BEMIDJI -- For the first 44 minutes of Friday’s game, it appeared as though the Bemidji State men’s hockey team was well on its way to winning a fifth straight home opener over a nationally ranked opponent. That came crashing down in the third period when No. 7 St. Cloud State scored four unanswered goals to force overtime.
The season opener eventually ended in a 4-4 tie, but it probably felt more like a loss to the Beavers (0-0-1, 0-0-0 WCHA) and those wearing green at the Sanford Center.
“That game was self-inflicted,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said.
Adam Brady scored his second goal of the game 26 seconds into the third to give Bemidji State a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Kevin Fitzgerald put the Huskies (0-0-1, 0-0-0 NCHC) on the board at 4:56 of the frame, but Easton Brodzinski was soon issued a game misconduct and a five-minute major for checking from behind. The five-minute power play gave the Beavers every chance to put the game away.
Instead, SCSU tallied two shorthanded goals -- from Jack Ahcan and Clark Kuster -- to close to within one.
“We were playing our way and I thought we were playing a pretty solid game,” Brady said. “And then those two shorthanded goals, it’s self-inflicted. It’s not them doing anything too crazy. It’s probably us doing it to ourselves.”
Less than a minute after St. Cloud killed the penalty, Sam Hentges silenced the Bemidji faithful with his equalizer on a breakaway. Once four goals up, the Beavers were now tied at 4-all with 4:22 to play in regulation.
“You could just see (the momentum) mounting,” Serratore said. “It was one of those situations where it was all self-inflicted. And overall we played a pretty good game, so I don’t want to take anything away from that. But I think we all realize we have a 4-0 lead with 17 minutes to go. That game has got to be locked down. It’s got to be over. It’s disappointing. It’s disappointing for our fans. It’s disappointing for our guys. But now we’ve got to move on.”
Alex Adams opened the scoring on the 2019-20 season by burying a rebound at 3:09 of the second period for a 1-0 lead. Alex Ierullo fired the initial shot that was scooped up by Adams for the Grand Rapids native’s second career goal.
Ross Armour extended the lead less than two minutes later on a partial breakaway. The sophomore skated past two defenders to bag his first career goal.
Late in the frame, Brady sent BSU to the intermission with a 3-0 lead after his stick-side goal from the right faceoff circle.
In overtime, Tyler Vold momentarily appeared to have scored the game-winner with 18.4 seconds to play. However, the referee nearby immediately waved off the goal due to goalie interference by Armour in the crease. The nonconference game ended in a tie shortly thereafter.
There were positives to be taken away.
“I thought we had good puck pressure,” Serratore said. “It was a hard game in close quarters for both teams. We’re not in game shape yet. We’re in practice shape, but we’re not in game shape. … We were fatigued, as they were.”
The Beaver penalty kill unit picked up where it left from last season, when it ranked among the best in the country. The unit held SCSU 0-for-4 on the power play, with the BSU power play also finishing scoreless at 0-for-3.
Zach Driscoll earned the start in net and stopped 26 of 30 shots. St. Cloud State’s David Hrenak made 29 saves on 33 shots.
Bemidji State will return to the ice for the series finale with the Huskies at 6:07 p.m. Saturday as the Beavers attempt to erase Friday’s third period from their minds as soon as possible.
“(The third period) was one of those that we just don’t want to talk about again,” Serratore said. “You just want to put it in the books and leave it there.”
Bemidji State 4, No. 7 St. Cloud State 4 (OT)
SCSU 0 0 4 0 -- 4
BSU 0 3 1 0 -- 4
First period -- No scoring.
Second period -- 1, BSU, Adams (Ierullo, Vold), 3:09; 2, BSU, Armour (Somoza, Jubenvill), 4:58; 3, BSU, Brady (Miller, Muck), 16:24.
Third period -- 4, BSU, Brady (Harris, Miller), 0:26; 5, SCSU, Fitzgerald (N. Poehling, Perbix), 4:52; 6, SCSU, Ahcan (N. Poehling, Kuster), 10:01, SH; 7, SCSU, Kuster (Hentges, Perbix), 13:01, SH; 8, SCSU, Hentges (unassisted), 15:38.
Overtime -- No scoring.
Goalies (saves-shots) -- BSU, Driscoll (26-30); SCSU, Hrenak (29-33).