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MEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers sweep Lake State 5-1, regain home-ice edge

The Sanford Center has been a house of horrors for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team this season. That is, it was before this weekend.

011222.S.BP.BSUMHKY Tyler Kirkup goal celebration with Alex Ierullo.jpg
Bemidji State’s Tyler Kirkup (27) and Alex Ierullo (14) celebrate Kirkup’s second-period goal against Lake Superior State on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- The Sanford Center has been a house of horrors for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team this season.

That is, it was before this weekend. The Beavers drove a Mack truck through that theory once again on Saturday, flushing Lake Superior State 5-1 to pair with an identical win from Friday. Saturday’s victory brought the Beavers to 12-10 (10-4 CCHA) and, perhaps more importantly, their home record to 4-7.

“It's great,” freshman goaltender Mattias Sholl said. “We didn't have the best record at home, so it's nice to reward the fans. It's just huge for us to build off the wins that we're getting, and trying to do better at home, honestly. We have to.”

011222.S.BP.BSUMHKY Mattias Sholl.jpg
Bemidji State goalie Mattias Sholl (30) makes a save in the third period against Lake Superior State on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

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BSU started the scoring with a goal from Elias Rosén at 4:42 of the first period. Ross Armour added on with a late score at 18:57, but Lake State (11-12-1, 7-9 CCHA) quickly countered with a Miroslav Mucha goal at 19:27.

But that was the last gasp from the Lakers, and Bemidji State got back to the good vibes in the second period. Tyler Kirkup tickled the twine at 9:41 off assists from Owen Sillinger and Alex Ierullo, with Lukas Sillinger adding the Beavers’ fourth goal at 15:52.

Jere Vaisanen capped it off with a fifth at 15:12 in the third, ensuring BSU got its first home sweep of the season.

011222.S.BP.BSUMHKY Jere Vaisanen.jpg
The Beavers celebrate Jere Vaisanen’s (16) goal in the third period against Lake Superior State on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

“I thought our guys really made strides this weekend,” head coach Tom Serratore said. “I thought we played better tonight than we did last night. We did a lot of good things.”

Scoring 10 goals in one weekend certainly qualifies as a positive development. So does sweeping the season series with a team, which BSU did against LSSU.

“The last two games obviously went really well,” Kirkup said. “We wanted to get back on track, get back in the win column. After the 5-1 win yesterday, we knew they were going to bring it. So we just prepared as much as we could, and then we tried to bring it tonight, and it worked out in our favor.”

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011222.S.BP.BSUMHKY Tyler Kirkup.jpg
Bemidji State senior Tyler Kirkup (27) shoots in the first period against Lake Superior State on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

The sweep worked as a palate cleanser as the Beavers prepare for the stretch run. They have 12 more CCHA games to play, but any given game could make a crucial difference in the conference standings or earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

“I think we played some really good hockey,” Sholl said. “Offensively, we got 10 goals. So that's really good to have all our lines rolling like that. And defensively, we kept the puck out of the net pretty well. So definitely one of our best weekends. We can always improve, though.”

Bemidji State will now head back on the road to face Bowling Green. The Beavers split their home series with the Falcons in October. They’d prefer to keep both wins to themselves this time.

“I thought our guys worked their way back into the win column this weekend by their effort,” Serratore said. “That's how it starts. And then I think once you win some games with your effort, confidence kicks in. And hopefully that can carry forward. But it was a good weekend overall.”

BSU will face BGSU at 6:07 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14, and Saturday, Jan. 15, in Bowling Green, Ohio.

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011222.S.BP.BSUMHKY Ethan Somoza happy.jpg
Bemidji State senior Ethan Somoza (9) celebrates after Ross Armour scored in the first period against Lake Superior State on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Bemidji State 5, Lake Superior State 1

LSSU 1 0 0 -- 1

BSU 2 2 1 -- 5

First period -- 1, BSU GOAL, Rosén (Ierullo, O. Sillinger), 4:42; 2, BSU GOAL, Armour (Rosén, Somoza), 18:57; 3, LSSU GOAL, Mucha (Borshyov, Tritt), 19:27.

Second period -- 4, BSU GOAL, Kirkup (O. Sillinger, Ierullo), 9:41, PP; 5, BSU GOAL, L. Sillinger (Ierullo), 15:52.

Third period -- 6, BSU GOAL, Vaisanen (Jouppi, Martin), 15:12

Saves -- Sholl (BSU) 21; Eisele (LSSU) 37.

011222.S.BP.BSUMHKY Lukas Sillinger.jpg
Bemidji State sophomore Lukas Sillinger (20) battles for the puck in the second period against Lake Superior State on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

011222.S.BP.BSUMHKY Elias Rosen goal celebration.jpg
The Beavers celebrate Elias Rosen’s (28) first-period goal against Lake Superior State on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

011222.S.BP.BSUMHKY Ross Armour.jpg
Bemidji State senior Ross Armour (17) fights for puck possession in the first period against Lake Superior State on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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It was another perfect Sunday with clear skies and comfortable temperatures on Garfield Lake. Thirty-three racers and crews filled the pits, and the oval track was surrounded by hundreds of fans.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.