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BSU men's hockey tops St. Cloud State in home opener for first win of the season

Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren St. Cloud State's Garrett Raboin loses control of the puck as Bemidji State's Chris McKelvie defends during the second period of Friday night's game at John Glas Fieldhouse. The Beavers snapped a four-game losing streak with Friday night's win.

Remember all the questions that faced the Bemidji State men's hockey team after an 0-4 start? Well, they've been answered.

The Beavers put on a fine display of big time hockey Friday at The Glas, topping nationally ranked St. Cloud State 4-2.

Bemidji State never trailed in the game while recording a victory over the Huskies for the first time since Dec. 6, 1986.

It was a game that had everything - fast paced action, physical play, great goaltending and an edge of your seat 5-on-3 penalty kill with the game still on the line.

"Now that was Beaver hockey," said Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore. "The intensity level was high and we played with a ton of desperation. We played pretty darn good the first 50 minutes. The last 10 minutes we were pretty fatigued, but we packed it in well and didn't allow any great scoring chances."

For the first time this season the Beavers were able to play with a lead and then made it stick. After a scoreless first period, the Beavers scored twice in the first seven minutes of the second. St. Cloud came back to make it 2-1 late in the second, but the Beavers didn't wilt and came charging back in the wild third period.

BSU made it 4-1 with an empty net goal with 21 seconds remaining to ice things. The Huskies scored a meaningless goal with three seconds left to make the final 4-2.

BSU sophomore goaltender Matt Dalton had a fine night in net, stopping 33 of 35 St. Cloud shots to get his first win of the season.

"Dalton is one heck of a goaltender," Serratore said. "The last five or six minutes they had a lot of second chances and he came up big. I'm proud of him."

The second period provided the Beavers the break they needed as they scored a couple of goals to take the lead for the first time this year. After skating off 49 seconds of a carryover penalty, the Beavers struck quickly. Senior Travis Winter picked up a loose puck in the high slot and zipped a wrister that hit St. Cloud goalie Dan Dunn and trickled into the net at the 59-second mark.

Just less than six minutes later, the Beavers struck again - this time on the power play. Tyler Scofield found sophomore Matt Read alone near the far hash mark and Read connected past Dunn for a 2-0 BSU lead.

"You hear me say it all the time but getting the first goal is always huge," Serratore reported, "especially against a team the caliber of St. Cloud. Those two goals rejuvenated the team."

A skirmish broke out at the 11-minute mark as the Huskies showed some frustration. St. Cloud freshman defender Oliver Lauridsen took exception to a hit on a teammate along the boards. The 6-foot-6 Dane jumped the Beavers Darcy Findlay and a mild dust up ensued.

By the time the dust settled, six penalties were called. The teams remained 5 on 5, however.

St. Cloud cut the lead to 2-1 with 32 second remaining in the second as Mitch Ryan scored from just off the crease with an assist from Tony Mosey.

The Beavers refused to cave, however, and came right back in the third to regain the two goal lead with another power play tally. With St. Cloud premier player Garrett Roe off on a tripping penalty, the Beavers special teams executed. Senior Brandon Marino broke for the net and defender Chris Peluso sent a low pass in front. Marino tipped the puck through a crowd and past Dun for a 3-1 lead at the 3:24 mark.

The drama was far from over, however.

Bemidji State took three penalties within a span of 1:22 near the mid-point of the period. This led to a 5 on 3 St. Cloud advantage for more than two and a half minutes.

The Beavers dug deep and held off the St. Cloud onslaught.

Coupled with some stellar saves from Dalton, the huge penalty kill preserved the two goal lead.

Beaver freshman Ben Kinne connected for an empty net goal with 21 seconds left to put the game out of reach. St. Cloud's Jordy Christian concluded the scoring with three seconds left, but it was too little too late for the Huskies.

"It's a good feeling" Serratore said of the win. "It shows what these guys are capable of doing. I'm proud of their effort; they showed a lot of character."

While being out-shot 35-21, the Beavers won the special teams battle in a major way. St. Cloud was held to an 0-8 effort on the power play, while the Beavers were 2 for 5.

"Special teams were a key," said St. Cloud head coach Bob Motzko. "You're not going to win many games going 0 for 8 on the power play and then giving up a couple of power play goals. We also turned over the puck an enormous amount. We're going to have to learn how to play in tight games."

Serratore said the Beavers would enjoy the big win for a few hours and then put it behind them.

"We better be ready because we're going to be facing a very angry St. Cloud team (tonight)," he said.