MEN'S HOCKEY: 2nd-period surge lifts Beavers over UST, but they can’t earn home ice
Despite its 7-2 win, Bemidji State is the No. 5 seed in the CCHA playoffs and will open at Northern Michigan.
MENDOTA HEIGHTS — After Friday night’s loss to St. Thomas, Bemidji State men's hockey head coach Tom Serratore said his team needed to learn how to win in many different ways, and the Beavers definitely showed that they learned a lot in Saturday’s rematch.
Bemidji State erupted for four goals in the second period and continued rolling from there on its way to a 7-2 blowout CCHA win over the Tommies to force a series split. Unfortunately for the Beavers (14-15-5, 12-11-3 CCHA), Northern Michigan defeated Bowling Green on the road, so Bemidji State will be traveling to Marquette, Mich., next week to face the Wildcats (18-16, 14-12 CCHA) to start the CCHA playoffs in a matchup between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.
“I thought we played well tonight,” Serratore said. “Our guys played with a lot of desperation. It was a must win for us for a multitude of different reasons, and the guys responded well. It was a good victory. We played 60 minutes of good hockey in every facet. Our special teams were good and our 5-on-5. We’re playing really shorthanded and the guys really responded and had good energy.”
For the Tommies (11-21-1, 10-14-2 CCHA), it was a night to forget. UST got on the scoreboard first, but that rough second period shifted the game completely into the Beavers favor. The seventh-seeded Tommies will also be heading to the Upper Peninsula next week, as they’ll take on second-seeded Michigan Tech (22-9-4, 15-7-4 CCHA) in the first round.
“We got a little discombobulated there, and they wanted home ice,” Tommies head coach Rico Blasi said. “They’re a desperate team, so they deserve all the credit. They deserved to win tonight. They were just a little bit better than us in every aspect of the game.”
Penalties filled the first period, with the Beavers’ Ross Armour getting called for all three of BSU’s infractions. His second one was costly, as UST’s Mack Byers got the Tommies their first tally. Freshman Lucas Wahlin sent a pass from the right post into the slot, where Byers one-timed it past Beavers goalie Mattias Sholl to make it 1-0.
Interestingly, Armour’s third penalty ended up benefitting the Beavers, as they ended up tying the game. On a short-handed rush, BSU’s Jere Vaisanen waited by the right boards, then sent a cross-ice pass to a streaking Will Zmolek, who rang a shot off the crossbar and into the back of the net to make it 1-1 heading into the second.
The Beavers took the lead early in the next period as the first three minutes turned into the Lleyton Roed show. Less than a minute in, the freshman skated hard to the net and beat Tommies goalie Aaron Trotter high to put BSU up 2-1. Then at the 2:40 mark, and with the Beavers on the power play, Roed tapped in a rebound to make it 3-1.
UST struck back, though. With 9:26 remaining in the second, Luke Manning sent a short pass to a charging Ethan Gauer, who fired it past Sholl to cut the Tommies’ deficit to 3-2. However, the momentum didn’t last, as BSU’s Elias Rosen fired a blast from the point past Trotter at the 17:23 mark to make it 4-2 Beavers. With less than a minute remaining in the period, Zmolek notched his second goal of the night, this time on the power play, to pad BSU’s lead to 5-2.
Ethan Roberts replaced Trotter in net to start the third, which meant that all three of UST’s goalies played in the game, as senior Henry Baribeau played the first three minutes of the first since it was Senior Night. However, the Tommies’ fortunes didn’t change, as Vaisanen backhanded the puck into a wide-open net at the 5:20 mark to push the lead to 6-2. Later, Kaden Pickering capped off the victory with a breakaway goal at the 13:24 mark.
When asked if an offensive performance like that would give the Beavers some momentum heading into the playoffs, Serratore said they’d have to wait and see.
“We’ll find out,” he said. “Northern Michigan has got momentum too. They’ve won, I think, four straight. So, the bottom line is we’re on the road and Northern earned that chance. But it was nice winning a game going into the playoffs.”
Bemidji State 7, St. Thomas 2
BSU 1 4 2 -- 7
UST 1 1 0 -- 2
First period -- 1, UST GOAL, Byers (Wahlin, O’Neill), 12:17, PP; 2, BSU GOAL, Zmolek (Vaisanen, Roed), 17:45, SH.
Second period -- 3, BSU GOAL, Roed (Rosén, Zmolek), 0:54; 4, BSU GOAL, Roed (Rosén), 2:40, PP; 5, UST GOAL, Gauer (Manning), 10:34; 6, BSU GOAL, Rosén (Lewandowski, Armour), 17:23; 7, BSU GOAL, Zmolek (Rosén, Jones), 19:06, PP.
Third period -- 8, BSU GOAL, Vaisanen (Satosaari, Lewandowski), 5:20; 9, BSU GOAL, Pickering (Looft), 13:24.
Saves -- Sholl (BSU) 15; Baribeau (UST) 1; Trotter (UST) 20; Roberts (UST) 8.