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BSU men's hockey sweeps Manitoba

Bemidji State men's hockey coach Tom Serratore warned the University of Manitoba Bison would be a much improved team Saturday, compared to the Friday opener that the Beavers won 7-0.

Serratore was prophetic as the Beavers skated to a hard fought 4-2 victory to sweep the visiting Bison at The Glas.

It was a complete turnaround for Manitoba as the visitors played with intensity the entire night. By midway through the second period they had equaled their shot total from the night before.

"They were a lot better team tonight," Serratore reported. "We didn't respond with the intensity I would have liked, but we found a way to win - that's the bottom line. Manitoba has a big, strong team with some savvy; they played with a lot of passion (Saturday)."

The eventual game winner was the type of fluky that is seldom seen.

While on the penalty kill, BSU sophomore sensation Matt Read slowly iced the puck and head for the bench on a shift change. Manitoba goalie Steve Christie stopped the puck initially, but then kicked it into his own net as he turned to make a pass.

BSU freshman Ben Kinne then put the game out of reach when he scored a power play goal on a rebound off a shot from Tyler Scofield with just less than four minutes remaining.

After Scofield put the Beavers ahead 2-1 at 2:15 of the third on a power play goal the Beavers proceeded to send a steady stream of players to the penalty box. They were whistled for five straight penalties that eventually led to a 5 on 3 advantage for Manitoba at on which the visitor's converted. Stewart Thiessen tied the game at 2-2 with a rocket past BSU goalie Dan Bakala.

That's was to be it for night for the Bison, however.

Serratore wasn't too pleased with the number of penalties the Beavers took in the final period. "We've got to realize what we can get away with and what we can't," he said. "We have to play with intensity and be physical, but have to know how to harness it as well. It's a learning process."

Manitoba came out right away and made a statement, scoring the game's first goal at 10:20 of the opening period. Rick Wood gathered in a rebound off the back boards and scored to give the visitor's a 1-0 lead.

Read then tied things up when he controlled a rebound off a shot from defenseman Brad Hunt that whistled past the net, hit the back boards and deflected in front. Read was one the spot and flipped the puck past Christie.

After a scoreless second period, the unfortunate own goal from Christie all but sealed the fate of the Bison on the night.

BSU ended with a 29-20 shots on goal advantage as Dan Bakala won from the second straight night in net for the Beavers.

Next up for the Beavers is a grueling four game road trip against two top College Hockey America rivals. Next weekend the Beavers travel south to play Alabama-Huntsville, a much improved team this year.

"People are talking about how greatly improved Huntsville," Serratore reported. "This is the second year with their new coach Danton Cole and the players are a year older. We're going into a hornet's nest."

It doesn't get any easier after that. Following a week off the Beavers head back on the road to face Niagara - always a tough opponent for BSU.

"Hopefully, these first eight games have prepared us for the start of the conference season," Serratore said. "We'll be jumping into the fire big time these next two series."