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Bemidji State hockey team gains historic first WCHA point with 1-1 tie against Minnesota-Duluth

Bemidji State's Jamie MacQueen (17) tips a shot in front of Minnesota-Duluth goalie Kenny Reiter during the first period of Saturday night's game at the Bemidji Regional Event Center. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji State men's hockey team earned its first point in the WCHA on the stick of Emil Billberg Saturday night at the Bemidji Regional Event Center.

Billberg's hard slap shot beat Minnesota-Duluth goalie Kenny Reiter with 1:31 left in the third period forced overtime where the game ended in a 1-1 tie.

"We really needed points and it feels good to get the point out of this game," Billberg said. "It was really important for us."

The tie ended Bemidji State's losing streak at three games and moved the Beavers record to 0-3-1 (0-3-1 WCHA). The Beavers will play on the road next week at St. Cloud State, which split with Quinnipiac in a non-conference series this weekend.

Minnesota-Duluth (6-0-2 overall, 3-0-1 WCHA) move to the top of the WCHA standings by taking three points out of the weekend.

Justin Faulk scored Minnesota-Duluth's lone goal at 3:51 of the third period on a power play, which was the only blemish for BSU's penalty kill. The Beavers killed a 5-on-3 Bulldog power play in the second period and killed four of the five Bulldogs power plays in the game.

Bemidji State went with backup goalie Mathieu Dugas in Saturday's game and he finished with 28 saves, the most critical coming with about two minutes left in overtime.

His leg save on Wade Bergman during a two-man breakaway saved the Beavers from back-to-back overtime losses.

"I think we were more prepared going into overtime tonight," Dugas said. "This was my first game starting and I had a good feel for the puck and I was seeing it clearly. I didn't give up many rebounds and it was a team effort in controlling the rebounds."

Minnesota-Duluth also went with a different goalie in Saturday's game. Reiter finished with 19 saves.

The game was a defensive battle and unlike Friday's 3-2 UMD overtime victory, scoring chances were much harder to come by.

Ryan Cramer, Radoslav Illo and Jamie MacQueen all had quality scoring chances in the final minutes of the third period for the Beavers.

But it was Billberg who came through.

MacQueen gained the blue line and backhanded a soft pass across the ice to Billberg, who wound up and caught all the puck on the one-timer.

"It's tough to pick your shot there," Billberg said. "I was just trying to go high and I was able to find a spot there."

Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore was happy with his team's effort in the win.

"I'm happy with the resiliency of our team again tonight with scoring that goal," Serratore said. "We were almost left for dead again. These types of games are building blocks for our team."