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BSU’s Nate Arentz moves the puck up ice in front of Northern Michigan’s Luke Eibler during the second period of Friday’s game. Earlier in the game Arentz scored BSU’s only goal. BSU Photo Services

Men's hockey: Northern Michigan tops Beavers 4-1

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BEMIDJI — Twenty-four seconds and a poor second period made all the difference for the BSU men’s hockey team.

Northern Michigan scored twice in that span — part of a three-goal second period — to defeat Bemidji State 4-1 Friday night at the Sanford Center.

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“The second period we just didn’t have it,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “They really came into their own and we were just doing a lot of chasing.”

The Wildcats (7-10-2, 5-5-1 WCHA) extended the Beavers’ winless streak to seven while at the same time snapping their own six-game skid. BSU (5-9-5, 5-5-4) now has 14 points and is tied for fourth place with Lake Superior State. NMU has 11 points. The finale is tonight at 7:07 p.m.

“You look at the shots, that game could have gone either way, no question,” Northern Michigan head coach Walt Kyle said, noting that the shots were an even 29-29. “We were fortunate to get the win.”

With the two teams tied 1-1 in the second period, a holding penalty on BSU defenseman James Hansen at the 7 minute, 3 second mark of the period started BSU’s downward spiral.

The penalty box door had barely closed before the Wildcats took the lead.

Shane Sooth redirected a puck past BSU goaltender Jesse Wilkins and it went off the post, off Wilkins’ skate and into the goal just seven seconds into the penalty.

The Beavers didn’t have much time to process the first goal when NMU struck again.

The Wildcats won the faceoff at center ice and 16 seconds later took a two-goal lead after catching the Beavers off-guard on an odd-man rush.

Cohen Adair’s initial shot bounced off the end boards and landed on Wilkins’ left side. Sami Salminen was right there and Wilkins didn’t even have time to slide over to make the stop.

“Those were tough to give up bang-bang like that,” BSU defenseman Matt Prapavessis said. “A power play goal and then a strange bounce off the end board like that.”

The second goal also prompted a quick hook from Serratore, as Andrew Walsh was climbing over the boards almost immediately after the goal light turned on.

Serratore said he didn’t think Wilkins let in any bad goals but was looking to inspire the team with the change.

“I wanted to give our guys a shot in the arm,” Serratore said. “There’s nothing Wilksie could have done right there. The puck landed right in Salminen’s stick.”

The Beavers had led the entire first period thanks to an early goal from center Nate Arentz.

The freshman from Lakeville scored on his first shift since an Oct. 25 injury when he got a feed from sophomore defenseman Graeme McCormack and fired it at NMU goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom from an odd angle — nearly even with him. The puck found its way past the Swedish netminder and inside the post for the score.

BSU outshot the Wildcats 10-7 in the first frame but couldn’t take advantage of its two power play chances or multiple scoring chances, keeping the score 1-0.

The Wildcats took advantage of BSU’s inability to score. Darren Nowick tied the game less than two minutes into the middle frame and, after taking the lead in those 24 seconds, NMU controlled play for the majority of the period.

“We’ve been mentally fragile this season,” Kyle said. “This was an important game for us. We finally got our feet under us in the second. We got that early goal and that was real important for us to get our motor going.”

Walsh made some nifty saves to keep it 3-1, highlighted by a string of superhuman stops on a late NMU power play.

But BSU’s inability to clear the puck resulted in some long shifts, and, eventually, a third-period NMU power play goal from Reed Sekel that all but sealed BSU’s fate.

“Our clears weren’t very good. They hemmed us in,” Serratore said. “Give all the credit to them, they played with a lot of intensity and had good puck possession.”

Dahlstrom made 29 saves for NMU, including two at the end of the second period that preserved NMU’s two-goal lead. Walsh made 15 saves in relief of Wilkins, who stopped 10 shots before going to the bench. Serratore said he plans on starting Walsh in tonight’s rematch. He wasn’t disappointed in the play of freshman Wilkins but didn’t like how the defense played in the loss.

“We were very erratic defensively,” Serratore said. “We have to identify our men better down low. We gave up too many point shots and didn’t block enough shots. We have to commit a little harder to playing defense.”

Northern Michigan 4, Bemidji State 1

NMU 0 3 1 — 4

BSU 1 0 0 — 1

First Period — 1, BSU, Arentz (McCormack), 2:51. Penalties — NMU, Sekel (Charging), 4:11; NMU, Daugherty (Elbowing), 7:54.

Second Period — 2, NMU, Nowick (Daugherty, Vigier), 1:34; 3, NMU, Sooth (Vigier, Maschmeyer), 7:11, PP; 4, NMU, Salminen (Adair, Eibler), 7:27. Penalties — BSU, Cain (Hitting From Behind), 1:59; BSU, Hansen (Holding), 7:03; BSU, Hansen (Holding the Stick), 16:29.

Third Period — 5, NMU, Sekel (Siemer, Nowick), 10:15, PP. Penalties — NMU, Trenz (Slashing), 6:38; BSU, Windle (High Sticking), 8:59; BSU, Mattson (Goaltender Interference), 18:26.

Shots On Goal: NMU—7-13-9—29; BSU—10-9-10—29. Goalies (Shots-Saves): NMU, Dahlstrom (29-28); BSU, Wilkins (13-10, 27:27); Walsh (16-15, 32:33). Penalties-Minutes: NMU, 3-6; BSU, 5-10. Power Plays (Goals-Opportunities): NMU, 2-for-5; BSU, 0-for-3. Faceoffs: BSU 40-23 Three Stars: 1-Nowick, NMU; 2-Sooth, NMU; 3-Arentz, BSU.

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. 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.
(218) 333-9772
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