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Bakala's performance shines in Bemidji State's win over Mavericks

Bemidji State goalie Dan Bakala, right, makes a save in front of Minnesota State University, Mankato's Johnny McInnis, left, as Brady Wacker, center, defends during the first period Friday at the Sanford Center. Eric Stromgren | Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji State goalie Dan Bakala acknowledged a little bit of luck in his performance during Friday night's 2-1 win over Minnesota State University, Mankato at the Sanford Center.

Bakala stopped 39 of the 40 shots he faced and one of those with just over four minutes remaining in the game helped preserve the win.

"I saw most of it and I was fortunate that a couple of them hit me with my eyes closed," he said. "It was a nice little confidence boost. We started off pretty soft but we just have to keep it going. These games are pretty important right now."

Danny Mattson scored in the second period and Jordan George scored the game-winner with 10:14 left in the third period for the Beavers, which played its first game in nearly two weeks.

Max Gaede scored the lone goal for the Mavericks midway through the first period and goalie Phil Cook finished with 24 saves. Gaede had trouble pinpointing when the game slipped away from the Mavericks.

"There wasn't a point, but there were breakdowns that could have been avoided by making simple plays," Gaede said. "I think we need to simplify a little bit, the four-on-two we had at the end we went offsides. Stuff like that. I don't think we need to change much besides our work ethic and bury our chances."

Bemidji State (12-11-2, 6-9-2 WCHA) and Mankato (8-18-1, 4-14-1 WCHA) conclude the weekend series Saturday at the Sanford Center at 7:07 p.m.

Friday's game was fast-paced, but as fast as it was, stringing passes together in the offensive zone was a challenge for each side.

"We knew they were a rush offense team and we have to play a 200-foot game with those guys," George said. "They're good and they have a lot of speed over there. I think there was quite a bit of turnovers back and forth, and whoever got the last bounce was going to win that one."

Gaede scored the first goal 8:58 into the game at the edge of the post on a centering pass from Park Rapids native Zach Lehrke. The puck wen quickly in and out of the net, and stood under video review.

The Beavers lost fourth-line forward Darcy Findlay for the game on a checking from behind major/misconduct penalty four minutes later, but killed the penalty and went into the intermission trailing 1-0.

Losing Findlay was an added challenge for the Beavers as he is the team's sixth penalty killer. BSU allowed just three shots on the major power play and killed all three Maverick power plays in the game.

"It was a little hairy at times because (Matt) Leitner and (Jean-Paul) LaFontaine have that 2-on-1 down low and we were lucky a few times to come out of there alive," BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. "Overall I thought our guys executed well on the kill. We had a hard time clearing the puck during the five-minute major so we were exhausted. They had extended time in the zone so that was especially tough on us.

Both goalies stopped breakaways in the second period, Cook on Jamie MacQueen early and Bakala on Lehrke late.

Mattson broke through for the Beavers with 4:40 left in the period when he skated over the blue line, across the face-off dot and picked the corner above Cook's shoulder with a wrist shot.

It extended his point streak to five games.

"The second goal was a gutty play and a great shot by Danny," Serratore said.

George put the Beavers ahead for good midway through the third period.

George took a cross-ice pass from Ben Kinne at the circles and put back his rebound for his team-leading 13th goal of the year.

"It was actually a great play by (Aaron) McLeod and he kicked it wide to Benny," George said. "He had some nice vision there and slid it over to me. I just tried to get it on net, stick with it and fortunately it went in there."

Bakala preserved the lead on his best save of the game with 4:56 remaining when he made a save with his left leg on Mike Louwerse's shot as he streaked across the front of the net.

"I should have caught it off the start, and it was a good thing I got across and he didn't get it up," Bakala said.

The Beavers started slow but improved as the game wore on. After putting 15 shots on Cook through the first two periods, the Beavers had 11 shots on goal in the third period.

"I thought we played well in the third period, thought we managed the puck well and had good chances," Serratore said. "I thought Phil Cook played pretty good because there was a few times where we could have got that third goal but couldn't convert."

MSUM 1 0 0 - 1

BSU 0 1 1 - 2

First period - 1, MSU Gaede 2 (Lehrke, Dorr), 8:58.

Second period - 2, BSU Mattson 2 (Areshenko), 16:20.

Third period - 3, BSU George 13 (Kinne, McLeod), 9:46.

Shots on goal - MSU, 11-15-14-40. BSU, 6-9-11-26.

Goalies - MSU, Cook (26-24). BSU, Bakala (40-39).

Power Plays- MSU, 0-for-3. BSU, 0-for-1.