MEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers nab 3-1 victory over Michigan Tech in Game 1

Bemidji State scored three unanswered goals to defeat Michigan Tech 3-1 in Game 1 of a WCHA quarterfinal series at the Sanford Center.

031721.S.BP.BSUMHKY Zach Driscoll.jpg
Bemidji State goalie Zach Driscoll (33) watches the puck go by in the third period against Michigan Tech on Friday at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Conceding an early goal proved to be no obstacle for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team Friday night.

The Beavers scored three unanswered goals to defeat Michigan Tech 3-1 in Game 1 of a Western Collegiate Hockey Association quarterfinal series at the Sanford Center.

Alex Ierullo netted the game-winner for fourth-seeded BSU (14-8-3) and goaltender Zach Driscoll totaled 33 saves to keep the fifth-seeded Huskies (17-11-1) at bay.

“It really had that playoff atmosphere,” Ierullo said. “There’s not too many fans in the building, but the players came to play and it was a really good Game 1.”

“I thought our guys played a really patient game,” Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said. “(The Huskies) want to stretch, they want to move up the zone, and I thought we did a pretty good job of backing up at times. They played with a lot of speed.”


Tech forward Brian Halonen bucketed an early goal on a nifty toe drag just 2:33 into the game.

The Beavers responded with three unanswered goals, including two in the first period, to take a 2-1 lead to the first intermission.

Brendan Harris fed Aaron Miller at the doorstep for the tying goal at 8:00 of the first. Ierullo tipped in Tyler Jubenvill’s booming shot from the point for the go-ahead tally with 5:38 to go.

“That first goal was on me,” Ierullo said, referring to the Tech goal. “That was a bad change on my part. Luckily, the boys responded very well. We were able to get some quick ones, and it’s obviously better to play with the lead.”

With the Huskies on the first power play of the game early in the second, Driscoll delivered the save of the game in denying a give-and-go from point-blank range.

“I don’t know if it was the save of the year, but it was right up there,” Serratore said. “He was our best player tonight and he made some key saves at the right time.”

031721.S.BP.BSUMHKY Owen Sillinger.jpg
Bemidji State junior Owen Sillinger (12) controls the puck near the Michigan Tech net in the second period of Friday’s game at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)


After killing the penalty, BSU added some insurance. Lukas Sillinger extended the lead to 3-1 at 11:42 of the frame, scoring from a tight angle after brother Owen Sillinger hit him with a pass from behind the cage.

The game was Owen Sillinger’s first in a month after missing nine games due to injury.

“It was great having Owen back,” Serratore said. “Owen’s a horse and we rely on him in a lot of different situations. We inserted him in those situations tonight and he didn’t miss a beat.”

Tech came up empty on two more power-play chances over the final 20 minutes and change, finishing 0-for-3 on the night. BSU ended 0-for-1 on its lone advantage.

Driscoll and the PK unit slammed the door shut on the Huskies in the final frame to win the opening contest of the best-of-three playoff series.

Blake Pietila made 23 saves on 26 shots in the opposing goal for Michigan Tech.

Bemidji State can complete the series sweep and advance to the WCHA semifinals with a win Saturday night back at the Sanford Center. Puck drop is set for 6:07 p.m.

“It’s such a dogfight,” Serratore said of first-round playoff series. “Right now we can breathe a little bit, but come tomorrow, Game 2 is just going to be one of those games which we’ve been in many, many times.”


No. 15 Bemidji State 3, Michigan Tech 1

MTU 1 0 0 -- 1

BSU 2 1 0 -- 3

First period -- 1, MTU, Halonen (Ashbrook, Nardella), 2:33; 2, BSU, Miller (Harris, Looft), 8:00; 3, BSU, Ierullo (Jubenvill, L. Sillinger), 14:22.

Second period -- 4, BSU, L. Sillinger (O. Sillinger, Ierullo), 11:42.

Third period -- No scoring.

Goalies (saves-shots) -- BSU, Driscoll (33-34); MTU, Pietila (23-26).


Austin Monteith is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of Bloomington, Ill., he is a 2015 graduate of Butler University. Follow him on Twitter at @amonteith92. Contact the Pioneer sports department at
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