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No. 16 Denver rallies to sweep Bemidji State men's hockey team

Bemidji State's David Boehm, center, skates after the puck as Denver goalie Juho Olkinuora, right, and Denver's Paul Phillips, left, defend during the first period of Saturday night's game in Denver. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

DENVER - Denver rallied with two goals in the third period to defeat the Bemidji State men's hockey team 3-2 Saturday night at Magness Arena for the weekend series sweep.

Jason Zucker scored twice for the No. 16 Pioneers including the game-winning goal on the power play with 8:10 remaining in the third period.

"It (third period) didn't start out well, having to kill off penalties is always tough and then we had to kill off another one," BSU captain Ben Kinne said. "You give a team like that chances, it hurts you because they're so skilled. You give a player like Zucker chances, he's going to score goals."

Kinne and Brady Wacker scored for Bemidji State, and goalie Dan Bakala had 25 saves. Juho Olkinuora had 25 saves for No. 16 Denver (13-8-3, 8-5-3 WCHA).

Bemidji State (11-11-2, 5-9-2 WCHA) does not play next weekend and faces Minnesota State University, Mankato Jan. 27-28 at the Sanford Center.

"You want to maintain ground in the WCHA and we didn't do that," BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. "Now we have to make up ground later. That gets tougher and tougher if you don't get points every weekend."

Like Friday's 6-3 loss to the Pioneers, Bemidji State scored the game's first goal. Kinne netted his eighth of the season on a wrist shot over Olkinuora's shoulder and under the crossbar midway through the first period.

Both teams each lost a player for the game during the first period on checking from behind major penalties.

The Beavers lost Jamie MacQueen after he checked Zac Larraza in the Denver zone. Larazza left the game with an injury and Zucker, a Minnesota Wild draft pick and Team USA World Junior Championships captain, scored his 12th of the season on the following power play. He picked the corner above Bakala's shoulder with 3:13 remaining in the period.

The Pioneers then lost defenseman Scott Mayfield with 20 seconds remaining and the Beavers took a 2-1 lead on the ensuing power play in the second period.

Wacker scored on a low wrist shot from the blue line 2:27 in and just seconds after Kinne had an apparent goal at the crease called off under video review.

Danny Mattson and Radoslav Illo assisted on Wacker's goal. The assists stretched Illo's point streak to five straight games and Mattson's point streak to four straight games.

"It felt like we were playing the way we wanted to," Wacker said. "We were playing the way we wanted and then we got away from it a little bit in the second. We came out in the third, we wanted to really win it and get the puck behind their defense."

But the Beavers spent the first few minutes of the period killing the end of Illo's five-minute grabbing the facemask penalty, which resulted during a scrum with Josiah Didier at the end of the second period.

Chris Knowlton tied the game at 2-2 six minutes into the third period when he put a short-side wrist shot in the corner above Bakala's glove.

The Pioneers won by taking advantage of a power play resulting from Matt Prapavessis' holding penalty on an odd man rush. Zucker scored with 8:10 to play when he put back a rebound under Bakala as he dived in an attempt to stop the shot.

"That's what great players do," Serratore said. "Zucker made a big-time play by getting the goal and being in the right spot."

Bakala was pulled from the goal with 90 seconds remaining for the extra attacker but Denver's defense held and the tying goal never came.

BSU 1 1 0 - 2

DU 1 0 2 - 3

First period - 1, BSU Kinne 8 (McLeod), 10:50. 2, DU Zucker 12 (LaLeggia, Mayfield), 16:47, (pp).

Second period - 3, BSU Wacker 4(Mattson, Illo), 2:27, (pp).

Third period - 4, BSU Knowlton 6 (Zucker, LaLeggia), 6:14. 5, DU Zucker 13 (Loney, LaLeggia), 11:50, (pp).

Shots on goal - BSU, 8-11-8-27. DU, 14-5-9-28.

Goalies - BSU, Bakala (28-25). DU, Olkinuora (27-25).

Power plays - BSU, 1-for-3. DU, 2-for-4

A- 5,131.