MEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers blanked by Lakers in 2-0 loss

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BEMIDJI -- Despite holding Lake Superior State to 20 shots on goal, the Bemidji State men’s hockey team was stifled offensively in a 2-0 shutout loss in Friday night’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association series opener at the Sanford Center.

Netminder Nick Kossoff stopped all 28 shots that came his way to earn the shutout for the Lakers (7-20-4, 5-15-3-0 WCHA). The last time the Beavers (14-9-6, 11-6-4-2 WCHA) had been held scoreless was Oct. 14 in a 0-0 tie at Minnesota Duluth.

Lake Superior State executed its defensive-minded gameplan to a tee right off the bat.

“They won the game in the first period,” BSU coach Tom Serratore said. “They stuck to their gameplan. They played a very simple game and they executed it. They didn’t make any mistakes. We made a couple mistakes, and the couple mistakes that we made, the puck went in the back of the net.”

BSU struggled to find second-chance opportunities due to how frequently LSSU cleared the puck.

“Any chance they got a puck into the defensive zone, that thing was out,” Serratore said, “and sometimes they had guys off to the races right there and that created a little offense for them.”

Such an opportunity led to a 2-on-1 rush that resulted in the game’s first goal. Bryan Basilico played a puck to J.T. Henke who one-timed it home for a goal at 14:49 of the opening frame.

Time was winding down in the second period when the Lakers added another goal. Gage Torrel dished a pass through traffic across the slot to Anthony Nellis for the one-timer from the right dot to let LSSU take a 2-0 lead with 3:43 to go in the period.

Bemidji State’s second-ranked penalty kill kept the Lakers from adding another in the final two minutes of the second to enter the intermission down 2-0.

The Beavers won the shots battle 13-4 in the final frame, but ultimately could not break the Lakers’ defense.

“Once you go down 2-0, teams are going to shut down defensively and they’re going to play solid, sound hockey and that’s what they did,” said sophomore Zach Whitecloud.

Michael Bitzer made 18 saves on 20 shots for the Beavers. BSU went 0-for-1 on the power play, but the penalty kill held LSSU to an 0-for-4 night.

The Beavers will regroup for tonight’s series finale at 7:07 as they go for the split at the Sanford Center.

“They earned that win and we just (have to) go out tomorrow night and put this one in the past, learn from it,” Whitecloud said. “That’s the biggest thing. You’re always going to have games like that. It’s just unfortunate that it came at this point in the season. You (have to) learn your lessons and kind of lick your wounds while you can and then just make sure you don’t make the same mistakes the next night.”

BSU to host Native Nations Night

The Beavers will honor the native peoples and heritage of the Bemidji region with Native Nations Night as a part of tonight’s game at the Sanford Center.

Zach Whitecloud will be available after the game to sign autographs. The sophomore defenseman from Brandon, Manitoba, is a member of the Dakota Band of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation.

“It’s unexplainable,” Whitecloud said of what it means to him to represent native peoples. “It’s not a title in a sense, but it’s in my heart that I’m the only native individual on the team. To have a night where everyone can come out for the game and to have everyone from the surrounding reserves, and even people from back home to come down and support the local reserves, the hockey team, the town of Bemidji -- it’s really special. We just (have to) make sure that we give those people a good show for what they’re coming down for.”

Discount tickets are available for all tribal members. Cost is $12 for adults and $5 for those 17 and under. For more information, call 218-441-4031.

Lake Superior State 2, Bemidji State 0
LSSU 1 1 0 -- 2
BSU 0 0 0 -- 0
First period -- 1, LSSU, Henke (Basilico, Chatham), 14:49.
Second period -- 2, LSSU, Nellis (Torrel), 16:17.
Third period -- No scoring.
Goaltending (Shots-Saves) -- BSU, Bitzer (20-18); LSSU, Kossoff (28-28).