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UND’s Mark MacMillan (16) and BSU's Jeff Jubinville (12) battle for a loose puck in front of BSU goalie Andrew Walsh in non-conference hockey action Saturday night in Grand Forks. JOHN STENNES | GRAND FORKS HERALD

UND dominates first period, tops BSU 4-2

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The BSU men’s hockey team knew North Dakota’s scoring depth would be a major factor in this weekend’s nonconference series.

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And although Andrew Walsh’s 42-save performance in Friday’s opener (a 1-1 tie) negated any offensive threats UND might have had, on Saturday night that depth was on display.

UND scored two goals apiece in the first and second periods — including two goals from its grind-line — and despite a furious BSU comeback attempt in the third period, held on for a 4-2 victory Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

“You want to play better,”  BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “This time of year you wanna try and get better every game. We came in here optimistic after tying last nigh. You wanna come into this building and respond. I thought there were some bright spots but at the end of the day we lost.”

UND (12-7-3) played a similarly dominating first period Saturday night — outshooting BSU 15-4 in the period — but this time around had two goals to show for the dominance as opposed to none on Friday.

“I think we defended pretty well,” said BSU defenseman Matt Prapavessis, who had six blocked shots in the loss. “We were able to keep them to the outside for the most part and didn’t let them penetrate, which was nice. But a couple breakdowns defensively kind of changed the game pretty quickly.”

Brendan Harms took a penalty just seconds into the game that gave UND a power play in which it had shot attempts (four of which were blocked by Prapavessis).

BSU (7-12-7) killed the penalty but UND didn’t let up and, unlike Friday’s game where it was obviously the better team in the first period with nothing to show for it, gave itself an early cushion.

UND’s Connor Gaarder and Andrew Panzarella scored within a minute of one another to give UND a two-goal lead.

But if the Beavers seemed rattled by the quick start, Cory Ward didn’t show it.

The sophomore from Las Vegas scored his second goal of the weekend with incredible awareness when he jumped and grabbed a puck flying over his head at the UND blue line. He set it in front of him, skated to the circle to the left of Zane Gothberg and potted one top-shelf.

Ward, who scored BSU's only goal in last night's 1-1 tie, now has five points (3g, 2a) against UND in five games played. He leads the WCHA with 14 goals.

UND coach Dave Hakstol was impressed by Ward.

"Ward’s a good player,"  Hakstol said. "He has a great release. Both he scored against us were great goals.

"(Bemidji State) as a lot of good players on that team. It was a battle tonight right down to the wire and that’s what we expected it to be."

In the second period UND once again scored two quick goals — one by Derek Rodwell less than two minutes into the stanza and another a filthy wraparound by Michael Parks — that left BSU playing catch-up for the rest of the period.

The Beavers finally got their best chance of the game when Stephane Pattyn went to the sin bin for hooking more  than halfway into the game.

After a pass from Prapavessis, Ruslan Pedan took a shot from the point and UND’s Gothberg made the initial save on the puck but couldn’t corral it. The puck landed in the crease and Markus Gerbrandt was there to clean up the sloppy rebound and pull BSU back to within two goals.

UND’S Dillon Simpson took a holding the stick penalty on the goal, which gave BSU an opportunity to get back to within one, but aside from a golden Radoslav Illo chance at the end of the man-advantage, there wasn’t much there the second time around.

"It was nice, but it would have been better if we could have answered back," Serratore said. "That's what we were hoping for. We just had a hard time up-ice. They bottled us into thew zone a little bit and we had a hard time having any continuity up ice (in the second period)."

In the third period UND outshot BSU 9-3 but the Beavers had a great opportunity to get one back when Drake Caggiula went to the penalty box for an elbow with just more than four minutes to go in the game.

Ward had three premium chances in the power play — one of which was blocked by UND’s Dillon, one of which he whiffed on and a third went above the head of Gothberg that Phil Brewer couldn’t redirect in.

BSU pulled Walsh shortly after the penalty ended and UND’s Paul LaDue hit the post on the goal before the Beavers had one last gasp with 30 seconds to go.

Walsh finsihed the game with 29 saves while Gothberg made 15.

"It’s always fun to come and play in the series like this," Prapavessis said. "It's disappointing we weren’t able to get the point tonight. Last night at home was a blast. Now we’ve just got to keep the momentum into league play."

The Beavers return to the ice next weekend for a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series at Alaska-Fairbanks.

NOTE: Much like Friday's game in Bemidji, BSU fans did make the trip down U.S. Highway 2 to watch the game, although in seemingly lesser numbers. They were especially vocal after Gerbrandt scored on the power play, with a few scattered "Let's Go Beavers" cheers during the second BSU power play.

Prapavessis said he didn't notice specific fans in the stands but heard a few of the chants.

"It was hard to tell tell if they’re Beavers... they’re all wearing green, so they all looked like Beaver fans to us," he said with a laugh. "But we kinda tried to feed off that environment  tonight even though it was mostly hostile."

North Dakota 4, Bemidji State 2

BSU    1   1   0 — 2

UND    2   2   0 — 4

First Period — 1, UND, Gaarder (Pattyn, Stecher), 6:27; 2, UND, Panzarella (MacMillan, Schmaltz), 7:22; 3, BSU, Ward (Unassisted), 12:37. Penalties — BSU, Harms  (Holding), 0:29.

Second Period — 4,UND, Rodwell, (LaDue), 1:13; 5, UND, Parks (MacMillan, Mattson), 6:58; 6, BSU, Gerbrandt (Pedan, Prapavessis), 13:09, PP. Penalties — UND, Stecher (Cross Checking), 5:16; BSU, Pedan (Slashing), 5:31; BSU, Pedan (High Sticking), 9:30; UND, Pattyn (Hooking), 12:24; UND, Simpson (Holding the Stick), 13:09; BSU, Brewer (Hooking), 15:47; UND, Pattyn (Roughing), 18:05; BSU, Prapavessis (Roughing),18:05.

Third Period — No Scoring.  Penalties — BSU, Harms (Slashing), 11:34; UND, Caggiula (Elbowing), 15:49.

Shots On Goal — BSU, 4-10-3—17; UND, 15-9-9—33. Goalies (Shots-Saves), BSU, Walsh (33-29); UND, Gothberg (17-15). Penalties-Minutes — BSU, 6-12; UND, 5-10. Power Plays-Opportunities — BSU, 1-for-4; UND, 0-for-5. Faceoffs — UND 39-29.

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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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