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Special teams, defense shine in Beaver victory

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sports Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

After going 85 minutes over two games without scoring, the Bemidji State men's hockey special teams took over Sunday - connecting for three goals in a 3-0 victory over Western Michigan in Kalamazoo, Mich.

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It's a college hockey mantra that whoever wins the special teams battle will usually win the game. That certainly proved to be true as the BSU power play - which had been struggling - connected for three goals on six opportunities. The Beavers (14-4-2) generated 16 of their 30 shots for the game during those power play s.

At the same time the BSU penalty kill was just as strong, shutting out the Broncos (6-10-4) on five power play chances. WMU was 0 for 8 on the power play for the series.

"Our power play got back on track. It turned out to be a key to the game," said Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore.

After skating through regulation and a five minute overtime period the night before with neither team scoring, BSU and WMU posted another zero in the first period Sunday.

The Beavers, however, wasted little time getting on the board in the second.

Skating with the man advantage for the first 43 seconds of the period, BSU junior forward Ian Lowe jumped on a rebound off a shot from defender Brad Hunt and scored at the 35 second mark. It turned out to be the game winner.

"It was a big goal for us," said Serratore. "Our power play had been stale. When you score like that right away it builds confidence and is a real boost, since it is so hard to score 5 on 5 in college hockey."

But the Beavers weren't done. BSU appeared to take a two goal lead near the 5:00 mark of the second, but the apparent goal was waved off after a review showed it was kicked in by BSU's Ryan Cramer.

No matter. The Beavers officially made it 2-0 about four minutes later as Ben Kinne deflected a pass from Matt Read past WMU goalie Jerry Kuhn at 9:53 for another power play goal.

Kinne got his second of the day and concluded the scoring at 11:01 of the third, again on the power play. Once again he teamed up with Read and Hunt to get his sixth goal of the year.

The BSU defense stood tall the rest of the way to keep the Broncos off the board and secure its second shut out in as many nights.

BSU goalie Dan Bakala was once again stellar in net, stopping all 26 of the shots he faced to record his third career shut out. Bakala was perfect on the weekend, stopping all 57 shots he faced in the series.

"(Bakala) was very good all weekend," said Serratore. "Overall, our guys have been very good defensively all year. They take pride in playing defense - that's the reason we have 14 wins."

The Beavers wasted little time in hitting the road for home after the game, facing a long bus trip. "Any time you get three of four points on the road you have to be pleased," Serratore reported. "The 14 hour bus trip home is going to be an enjoyable ride."

The Beavers now have a weekend off before returning to action Jan. 15-16 at Niagara for a College Hockey America battle.

E The 0-0 overtime tie Saturday was the first in the 54 year history of the Bemidji State men's hockey program.

- The 31 saves Bakala made Saturday equaled a career high.

He has not allowed a goal in 128:56 over his last three games.

- Following Sunday's game, Bakala has a 1.71 goals against average (3rd nationally), a .937 save percentage (4th nationally) and a record of 11-2-2 (.800, third in the nation).

- The Beavers defense has allowed just 36 goals in 20 games for an average of 1.80 per game.

That's second nationally, trailing only Miami (34 goals in 20 games - 1.70).

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