’ Chase Grant went to the penalty box for tripping Sam Rendle, the Beavers took advantage.

Defenseman Graeme McCormack wristed a shot from the blue line that somehow found its way into the net with 18.1 seconds left in the period. Officials briefly reviewed the goal but it stood and the Beavers went into the dressing room with all the momentum. After being outshot 9-4 in the first period the Beavers had a 12-10 advantage in shots in period two.

The teams were even offensively, each getting 31 shots on goal.

Walsh finished the game with 27 saves in the loss while Huggins made 28 saves for the Mavs in the win.

BSU returns to action next week on the road at Ferris State.

Bemidji State 4, Minnesota State 3

Minnesota State 1 1 2 – 4

Bemidji State 0 2 1 – 3

First Period – 1, MSU, Stepan (Gaede, Grant), 4:04, PP. Penalties – BSU, Brewer (Interference), 3:52; BSU, Harms (Tripping), 12:07; BSU, Rendle (High Sticking), 18:21.

Second Period – 2, MSU, Gervais (Lafontaine, Palmquist), 7:40; 3, BSU, Cain (Prapavessis, Kinne), 12:03; 4, BSU, McCormack (Mattson, Pedan), PP, 19:42. Penalties – BSU, Pedan (Tripping), 1:24; MSU, Margonari (Tripping), 1:31; BSU, Robbins (Interference), 16:48; MSU, Grant (Tripping), 19:19.

Third Period – 5, MSU, McInnis (Margonari), 15:08; 6, MSU, Blueger (Unassisted, empty net), 19:50; 7, BSU, Rendle (Hartmann), 19:59. Penalties – MSU, Jutzi (Interference), 15:28; BSU, Gerbrandt; BSU, Brewer (Slashing), 18:24; MSU, Lafontaine (Hooking), 19:20.

Shots on goal: MSU – 9-10-12—31; BSU – 4-12-15—31; Goaltenders (shots-saves): MSU – Huggins (31-28); BSU — Walsh (30-27). Penalties-Minutes: MSU – 4-8; BSU — 7-14. Power Play goals, opportunities: MSU – 1-for-7; BSU — 1-for-3.

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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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