MEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers beat No. 13 MSU in OT as Looft gets game-winner again
Kyle Looft lined up a percussive clapper from outside the right circle and laced in the game-winner against Minnesota State, just as he did in Mankato on Dec. 15.
BEMIDJI – Kyle Looft certainly has an affinity for Mankato.
He was born and raised there, sure. But the Bemidji State men’s hockey senior defenseman also has a knack for scoring big goals against his hometown team.
It happened again on Saturday at the Sanford Center. With 15 seconds left in overtime, Looft lined up a percussive clapper from just outside the right circle and laced in the game-winner against Minnesota State. His rocket from the point beat No. 13 MSU 2-1 and sent a raucous Senior Night home crowd into a frenzy.
What a way to cap off senior weekend for @BSUBeaversMHKY.— Chaz Mootz (@ChazMootzTV) February 19, 2023
For the 2nd time this season, Kyle Looft (@kyleloofty15) netted a game-winning powerplay goal with under a minute to play in OT to knock off his hometown team.
The shot, celebration, and postgame reaction all included: pic.twitter.com/wD3XB3jlcz
Looft’s shot eerily mirrored his OT strike from the top of the right circle that beat the Mavericks 4-3 in Mankato on Dec. 15.
🚨 BEAVERS WIN 🚨— Bemidji State Men’s Hockey (@BSUBeaversMHKY) December 16, 2022
Looft wins it for the Beavers!#GoBeavers #BeaverTerritory pic.twitter.com/yzLoas9H7D
“It's crazy,” Looft said. “It's definitely two humbling experiences. Obviously, it takes a lot to get to (that point). I give credit to my teammates for giving me that opportunity. And it ended up hitting the back of the net, which is awesome for our team.”
Looft’s score set off a volcanic eruption of BSU players onto the ice – including typically reserved goaltender Mattias Sholl, whose 17 saves put the Beavers in position for the win.
“I let out a huge yell, started going crazy,” Sholl said. “Skating down the ice just yelling my head off. (It was) a similar feeling when we were back in Mankato, the exact same thing of Loofty getting the game-winner. Elated probably would be the word I would use.”
On Senior Night, especially, Looft’s heroics were a fitting way to cap the regular-season careers of Bemidji State’s elder statesmen. A near-capacity crowd contributed to the furor, including Looft’s family and friends – 20 or so of whom were in attendance.
“Some of my buddies flew in – one from San Francisco, one from Maryland, one from Chicago – just guys from Mankato that I grew up with,” said Looft, a co-captain of this year’s BSU group. “And then a couple others came up with them that are still living in Mankato. Girlfriend's family, my parents, grandparents. It's awesome that they make the trip, and very happy that they were here to see it.”
Adam Flammang put the Beavers (13-14-5, 11-10-3 CCHA) up 1-0 in the first period with an unassisted goal. Steven Bellini countered for the Mavericks (20-11-1, 15-8-1 CCHA) on the power play at 17:51.
The two squads remained deadlocked for the rest of regulation in part thanks to Sholl, who stoned multiple breakaways and a penalty shot in the second period to keep the box score even.
“Every time you feel the puck, you start feeling more confident, especially if it's a breakaway and you know your team needs that save,” Sholl said. “And I got a little bit lucky there a couple of times where they kind of missed the net, whether it was my positioning or just what happened. It’s definitely a good feeling for myself personally, and then I think that flows into the team when you see a goalie making a big save. But that's part of the job.”
The victory was also significant for BSU in the CCHA standings. With the overtime triumph, the Beavers moved three points ahead of Ferris State and Northern Michigan for fourth place in the conference. With four points next weekend at St. Thomas, Bemidji State will host the CCHA Quarterfinals on home ice.
“It's nice,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “We needed to get points. It would have been nice to get three, but you'll take two. The biggest thing is we control our destiny. We don't need to scoreboard-watch. But now we’ve got to get it done. We’ve got to get it done on the road against a team who’s very good. But we'll worry about that on Monday.”
The Beavers face off against the Tommies to finish the regular season on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25, in Mendota Heights.
Highlights from @BSUBeaversMHKY's 2-1 overtime victory over No. 13 Minnesota State on Saturday night at Sanford Center.— CCHA (@CCHAHockey) February 19, 2023
🎥: https://t.co/yRw1IaFf0i#CCHAHockey pic.twitter.com/htcX0S1m2G
Bemidji State 2, Minnesota State 1 (OT)
MSU 1 0 0 0 – 1
BSU 1 0 0 1 -- 2
First period -- 1, BSU GOAL, Flammang (unassisted), 11:16; 2, MSU GOAL, Bellini (Carroll, Furry), 17:51, PP.
Second period – No scoring.
Third period -- No scoring.
Overtime – 3, BSU GOAL, Looft (Satosaari, Vaisanen), 4:45, 4v3.
Saves -- Sholl (BSU) 17; Rancier (MSU) 24.