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BSU men's hockey: Hextall's overtime goal sinks Beavers

UND's Chris VandeVelde (29) scores on BSU goalie Orlando Alamano (35) in the first period Saturday in Grand Forks. Forum Communications Co. Photo/ Grand Forks Herald John Stennes

A power play goal by freshman Brett Hextall just 31 seconds into overtime gave the University of North Dakota a 4-3 win over Bemidji State Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Hextall took a shot from the low slot that appeared to deflect off someone or something into the net past BSU goaltender Orlando Alamano.

It was a tough loss for the Beavers who fought back from a 3-2 deficit in the third period to tie the game and send it into overtime.

"I don't now what to say right now ... it's a devastating loss," said Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore. "We played a wonderful third period and fought our way back into the game. It was a very hard way to lose."

UND scored a pair of power play goals and one shorthanded to dominate the special teams battle. North Dakota also held a 40-20 shot advantage for the game.

But, once again, the Beavers were right there at the end with a chance to win. And also, once again, BSU came up just a little short.

"I'm very proud of the way the guys played," Serratore said. "What else can I say?"

Alamano made his first start in weeks, initially sidelined with an injury and then on the bench as fellow goaltender Matt Dalton had a hot hand. Alamano played very well and kept the Beavers in the game, making 36 stops.

Bemidji State followed Serratore's keys to the game ... and more. The Beavers not only scored the first goal of the game, but the first two.

BSU freshman defender Brad Hunt cashed in on a blast from the point just 27 seconds into the game. Hunt's shot deflected off UND's Evan Trupp who had gone to the ice to block the shot. The deflection fooled UND goalie Brad Eidsness and the puck went over his right shoulder into the net.

BSU made it 2-0 a little less than five minutes later. Sophomore Matt Read got off as shot in traffic just off the crease. The rebound went out to senior Matt Francis who scored on a wrister short side at 5:07.

North Dakota closed to 2-1 with a power play goal at 6:54. Brad Miller took a shot from the high slot that was tipped by Chris VandeVelde past Alamano.

The Beavers special teams took over later in the period as BSU killed a UND 5 on 3 advantage for 1:24. Alamano made a huge stop at the end of the penalty kill, making a sprawling glove save to stop Jason Gregoire from point blank range.

UND held a big 17-6 shot advantage for the period.

UND tied the game at the 14:28 mark of the second period on a disputed goal. VandeVelde tipped a shot in front for his second goal of the night, but it was immediately waved off by referee Don Klosowski. Video replay revealed VandeVelde threw out his leg and pointed his skate toward the goal. But the puck actually deflected off the shaft of VandeVelde's stick into the net short side. The goal was then allowed.

That was the only scoring in the period as UND spent a great deal of time in the BSU defensive zone and generated a huge 14-4 shot advantage.

Still, the Beavers had a couple great opportunities to score. The first came on a 2 on 1 rush where Travis Winter hit Brandon Marino with a pass in front. Marino deflected the pass, but Eidsness made a huge save. The second came at the end of the period with the Beavers on the power play. Francis had two chances from in close that were both stopped by Eidsness.

"I thought that second period set us back a bit," Serratore reported. "But we responded with our best period of the night in the third.

The third period held a great deal of drama. UND appeared to take the lead about eight minutes in. However, this time the replay review went in favor of the Beavers. The replay showed UND defender Chay Genoway was in the crease at the time of the goal and interfered with Alamano.

Just a couple minutes later UND took the lead for real, scoring off a 3 on 2 break while shorthanded. Jason Gregoire scored the go-ahead goal at 9:55.

The Beavers dug deep and answered on the same penalty, scoring a power play goal at 10:44 to make it 3-3. BSU defender Chris Peluso threw a wrist shot toward the net that was expertly tipped by Tyler Scofield just under the cross bar at 10:44.

The Beavers continued to apply pressure down the stretch and carried the play for several minutes. But with less than a minute left, Hunt was whistled for a checking from behind penalty that proved costly. The Beavers successfully killed the penalty in regulation, but couldn't continue into the overtime period.

The result was a hard luck loss for the Beavers who fell to 8-10 on the year. UND improved to 11-10-1.

The Beavers will now take a week off before returning to action Jan. 16-17 at Minnesota-Duluth. UND hosts Minnesota next weekend in a key WCHA match up.