MEN’S HOCKEY: Pickering tip gives Beavers lead, but UMD steals tie with late goal
“It was a tight hockey game,” Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said. “There wasn’t any easy ice. And I thought their battle level, their compete level was the best that we’ve seen this year.”
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men’s hockey team had to wake up quickly against Minnesota Duluth on Friday at the Sanford Center.
Returning from an extended hiatus, the Beavers played their first non-exhibition game in three weeks, and the Bulldogs were ready to dig in and challenge. The two teams fought for ice and possession, and neither squad scored until the third period.
In the final frame, forward Kaden Pickering gave BSU a 1-0 lead with a swift deflection of Elias Rosén’s pass in the slot at 3:40. UMD got it back down the stretch, as Wyatt Kaiser threw in a puck from the blue line at 18:05 while the Bulldogs had an extra skater.
That sent the contest to overtime. Neither team scored 3-on-3 for an official nonconference tie in the history books, but Minnesota Duluth won the ensuing exhibition shootout 1-0.
“It was a tight hockey game,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “When I say tight, there wasn’t any easy ice. And I thought their battle level, their compete level was the best that we’ve seen this year. We had a hard time getting ice.”
Pickering found a patch of open ice for Bemidji State’s lone goal, and it came in the high slot – a region not typically reserved for tip-ins. But Pickering’s stick nicked Rosén’s feed, and the puck was in the net before UMD goaltender Zach Stejskal could lock an eye on it.
“Coach harps on us to get to the net and get sticks ready and go for those high tips,” Pickering said. “It's not often it works out quite like that, but it was nice that it happened.”
All night long, goalie Mattias Sholl kept the Beavers (9-5-5, 7-2-3 CCHA) within striking distance through his work in net, turning away a total of 33 saves – many of which crisscrossed the crease at atypical angles.
“Just trying to find the puck, just trying to get eyes on it,” Sholl said of his approach. “Move my head around bodies. If I can get eyes on it, I see a release, I felt like I was pretty rebound mistake-free for the most part. I was able to have some good lanes to see the puck – other than that last goal, unfortunately. Just trying to move around and get low and try and find the puck as best I can.”
While in the midst of navigating the standard variables of gameplay, Sholl also had to manage a faulty mask. Sholl’s helmet has been giving him problems, and he temporarily switched it out for fellow goalie Gavin Enright’s iteration.
“That’s been going on for the last week or two,” Sholl said. “It’s a clip (that’s malfunctioning). It’s an older helmet now, so a little bit rusted clip. It’s the same spot over and over again, so we’ll see. Hopefully we can get some super glue on that or something, keep it there a little bit longer. … (Gavin’s is) much tighter, too. I’m glad I got mine back after the next whistle.”
BSU wasn’t too dismayed by the tie, but the Beavers sensed they could have played better. Pickering elucidated his thoughts by separating the final score from his assessment of Bemidji State’s performance.
“It's not so much the result we're focused on,” Pickering said. “It's how we play, and we know that we didn't have our best. Tomorrow, if we have our best, it's going to be a different story.”
“We want to win these games,” Sholl added. “We know UMD’s a good team. … It's important to be picking up games like this. We weren't really as sharp and as hard to play against as usual tonight. I don't really know what it is. … A couple of times tonight, we were going through it a little bit. It’s just the way the game goes sometimes, but we'll bounce back. We'll be ready for tomorrow.”
BSU concludes its home-and-home with the Bulldogs (8-10-1, 4-6 NCHC) at 6:07 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, in Duluth.
Minnesota Duluth 1, Bemidji State 1 (UMD wins shootout)
UMD 0 0 1 0 -- 1
BSU 0 0 1 0 -- 1
First period -- No scoring.
Second period -- No scoring.
Third period -- 1, BSU GOAL, Pickering (Rosén, Zmolek), 3:40; 2, UMD GOAL, Kaiser (unassisted), 18:05, EA.
Overtime – No scoring.
Shootout – UMD wins 1-0.
Saves -- Sholl (BSU) 33; Stejskal (UMD) 21.