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MEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers use furious finish to flip deficit, beat UST in overtime

The players of the Bemidji State men’s hockey team experienced a callback to their younger days on the playground on Saturday, as the Beavers broke out the seesaw against St. Thomas.

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The Beavers celebrate after defeating St. Thomas 4-3 in overtime on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI -- The players of the Bemidji State men’s hockey team experienced a callback to their younger days on the playground on Saturday, as the Beavers broke out the seesaw against St. Thomas.

It was a back-and-forth affair at the Sanford Center, as both teams scored one goal apiece in each regulation period.

But in the 3-on-3 overtime session, the seesaw swung swiftly toward BSU, as Elias Rosén beat St. Thomas goaltender Peter Thome on a breakaway just 26 seconds in to bequeath Bemidji State a 4-3 overtime win.

“This was a nice way of winning,” head coach Tom Serratore said. “If it could be scripted any way, this is the way you'd want to script it, I would think. It was not easy. Our back was against the wall, and we found a way to get it done.”

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Bemidji State junior Elias Rosen (28) scores in overtime to beat St. Thomas 4-3 on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

The Beavers (16-18, 14-12 CCHA) flirted with the ignominious distinction of losing to the Tommies (3-30-1, 3-22-1 CCHA), who entered the game with just three wins this season.

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But down 3-2 late, BSU first killed off a 5-on-3, then responded with an extra-attacker goal by Alex Ierullo at 17:39 in the third period. And after sending it to overtime, Bemidji State ensured that this contest would not be logged in the loss column.

“It was a crazy game,” Ierullo said. “But I'm proud of the boys for battling back, and that's a big win going into playoffs here.”

The victory ultimately did not affect who the Beavers will face in the CCHA quarterfinals, but it did ensure that they’ll go into the first round next week riding the momentum of a successful sweep of UST.

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Bemidji State senior Alex Ierullo (14) celebrates his third-period goal against St. Thomas on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

“It is a roller coaster, but I'm happy the way that we kind of rode it,” Owen Sillinger said. “We didn't get too down, we didn't get too high. We just kind of steadily kept pushing and pushing and pushing the work in and came out on top. And that's all we can ask for, really.”

St. Thomas got the seesaw affair started with a goal by Luke Manning on a power-play poke in the crease at 11:28 in the first period. BSU matched it with a weaving finish by Ierullo in front of Thome at 15:47.

Aaron Swanson gave UST another lead at 4:42 in the second, but Sillinger swooped in with a deflection off an Ierullo pass at 8:46 to tie it once more.

In the third period, the Tommies took control again with a score by Grant Loven at 8:42. This followed a goal by UST’s Andrew Kangas at 8:08 that was waved off after review for offsides.

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Bemidji State senior Owen Sillinger (12) celebrates after scoring in the second period against St. Thomas on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

Then, Bemidji State seemingly countered at 13:57 with a goal by Lukas Sillinger, but that too was waved off for offsides after a St. Thomas challenge. The tying score instead found the stick of Ierullo.

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“I don't think I've ever really been a part of a game where a goal gets called off, and then they score, and then our goal gets called off,” Ierullo said. “It was pretty crazy.”

The fantastic finish gives the Beavers a measure of confidence as they prepare to host a playoff series with Bowling Green next week. Third-seeded BSU will welcome the sixth-seeded Falcons to Sanford Center for a best-of-three series that starts at 7:07 p.m. on Friday, March 4.

The second game will commence at 6:07 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, and, if necessary, the third game will be played at 5:07 p.m. on Sunday, March 6.

Bemidji State 4, St. Thomas 3 (OT)

UST 1 1 1 0 -- 3

BSU 1 1 1 1 -- 4

First period -- 1, UST GOAL, Manning (Grundy, Versich), 11:28, PP; 2, BSU GOAL, Ierullo (O. Sillinger, Magnuson), 15:47.

Second period -- 3, UST GOAL, Swanson (Manning), 4:42; 4, BSU GOAL, O. Sillinger (Ierullo, Zmolek), 8:46.

Third period -- 5, UST GOAL, Loven (Gauer, Sawchuk), 8:42; 6, BSU GOAL, Ierullo (L. Sillinger, Armour), 17:39, EA.

Overtime – 7, BSU GOAL, Rosén (L. Sillinger, O. Sillinger), 0:26, 3v3.

Saves -- Sholl (BSU) 20; Thome (UST) 41.

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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