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Bemidji State’s Jeff Jubinville looks for a shot around Minnesota State’s Brett Stern (27), goalie Cole Huggins and Brett Knowles (24) during the first period Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato. Pat Christman | Mankato Free Press

MEN'S HOCKEY: Power play prowess leads MSU past BSU

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MANKATO — Once again, special teams proved the difference for the BSU men’s hockey team.

The Beavers allowed two Minnesota State goals on a long five-minute-major penalty early in the second period, then failed to score on nearly seven minutes of power play time later in the frame, and MSU held on for a 3-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association game Saturday night at Mankato’s Verizon Wireless Center.

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After BSU freshman forward Charlie O’Connor tied it up for a shorthanded goal just 1 minute, 50 seconds into the final frame, MSU’s Sean Flanagan scored the game-winner midway through the third .

The Mavericks (17-13-0, 15-7-0) completed the series sweep after winning 5-2 Friday night.

O’Connor and Graeme McCormack both scored for the Beavers (8-15-7, 8-10-4 WCHA), who outshot the Mavericks 29-25 but were held to 0-for-4 on the power play.

That included an extended (nearly eight minutes long) man advantage at the midway through the second period that saw MSU’s Carter Foguth get whistled for a five-minute major and game misconduct penalty after boarding Markus Gerbrandt at the 11:35 mark.

A previous penalty on MSU, plus one that occurred near the end of Foguth’s long penalty, meant that BSU had nearly eight minutes of power play time to work with. That included about a minute of 5-on-3.

The Mavericks, however, didn’t let BSU do much of anything on the man-advantage and went into the locker room up 3-2.

MSU scored twice earlier in the second after Ruslan Pedan was ejected for a five-minute-major checking-from-behind penalty.

Johnny McInnes scored the equalizer at the 3:38 mark of the middle frame, with assists by JP LaFontaine and Matt Leitner.

Less than two minutes later, that same combination of players again found the back of the net. LaFontaine scored on BSU goaltender Jesse Wilkins, assisted by McInnes and Leitner.

In all MSU went 2-for-5 on the power play and held BSU scoreless.

Wilkins took the loss and made 22 saves in defeat while MSU’s Cole Huggins stopped 27 shots.

The Beavers return to the Sanford Center next weekend to host league-leading Ferris State.

BSU and Alaska-Fairbanks are currently tied for sixth in the league standings. Each team has 20 points. Northern Michigan (18 points) is holding onto the eighth playoff spot ahead of Lake Superior State, who has 17 points.

Minnesota State 3, Bemidji State 2 BSU 1 0 1 — 2

MSU 0 2 1 — 3

First Period — 1, BSU, McCormack (Harms, Illo), 12:14. Penalties — BSU, Ward (Hooking), 0:32; MSU, Blueger (Cross Checking), 7:46; MSU, Knowles (Slashing), 13:21; MSU, Foguth (Boarding), 15:09; BSU, Ward (Tripping), 15:11.

Second Period — 2, MSU, McInnis (LaFontaine, Leitner), 3:38, PP; 3, MSU, LaFontaine (McInnes, Leitner), 5:20. Penalties — BSU, Pedan (Checking From Behind), 3:25; BSU, Pedan (Game Misconduct), 3:25; MSU, Stern (Holding), 10:42, MSU, Foguth (Boarding), 11:35; MSU, Foguth (Game Misconduct), 11:35; MSU, Grant (Roughing), 16:04.

Third Period — 4, BSU, O’Connor (Unassisted), 1:50, SH; 5, MSU, Flanagan (Lehrke, Jutzi), 9:07. Penalties — BSU, Rendle (Slashing), 1:12; BSU, Arentz (Tripping), 11:20; MSU, Palmquist (Holding), 13:44.

Shots On Goal — BSU, 12-18-9—29; MSU, 8-8-9—25. Goalies (Shots-Saves) — BSU, Wilkins (25-22); MSU, Huggins (29-27). Penalties-Minutes — BSU, 6-23; MSU, 8-27. Power Plays-Opportunities — BSU, 0-for-4; MSU, 2-for-6.

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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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