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Bemidji State men's hockey: Oleksuk's OT goal lifts No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth over Beavers

Bemidji State's Matt Read beats Minnesota-Duluth goalie Aaron Crandall to score BSU's first goal of the game during the first period Friday night at the BREC. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji State men's hockey team battled back from an early deficit, but couldn't find a way to finish off the Bulldogs in an overtime thriller Friday night at the Bemidji Regional Event Center.

Instead, it was UMD's Travis Oleksuk who delivered the knockout punch.

The Bulldog junior redirected Dylan Olsen's shot from the blue line for the game-winning goal on the power play with 7.9 seconds left in overtime to give UMD the 3-2 win.

"We played good, solid hockey hockey for 50 minutes," Bemidji State forward Jordan George said. "It was the 10 minutes we didn't have that cost us. You have to have a 60-minute effort in this league or you will lose. You can't lose sleep or have a long memory about this one."

The win kept Minnesota-Duluth unbeaten (6-0-1 overall, 3-0 WCHA) and dropped the Beavers to 0-3 overall (0-3 WCHA). The two teams wrap up the weekend series today at 7:07 p.m. the BREC.

Mike Connolly and J.T. Brown scored the other two goals for the Bulldogs. Matt Read and Jordan George scored for the Beavers.

BSU goalie Dan Bakala finished with 31 saves and UMD goalie Aaron Crandall had 26 saves.

The game was a special teams exhibition. There were 13 combined penalties in the game: BSU was 1-for-5 on the power play and UMD was 3-for-6.

The Beavers had to weather an early rush from the Bulldog power play that produced two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game.

BSU's Jake Areshenko was sent to the penalty box 27 seconds in and Connolly cashed in 19 seconds later to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. Bemidji State goalie Bakala made a pair of acrobatic saves before Connolly chipped it in at the 46 second mark.

BSU's Shea Walters was assessed a game misconduct on a contact to the head major penalty at 8:36. Bulldog freshman J.T. Brown scored his fourth goal of the season when he backhanded a shot past Bakala on the ensuing power play at 10:03 of the first period.

And while the goal gave the Bulldogs the 2-0 lead, Serratore characterized the physical play leading into penalty as the turning point for the Beavers.

"The first 10 minutes of the game I thought we were playing on our heels and they really took it to us," Serratore said. "Even though Shea got kicked out of the game, it was really a great shift for us."

The Beavers managed to climb out of that two-goal deficit by the end of the first period on goals from Read and George.

Read put the Beavers on the board at 15:19 of the first period when he aggressively put back a rebound and nearly fell over the crossbar in the process. The goal came midway through BSU's first power play of the game.

George scored just over a minute later when he took Ian Lowe's pass from behind the net and beat Aaron Crandall with a quick shot.

"You've got to stay positive," said George when asked about first period. "At one point there we were outshot 14-3 and we were just trying to get one bounce to go our way. That shift from the Shea line really was a turnaround for us."

The two teams went into the first intermission tied 2-2.

Bemidji State nearly took the lead seven minutes into the third period when Drew Fisher whacked a puck out of the air. But Crandall caught just enough of the puck and it fluttered wide of the net.

UMD had a golden chance as well when Jake Hendrickson forced a turnover inside the blue line with just under eight minutes remaining. He skated in all alone on the net, but Bakala stretched out his glove and deflected the puck out of play.

With 37 seconds left in the third period, George sidestepped Trent Palm at the blue line for a breakaway. Crandall stopped the shot and didn't give up the rebound.

BSU had a few chances in the third period, most notably an open shot by Read that was saved by Crandall.

The final penalty of the game proved costly. When Kyle Schmidt broke loose and skated in on Bakala, BSU defenseman Brad Hunt was forced to take the body or give Schmidt an open look at the net.

Hunt was assessed the tripping penalty with 1:58 left in overtime. When BSU couldn't clear the puck in the waning seconds, Olsen fired the shot that slipped under Bakala's leg and ended the game.

Despite the loss, Serratore was comfortable with the effort put forward by the Beavers.

"We played good and it was a great hockey game," Serratore said. "I like the resiliency our guys showed after the first 10 minutes, we went toe-to-toe with them in the second, we played good in the third and that was a great tip in to win the game...this is the WCHA and it's a league where you can't make mistakes. You can still play great and lose."

UMD 2 0 0 1 -3

BSU 2 0 0 0 - 2

First Period- 1. UMD, M. Connolly 6 (Faulk, J. Connolly), :46, pp. 2. UMD, Brown 4 (Schmidt, Olson), 10:03, pp. 3. BSU, Read 2 (Lowe, Hunt), 15:19, pp. 4, BSU George 3 (Lowe, Wacker), 16:59, pp.

Second period- No scoring.

Third Period- No scoring.

Overtime - 5. UMD, Oleksuk 5 (Olsen, Brown), 4:53, pp.

Shots on goal- UMD, 15-11-4-4-34. BSU, 8-7-11-2-28.

Goalies- UMD, Crandall (28-26). BSU, Bakala (34-31).

Power Play- UMD, 3-of-6. BSU, 1-of-5.