BEMIDJI – For 20 minutes it didn’t look like anyone would score this weekend.
Bemidji State and Western Michigan combined for six penalties and 13 shots on goal in the first period of their nonconference game at the Sanford Center.
Then Chase Balisy opened up the floodgates for Western Michigan, and Bemidji State failed to keep its head above water.
The Broncos capitalized on a power-play opportunity that spanned the first and second periods when Balisy scored just 36 seconds into the second frame.
The nation’s No. 7-ranked team didn’t let up. Western Michigan scored three more goals in the first 10 minutes of the second stanza to defeat Bemidji State 6-0 in front of 2,622 people Friday night.
“It was just a one-sided affair tonight,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “Western Michigan just really took us to the woodshed. It was a tough performance for us but the bottom line is we just have to sweep it under the rug and get ready to play again (Saturday).”
Western Michigan head coach Andy Murray said it all came down to puck control. The Broncos dominated the Beavers, outshooting them 27-15 and giving Bronco goaltender Frank Slubowski a shutout.
“We made good decisions with the puck,” Murray said. “And when you’re making good decisions with the puck you don’t have to play as much defense. But I thought our puck management was very good tonight.”
The trouble for the Beavers (5-11-3) started late in the first period. BSU defenseman Brady Wacker went to the penalty box for an interference penalty with just under a minute to go.
Western (12-5-2) clogged the space in front of BSU goaltender Andrew Walsh and had three shots point-blank as the seconds wound down but couldn’t put the puck past Walsh. Instead, the Beavers cleared and the period ended.
But the crisis wasn’t averted, as Wacker still had 1:05 remaining on his penalty when the period started.
Western capitalized, forcing a turnover after a BSU faceoff win. On a 2-on-1, Balisy and Bronco defenseman Dennis Brown flew by the Beaver defenseman and Balisy beat Walsh easily for the score.
Colton Hargrove made it 2-0 at 3:41, getting another odd-man rush – this time playing five-on-five.
And Mike Leone joined the party a minute after Hargrove, skating in front of Walsh wide open and receiving a feed from Brett Beebe and Luke Witowski behind the net to make it 3-0 at 4:42.
When Dane Walters made it 4-0 at 8:21, it was almost a given – up to that point the Beavers had managed only two shots in the period and had barely retained possession.
“Their team is just so good defensively that once they got that first goal, that second goal, it just allowed those guys to build up their confidence,” Serratore said. “They had a lot of space, they broke out high on us, they had a lot of open rushes. Bottom line is we just didn’t have a lot of jump.”
In contrast to the first period, there were no penalty whistles in the second. BSU finally got another shot on the power play in the third, but squandered it after giving up a turnover late. The Beavers watched as the Broncos had a two-man breakaway and flat-out missed a sure goal with a poor pass.
BSU got lucky there, but seconds after the penalty on Western’s Morrison expired, Hargrove scored his second goal of the game to make it 5-0 and the rout was officially on.
Ben Warda added another goal after stripping the puck at the blue line and skating in uncontested to beat Walsh high stick side at the 10:31 mark.
Despite his team’s one-sided rout, Murray said he knows Bemidji State will come back strong today for the conclusion of the team’s nonconference series. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:07 p.m.
“You know, as soon as the game was over, I went into out dressing room and told our team we can expect we’re going to have to be a lot better tomorrow,” Murray said. “I just love Bemidji’s team. I’ve watched them against Denver and UNH, and they just battle every time.”
Western Michigan 6, Bemidji State 0
Western Michigan 0 4 2 – 6
Bemidji State 0 0 0 – 0
First Period – No Scoring. Penalties – BSU, Prapavessis (Slashing), 4:07; WMU, Warda (Hooking), 6:30; BSU, George (Holding), 8:56; BSU, Kinne (Cross Checking), 11:09; WMU, Miller (Interference), 13:30; BSU, Wacker (Interference), 19:05.
Second Period – 1, WMU, Balisy (Brown), 0:36, PP; 2, WMU, Hargrove 1 (Cichy, DeKeyser), 3:41; 3, WMU, Leone (Beebe, Witowski), 4:42; 4, WMU, Walters (Balisy, Berschbach), 8:21. Penalties – None.
Third Period – 5, WMU, Hargrove 2 (DeKeyser, Leone), 7:51; 6, WMU, Warda (Unassisted), 10:31. Penalties – WMU, Morrison (Tripping), 5:33.
Goalies – WMU, Slubowski (15-15); BSU, Walsh (27-21).
Shots On Goal – WMU (9-11-7-27); BSU (4-7-4-15).
Penalties-Minutes – WMU, 3-6; BSU 4-8.
Power Plays – WMU, 1-for-4; BSU, 0-for-3.