BEMIDJI -- A slew of third-period penalties came back to haunt the Bemidji State men’s hockey team in a 5-2 loss to Lake Superior State in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series finale Wednesday at the Sanford Center. The No. 20 Lakers (14-6-3, 8-5-0 WCHA) scored twice in 17 seconds midway through the third period to put the game away.
The No. 17 Beavers (11-8-3, 6-5-1 WCHA) couldn’t stay out of the box, especially in a hectic final 20 minutes. They racked up 18 penalty minutes from nine penalties in the third period alone, finishing with 28 minutes from 14 infractions for the game.
“The third period was a disaster,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “It was self-inflicted. We deserved what we got.”
Ashton Calder netted a hat trick for the Lakers.
LSSU secured four out of six points from the series, along with a point earned from Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss.
The Beavers, currently sixth in the standings with 18 points, can now finish no higher than fourth in the WCHA. BSU could match Lake State with 24 points by week’s end, but the Lakers now own the tiebreaker having earned more points from this week’s head-to-head series.
The teams exchanged a pair of power-play goals 1:50 apart in the first period.
Louis Boudon struck first for LSSU five minutes into the frame.
Aaron Miller answered shortly thereafter when he fired from the slot to knot the game back up. Alex Ierullo earned his team-leading 14th assist on the play.
Calder scored on a rebound to regain a 2-1 lead for LSSU at 8:12 of the second period.
Eric Martin was stationed wide of the net in the left circle with 2:41 left in the second when he buried a one-timer off a dish from Lukas Sillinger. Ethan Somoza also earned an assist on the Beavers’ second power-play goal of the day.
The game remained tied through the first 10:57 of the third period, but already Bemidji State was struggling to stay out of the penalty box.
Both teams were at full strength when Lake State capitalized off the rush on a go-ahead goal by Jacob Bengtsson with 9:03 to play. Another even-strength goal 17 seconds later, this one ripped into the top corner by Calder, suddenly made it 4-2.
The Beavers killed two more penalties, including a brief 5-on-3, but those shorthanded minutes limited the time they had to mount a comeback.
“You can’t get into a rhythm when you’re shorthanded,” Serratore said.
Calder completed his hat trick with an empty-netter with 2:30 left.
Simmering tensions between the teams erupted in the closing moments when a scuffle ensued that resulted in seven penalties. Sillinger was called for cross-checking, and the teams also evenly split six roughing penalties.
“Things got a little bit out of hand there at the end,” Somoza said. “It is what it is. We were pissed off, but we’ve got to move on and start thinking about Huntsville in the next couple of days here.”
The Beavers converted on their two power-play chances, and held Lake State to 1-for-9 on the power play.
Bemidji State will look to clinch the No. 4 seed and home-ice advantage in the WCHA quarterfinals when Alabama Huntsville comes to town this weekend.
The Beavers need to secure at least two points out of six from the series to earn the No. 4 seed. If BSU, Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech each finish with 20 points, BSU would win the tiebreaker based on head-to-head points percentage. NMU would then be the No. 5 seed and Tech the No. 6 seed.
The series with UAH begins Saturday, March 6, with a 4:07 p.m. puck drop at the Sanford Center. The regular-season finale is set for 2:07 p.m. on Sunday, March 7.
“We have six big points on the line here coming up if we want to try to get home ice,” Somoza said. “We’ve got to move on and we’ve got to focus ahead here.”
No. 20 Lake Superior State 5, No. 17 Bemidji State 2
LSSU 1 1 3 -- 5
BSU 1 1 0 -- 2
First period -- 1, LSSU, Boudon (Veillette, Kaelble), 5:00, PP; 2, BSU, Miller (Ierullo), 6:50, PP.
Second period -- 3, LSSU, Calder (Oliver, Bengtsson), 8:12; 4, BSU, Martin (L. Sillinger, Somoza), 17:19, PP.
Third period -- 5, LSSU, Bengtsson (Posa, Oliver), 10:57; 6, LSSU, Calder (Boudon, Veillette), 11:14; 7, LSSU, Calder (Boudon), 17:30, EN.
Goalies (saves-shots) -- BSU, Driscoll (25-29); LSSU, Mitens (36-38).