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BSU men's hockey shuts out WCHA's Michigan Tech in first visit

Bemidji State's Matt Francis (17) celebrates his goal against Michigan Tech goalie Rob Nolan (37) in the first period Friday night at John Glas Fieldhouse. Michigan Tech's Bennett Royer (right) trails the play. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Bemidji State made sure that Michigan Tech's first visit ever to the John Glas Fieldhouse wasn't a pleasant one and defeated the Huskies 3-0 Friday night.

BSU sophomore Matt Dalton got the shut out in net for the Beavers, stopping all of Tech's 23 shots on the game. He came up big a handful of times to keep Tech off the board.

The Beavers scored once in each of the three periods and won, in a major way, the special teams battle. Bemidji State held Tech to a 0 for 9 effort on the power play, limiting the Huskies to only five shots when Tech had the man advantage and also scored a power play goal.

Even with the win over a Western Collegiate Hockey Association opponent, nobody was dancing a jig in the Beavers' locker room following the victory.

"It was a very sloppy game from our standpoint," said Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore. "We weren't efficient at all around the red line and blue line. We were very fortunate to come out with a win, considering all our turnovers."

The Beavers had the edge in the first period, getting the game's first goal and winning the special teams battle - killing off a Tech 5 on 3 advantage for nearly two minutes.

Matt Francis got the Beavers on the board first - always a key to the game in the eyes of Serratore. Senior defenseman Cody Bostock spotted Francis coming off the bench on a line change and hit him with a perfect pass in stride at the blue line. Francis zeroed in on Tech goalie Rob Nolan and scored five-hole at the 6:18 mark.

"When you are offensively challenged like we have been this year it's a breath of fresh air to get that first goal," Serratore reported. "I thought Francis was our best player (Friday)."

Special teams took over for the Beavers the rest of the first period. The Beavers held Tech without a shot on the first power play opportunity of the game. Then BSU was whistled for a pair of penalties 12 seconds apart late in the period. The Beavers were able to kill the Huskies two man advantage, limiting Tech to a single shot.

It was the turning point of the game, according to Michigan Tech head coach Jamie Russell. "We thought we had been carrying the play and then couldn't generate any scoring chances on the 5 on 3," he said. "On the bench you could feel the team letdown after that."

It was more of the same in the second period as the Beavers scored again and then played strong defensively to keep Michigan Tech scoreless.

Sophomore Matt Read put the Beavers ahead 2-0 with a "sniper-type" goal at 3:39. Read rushed the puck up ice on a Beaver 2 on1. Read kept the puck, cut across the ice and whistled a wrister top shelf from point blank range.

"That was a big time skill goal for Read," Serratore reported

Bemidji State got its first power play of the night shortly after the goal but, despite strong puck movement, couldn't score.

Dalton had a big save for the Beavers in the waning moments of the period as Tech mounted a great chance while on the power play. Dalton came up with a big sliding save with just seconds left.

"Dalton earned that shut out," Serratore reported. "He was very solid and came up with the big save when we needed it. It was a nice win for him."

The third period followed the same script with the Beavers scoring and holding off Tech with strong penalty kill efforts. The Beavers were whistled for three penalties over an eight minute span of the final period and were able to kill them all, limiting Tech to just two shots.

Tech took a pair of penalties in the last three minutes of the game, all but ending any hope for a victory. The Beavers iced the game, scoring on the power play with 35 seconds remaining as freshman Jamie MacQueen got his first collegiate goal, tipping a great pass from Brandon Marino past Nolan.

"Give Bemidji State credit," Russell said, "they limited our scoring chances and converted when they had their opportunities."

The game followed a frustrating script that the Huskies have seen all season, out-shooting their opponent but coming up short on the scoreboard. "We've been having trouble finishing for sure," said Russell. "It got to the point (Friday} where I think some of the guys were gripping the stick a little tight."

Tech held a 23-19 shot advantage for the game.

Serratore said the Beavers would take the win, but it's also evident there's still work to be done. "We just didn't have a lot of loose puck intensity," he said. "But, a win is a win. It's also evident there's room for improvement."

The two teams conclude the series tonight in a 7:05 start at The Glas.