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Men's hockey: Dramatic third-period rally lifts Bemidji St. to 4-4 tie with Miami

Every free puck was a challenge for the Bemidji State Beavers against a very fast Miami team on Friday night. BSU’s Mitch Cain battles Miami’s Ben Paulides for a rebound during the second period. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer 1 / 2
Beavers defenseman Ruslan Pedan takes a shot from the blue line during a power play on Friday night against Miami. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer 2 / 2

BEMIDJI — Sure, Sam Rendle’s game-tying goal with 42.8 seconds to play in Bemidji State’s game against Miami capped the Beavers’ three-goal comeback Friday night.

The junior defenseman from Grand Rapids got a shot from the point with an extra attacker that bounced off something — a Miami stick, a body, a facemask — and beat Miami goaltender Ryan McKay.

But Rendle’s goal was just the capstone in a delirious final five minutes at the Sanford Center.

“I mean, that was the one play but it was a series of events leading up to there,” Rendle said. “All our forwards were buzzing and there was a lot of energy in the arena. It was everybody.”

The Beavers — helped by Andrew Walsh’s 34 saves and a strong defensive effort that swatted back more than a few close calls — scored three goals in the third period and skated to a 4-4 tie with ranked Miami in the first game of their nonconference series.

“I’ve been involved in some pretty exciting games as a coach but that’s right up there,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “There were a lot of close calls. A couple times we could have won that game and a couple times they could have won that game… it was a wild, crazy game, fun game for our guys to be proud of.”

The Beavers (5-7-3) went into the final frame down 4-1 thanks to two goals apiece by Miami’s Alex Gracek and Blake Coleman. The two RedHawks forwards scored a goal apiece in each of the first two periods.

Cory Ward added a goal off the crossbar in the second to give BSU its goal, but it was a wild third period that helped the Beavers rally.

Radoslav Illo scored in the third minute of the frame, beating McKay on an impressive wrist shot while using Miami defenseman Ben Paulides as a screen.

Brendan Harms cut Miami’s lead to 4-3 at the 8:43 mark, playing a puck off the wall then shooting from the circle to beat McKay top-shelf.

The Beavers continued to buzz in the third, outshooting Miami 16-6 in the period, but the RedHawks nearly put the game away many times.

The closest call occurred with about three minutes to go when Miami’s Alex Wideman took a shot that hit the crossbar and fell into the crease beside Walsh. He didn’t see it, but luckily for BSU, center Mitch Cain did and he managed to get his stick on it just in time to prevent it from crossing the goal line.

“There were a couple crazy bounces in the third there,” Walsh said. “Even in the overtime there were a couple. When you seem to be going hard and everyone’s going 100 percent you seem to be getting those bounces…. when you start working hard you get some karma on your side.”

Walsh skated to the bench for the extra attacker with just more than a minute left and the Beavers scored the goal, but it was far from over.

BSU’s Markus Gerbrandt was called for a cross-check after time expired in regulation and the Redhawks began the extra time on the power play.

The Beavers managed to kill it but nearly ended the game with a shorthanded goal by Phil Brewer, who was stoned by McKay.

“There were so many close calls,” Serratore said.

“I was really proud of our guys. I mean, killing that penalty off in overtime. Then Brewer almost snuck it between McKay’s legs… it was just an entertaining hockey game.”

The RedHawks outshot the Beavers 4-3 in the overtime.

Still, it was quite the comeback for the Beavers, who were outshot 17-5 in the first period and didn’t generate much offense.

“Walsher bailed us out in the first,” Rendle said. “We could have easily gone into first intermission down 4-0 but he kept us in it. The least we can do for him is work hard for him. Our goal in overtime was to play for a tie and maybe catch a bounce and score, but we’re fortunate and happy to walk away with a tie.”

McKay ended with 32 saves for Miami, which is now 7-6-2 overall.

The teams return for the rematch today at 7:07 p.m.

Miami 4, Bemidji State 4, OT

Miami 2 2 0 0 — 4

BSU 0 1 3 0 — 4

First Period — 1, MU, Gacek 1 (Paulides, Kurlay), 11:00; 2, MU, Coleman 1 (Cook), 18:19. Penalties — MU, Greenberg (Hooking), 6:08; BSU, Kinne (Cross-Checking), 11:50.

Second Period — 3, MU, Gacek 2 (Barber, Kurlay), 1:50; 4, BSU, Ward (Harms, Mattson), 4:13; 5, MU, Coleman 2 (Cook). Penalties — MU, Joyaex (Elbowing), 7:00; BSU, Hansen (Holding The Stick), 15:51.

Third Period — 6, BSU, Illo (Hansen, Jubinville), 2:45; 7, BSU, Harms (Unassisted), 8:13; 8, BSU, Rendle (McCormack, Gerbrandt). Penalties — MU, Barber (Slashing), 1:54; BSU, Pedan (Slashing), 1:54; BSU, Team (Too Many Men), 5:55; MU, Wideman (Holding), 6:07; BSU, Gernrandt (Cross-Checking), 20:00.

Overtime — No scoring. Penalties — None.

Shots on goal: MU — 17-11-6-4—38; BSU — 5-12-16-3—36; Goaltenders (shots-saves): MU — McKay (36-32); BSU — Walsh (38-36). Penalties-Minutes: MU — 4-8; BSU — 5-10. Power Play goals, opportunities: MU — 0-for-4; BSU — 0-for-3. Three stars: 1-Coleman, MU; 2-Gacek, MU; 3-Rendle, BSU.

Jack Hittinger

Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.

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