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Bemidji State men's hockey ties Nebraska-Omaha in goalie battle

Nebraska-Omaha's Johnnie Searfosswatches the puck as Bemidji State goaltender Dan Bakala makes a save Friday at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. Chris Machian | Omaha World-Herald1 / 2
Nebraska-Omaha's Tony Turgeon, left, checks Bemidji State's Darcy Findlay, right, during Friday night's game in Omaha. Photo courtesy of Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald2 / 2

The Bemidji State men's hockey team tied Nebraska-Omaha 1-1 Friday night at CenturyLink Center in a game where the goalies traded highlight-reel saves.

Bemidji State's Dan Bakala had 37 saves and shut out the Mavericks for the first 55 minutes of the game. Omaha's Ryan Massa stopped 27 shots, his biggest coming on the last scoring opportunity of the overtime with 1:05 remaining.

"They could have scored five times, we could have scored five times but those things happen," BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. "Am I disappointed? Of course I am because we were three and half minutes (from winning). The way the complexion of that game was going, it was just a good hockey game."

Radoslav Illo scored for Bemidji State in the second period and Omaha's Bryce Aneloski scored with 3:40 led in the third period to force overtime.

"To me it was an unbelievable hockey game," Serratore said. "On the bench it was a great game and I guarantee it was in the stands. It's probably fitting there was a tie. We had the lead, it's frustrating losing it but give credit where credit's due. That's a good hockey team over there."

Bemidji State (12-12-3, 6-10-3 WCHA) and Nebraska-Omaha (12-10-5, 9-6-4 WCHA) conclude the weekend series Saturday in Omaha at 7:07 p.m.

Both goalies returned from injury Friday night. Bakala played last Friday against Mankato but did not dress Saturday due to an undisclosed lower body injury. Massa was taken from the ice on a stretcher after suffering a concussion Jan. 20 at Mankato.

The game started out with a special teams exhibition when five penalties were called through the first 12 minutes. The Mavericks had the first two power plays and Bemidji State followed with two of its own.

Neither team could convert because of Massa and Bakala. The Mavericks were unable to score during 83 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play, which Bakala ended by denying Terry Broadhurst at the edge of the crease.

BSU finished the game 0-for-3 on the power play and Omaha was 0-for-6.

Illo broke the scoreless tie 54 seconds into the third period with his seventh goal of the season by picking the corner above Massa's glove with a wrist shot from the top of the circle.

Bakala continued to shut down the Mavericks in the second period, which included a kick save on Jayson Megna as a BSU power play expired midway through the period.

Bakala followed by making a spine-bending blocker save on Aneloski two minutes later.

The goalies matched each other for much of the third period. Massa ended a BSU odd-man rush by stopping Ben Kinne at the edge of the net with his outstretched leg with 12 minutes remaining. Bakala dived head first to stop a point-blank shot by Brock Montpetit six minutes later.

"Both goalies played very well and kept their teams in it," Serratore said.

Aneloski ended Bakala's shutout bid in the third period when his shot from between the circles was deflected and trickled through.

Bemidji State had two good scoring opportunities in overtime and nearly won it with 1:05 remaining. Jake Areshenko's slap shot from the blue line was hard enough to get under Massa's pads, but he snapped his legs together before the puck could squeeze out behind his skates.

Bemidji State's overtime record moved to 1-0-3 this season with the tie.

BSU 0 1 0 0 - 1

UNO 0 0 1 0 - 1

First period - No scoring.

Second period - 1, BSU Illo 7 (Walters, Hunt), :54.

Third period - 2, UNO, Aneloski 4 (Jaycob Megna, Gwidt), 16:20.

Overtime- No scoring.

Shots on goal - BSU, 7-10-9-2-28. UNO, 10-14-12-2-38.

Goalies - BSU, Bakala (38-37). UNO, Massa (28-27).

Power plays - BSU, 0-for-3. UNO, 0-for-6.