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MEN’S HOCKEY: Bemidji State locks down Tommies late, secures wild 6-4 win

It was a cathartic feeling when Bemidji State sealed off St. Thomas down the stretch on Friday at the Sanford Center, holding off the Tommies 6-4 despite losing two different leads – one of which was by two goals.

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The Beavers celebrate after freshman Adam Flammang (8) scored to tie the game 1-1 during the second period against St. Thomas on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men’s hockey team didn’t necessarily need a regulation win.

But the Beavers hadn’t won without the aid of overtime in multiple weeks – at home, they hadn’t accomplished the feat since defeating then-No. 2 St. Cloud State on Oct. 28.

So it was a cathartic feeling when BSU sealed off St. Thomas down the stretch on Friday at the Sanford Center, holding off the Tommies 6-4 despite losing two different leads – one of which was by two goals.

“We've had a hard time in the early going with the six (CCHA) games that we've had – you’ve got to get regulation wins,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “Three points are better than two. Once you get that thing in overtime, we all know, the game of luck comes in there. It's just a game of luck. It's the game of breaks.”

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The Beavers congratulate junior Jackson Jutting (27) after he scored to put Bemidji State up 2-1 during the second period against St. Thomas on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

To ensure they wouldn’t require the aid of Lady Luck in an overtime setting, Bemidji State sat on a 5-4 advantage for 12 minutes and 42 seconds down the stretch, finally putting St. Thomas away with Lleyton Roed’s empty-netter at 19:49 in the third.

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“Our team is really built to uphold leads in the style we play,” forward Jackson Jutting said. “So after we scored that fifth goal, we knew what we had to do the rest of the period. … We could hold on to that the rest of the period, and just wear them down and take that one-goal lead to the end.”

Earlier in the contest, St. Thomas (4-13, 3-8 CCHA) got on the board first, as Nolan Sawchuk took advantage of chaos in front of the Bemidji State net to score at 13:37 in the first period. The Beavers (6-4-3, 4-1-2 CCHA) had to wait until the second period to counter, but Adam Flammang did so on the power play at 7:20, taking advantage of stellar puck cycling in the offensive zone.

BSU built on that score with Jutting’s goal at 12:29, another payoff of excellent puck movement. Twenty-eight seconds later, Alexander Lundman scored on a rebound for a 3-1 margin, and Bemidji State looked poised to take over the matchup.

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Bemidji State freshman Lleyton Roed (29) reaches for the puck during the first period against St. Thomas on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

It wasn’t to be. St. Thomas stormed back in the period’s stretch run, and Mack Byers posted back-to-back goals in the final two minutes of the frame.

“We stubbed our toe in the second,” Serratore said. “We have a 3-1 lead, and you can't (lose that). You’ve got to get out of the period up 3-1, you have to. And we knew there was going to be push. They’re a good hockey team. They’ve got good speed. Since they called that timeout in the second, I thought they dictated play the last five minutes.”

Despite the disappointment of failing to hold such a promising edge, the Beavers didn’t dwell on their mistakes. Elias Rosén rocketed a one-timer 27 seconds into the third period, giving BSU a 4-3 lead.

And though UST responded with Josh Eernisse’s goal on the power play at 3:33, Bemidji State still didn’t panic. Lundman found an open spot on the left circle, rapped his stick on the ice to call for the puck and rifled in a right-top-corner shot at 7:07.

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Bemidji State sophomore Alexander Lundman (21) chases the puck during the first period against St. Thomas on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“When you get the puck in a great spot like that, you’re just trying to find the open spot (in the net),” Lundman said. “I (went) for the corner. It was a great pass from (Jere Vaisanen) and great pre-work by (Mitchell Martan). It was a great chance, so I was happy that it went in.”

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The Beavers held that third lead for the remainder of the fixture and secured their coveted three points.

Mattias Sholl stopped 20 shots to keep BSU in position for the victory, while St. Thomas’ Aaron Trotter saved 34.

The two teams will match up once more at 6:07 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, back at the Sanford Center.

Bemidji State 6, St. Thomas 4

UST 1 2 1 -- 4

BSU 0 3 3 -- 6

First period -- 1, UST GOAL, Sawchuk (Lee, O’Neill), 13:37.

Second period -- 2, BSU GOAL, Flammang (Jutting, Looft), 7:20, PP; 3, BSU GOAL, Jutting (Rosén, Roed), 12:29; 4, BSU GOAL, Lundman (Magnuson, Martan), 12:57; 5, UST GOAL, Byers (O’Neill, Wahlin), 18:47; 6, UST GOAL, Byers (Wahlin, O’Neill), 19:54.

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Third period -- 7, BSU GOAL, Rosén (Martin, Armour), 0:27; 8, UST GOAL, Eernisse (Recchi, Zins), 3:33, PP; 9, BSU GOAL, Lundman (Vaisanen, Martan), 7:07; 10, BSU GOAL, Roed (Armour, Martin), 19:49, EN.

Saves -- Sholl (BSU) 20; Trotter (UST) 34.

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Bemidji State senior Elias Rosén (28) controls the puck during the third period against St. Thomas on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji State freshman Adam Flammang (8) fights for the puck during the second period against St. Thomas on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji State senior Will Zmolek (4) shoots the puck during the second period against St. Thomas on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji State fifth-year Ross Armour (17) moves the puck during the third period against St. Thomas on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

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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