BEMIDJI -- There was a little extra something in the sound the Sanford Center crowd made following Nick Leitner’s goal Saturday night. The moment not only completed a third-period rally in a 2-2 tie for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team, but also marked the first collegiate goal for the Bemidji native.
Does it get any better than that for a Lumberjack making his Beaver debut?
“No it doesn’t it,” said Leitner, a freshman defenseman who played three seasons in the USHL following his graduation from Bemidji High School in 2016. “Especially with family and friends in the stands. It’s pretty great.”
Leitner’s goal with 5:36 to play in regulation capped a two-goal third period for the Beavers, who trailed No. 7 St. Cloud State 2-0 entering the frame. Though the game ended in a tie for the second straight night, Saturday’s will sit better with BSU than Friday’s when the team let a 4-0 lead slip away in the third period of an eventual 4-4 tie.
“It was a tale of two different nights,” Beavers head coach Tom Serratore said. “We stubbed our toe last night obviously. I don’t want to talk about that anymore. After this weekend, it’s over. But I thought we responded.”
Bemidji State played most of the game without top-line center Brendan Harris once the junior departed with an apparent leg injury after crashing into the boards several minutes into the first period.
“We’re down 2-0 going into the third against a pretty darn good hockey team,” Serratore said. “And when you factor in what happened last night -- and then we lose our best player besides -- our guys obviously could have wilted and they didn’t. We stuck with it, got some big goals and it was quite an entertaining game. I’m really proud of the effort. I just thought the guys showed a gutty performance.”
Following a scoreless opening 36 minutes, SCSU struck twice in the final four minutes of the second period. Nick Poehling scored the first on a laser of a shot from the slot at 16:10 of the frame.
The Huskies (0-0-2, 0-0-0 NCHC) then took to their lone power play of the game late in the period. On the man advantage, Easton Brodzinski tipped in a pass towards the slot from Sam Hentges for the goal with 46 seconds to play in the second.
Trailing 2-0 heading into the third, the Beavers (0-0-2, 0-0-0 WCHA) flipped the script from Friday. Owen Sillinger tallied the first of two unanswered goals in the period when he cleaned up after Nick Cardelli with a goal off the rebound five minutes into the third.
BSU came up empty on its sole power-play chance of the game midway through the third. But needing a tying goal with the clock winding down, Leitner came through with his shot from the right circle that snuck past Huskies netminder David Hrenak.
“I just put it on net and saw it trickle through,” Leitner said. “And when it got to the back of the net, I couldn’t really believe it. I was just full of excitement.”
Junior Hank Johnson made his first start in net since last December, picking up 30 saves on 32 shots. Hrenak stopped 39 of 41 shots for St. Cloud State.
Though the result was the same, Saturday’s tie stung a lot less than Friday’s. It also rids the team of the sour taste in its mouth heading into the bye week.
“It was not a loss last night. I even have to quit saying that,” Serratore said. “We lost the lead but we still tied the game. Last night would have been a lot more sour if we would have lost the game. I just think when you factor in how we gave up a 4-0 lead last night, psychologically that’s tough on you. It can be tough on you. The way we responded in the third period (tonight), it eliminates any type of negative thought on that game.”
The Beavers will have next weekend off before traveling west down Highway 2 for a nonconference series Oct. 25-26 with another NCHC opponent in North Dakota.
Bemidji State 2, No. 7 St. Cloud State 2 (OT)
SCSU 0 2 0 0 -- 2
BSU 0 0 2 0 -- 2
First period -- No scoring.
Second period -- 1, SCSU, N. Poehling (J. Poehling), 16:10; 2, SCSU, Brodzinski (Hentges, Fitzgerald), 19:13, PP.
Third period -- 3, BSU, Sillinger (Cardelli, Ierullo), 5:02; 4, BSU, Leitner (Sjodahl, Zmolek), 14:24.
Overtime -- No scoring.
Goalies (saves-shots) -- BSU, H. Johnson (30-32); SCSU, Hrenak (39-41).