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Bemidji State’s Sam Rendle (20) misses a scoring opportunity as teammate Matt Robbins (17) tries to stuff it in during the second period Saturday night against Lake Superior State. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

MEN’S HOCKEY: Overtime victory

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BEMIDJI -- Cory Ward's game-winning goal just a minute into the overtime period gave Bemidji State a much-needed split with Lake Superior State Saturday night.

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The Beavers beat the Lakers 2-1 in front of 2,186 fans at the Sanford Center.

"We would have been happy with the one point since it was such a hard-fought series and they're such a tough team to play against," BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. "But the two points, we needed it. And the guys got rewarded for playing 61 minutes of great hockey."

The win gives BSU (5-7-2, 5-4-1 WCHA) the split after the Lakers (7-4-1, 3-3-0) won 3-2 Friday night. It's BSU's first-ever overtime win in the Sanford Center and their first OT victory since Nov. 4, 2011 -- also against Lake Superior State.

Ward, who had missed two previous breakaway chances in the game, didn't miss on an odd-man rush chance in the extra frame.

An outlet pass from Graeme McCormack to Brendan Harms resulted in an odd-man rush for the Beavers.

Harms fed it to Ward, who beat LSSU goaltender Kevin Kapalka top shelf to give BSU two points.

"He's a very good goalie," Ward said Kapalka, who made 28 saves in the loss. "We don't watch video of goalies very often but we did this week for him.

"I mean, it sucked to have two breakaways earlier in the game and not score but I had a feeling in the overtime we deserved to win so regardless if it was me or anyone else, it was a good overtime period by us."

“It was a great play in overtime and a great shot by Wardo,” Serratore added. “It was a good feeling. We needed those two some of those third period where we’ve losts the leads this year, it kind of makes up for that a little bit..”

The teams went into the overtime period tied but both teams nearly scored in the final five minutes of regulation.

The third frame saw penalties on both teams -- one on Lake State's Bryce Schmitt and one on Ward -- which meant both teams had a power play opportunity in the final five minutes.

Neither team scored but the Lakers came closest when Dan Radke hit the crossbar just as time expired on Ward's penalty.

Ward answered on the other end, getting a breakaway few seconds later, but Kapalka made a pad save to preserve the tie.

Kevin Czuczman and Radoslav Illo scored in the second period to tie it up at 1-1 going into the third.

Czuczman gave the Lakers the initial 1-0 lead, scoring with just more than five minutes to go in the second period.

But like they have multiple times this season after conceding the first goal, the Beavers had an answer.

Illo scored in motion from the slot with 41.1 seconds to go to get the equalizer.

“That goaltender’s really good,” Serrartore said of Kapalka. “He’s got good size, he’s athletic, he controls his rebounds. Rado beat him low-glove and Wardo went under the bar. To beat that kid you needed two goals like that... two goals from our shooters.”

What followed was an intense final 40 seconds that featured two attacks by each team and a last-grasp shot by Ward that Kapalka flicked away as time expired. However, the teams went into the dressing room at 1-1.

In the first period, Lake State's slow, defensive pace won out despite power play opportunities for each team.

The Beavers got three -- thanks in part to two slashing penalties on Czuczman -- but never capitalized on any of them.

Bemidji State's Andrew Walsh got the win and made 25 saves for Bemidji State, who failed to score on the power play after scoring two special teams goals on Friday.

Still, Ward thinks this is one of the Beavers’ best overall games this season.

“We worked hard this game,” he said. “It might be the hardest we worked all season as a whole this year. I felt like we deserved the win. To do it in overtime like that, it just feels that much better.

The win gives BSU 11 points on the season and moves them into second place in the conference; Lake State is tied for sixth with six points.

The Beavers host ranked Miami in a nonconference series next weekend.

Bemidji State 2, Lake Superior State 1, OT

LSSU      0    1    0   0 -- 1

BSU        0    1   0    1 -- 2

First Period -- No Scoring. Penalties -- LSSU, Czuczman (Slashing), 3:47; LSSU, Perrault (Interference), 8:35; BSU, Pedan (Hooking), 12:13; LSSU, Czuczman (Slashing), 18:58.

Second Period -- 1, LSSU, Czuczman (Drapluk, Ciotti), 14:52; 2, BSU, Illo (Prapavessis), 19:19. Penalties -- BSU, Hansen (Holding), 7:06.

Third Period -- No Scoring. Penalties -- LSSU, Ciotti (Slashing), 4:15; LSSU; Schmitt (Tripping), 15:04; BSU, Ward (Cross-Checking), 16:02.

Overtime -- 3, BSU, Ward (Harms, McCormack), 1:00. Penalties -- None.

Shots on goal: LSSU – 5-10-11-0—26; BSU – 12-9-7-2—30; Goaltenders (shots-saves): LSSU – Kapalka (30-28); BSU — Walsh (26-25). Penalties-Minutes: LSSU – 5-10; BSU — 3-6. Power Play goals, opportunities: LSSU – 0-for-3; BSU — 0-for-5. Three stars: 1-Ward, BSU; 2-Illo, BSU; 3-Czuczman, LSSU.

 
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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.
(218) 333-9772
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