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MEN’S HOCKEY: BSU claws back for 2-2 tie, earns extra point in 3-on-3 OT

BEMIDJI -- Brad Johnson scored a game-tying, power-play goal in the third period to help the Bemidji State men's hockey team to a 2-2 tie Friday night with Northern Michigan. After a scoreless first overtime period, Ethan Somoza sent the Sanford ...

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The Beavers celebrate sophomore Brad Johnson’s (18) goal in the third period against Northern Michigan on Friday at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Brad Johnson scored a game-tying, power-play goal in the third period to help the Bemidji State men’s hockey team to a 2-2 tie Friday night with Northern Michigan. After a scoreless first overtime period, Ethan Somoza sent the Sanford Center crowd home happy by burying the winner in 3-on-3 overtime to secure two points in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings.

“There’s just a lot more open ice out there,” Somoza said of 3-on-3. “You want to have puck possession and you don’t want to force anything.”

Somoza’s goal at the 3:52 mark of 3-on-3 overtime may not count in the official stats, but it means a lot to the sophomore and the Beavers (14-12-5, 12-8-3-0 WCHA).

“They turned it over, (Dillon) Eichstadt made a good play on their defenseman and stripped the puck from him, came right to me and just deked the goalie and put it in,” Somoza said.

Both goals by the Wildcats (15-13-2, 14-7-2-0 WCHA) came shorthanded and off breakaways.

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“Both their goals were shorthanded and that doesn’t happen too often,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “That’s on us. They’ve got a good penalty kill. They’ve got an aggressive penalty kill, and obviously, there was a couple times when they got possession (that) they blew the zone.”

For the first shorthanded goal, Troy Loggins was on the receiving end of a long stretch pass, skating into the zone for the breakaway strike. Only two seconds remained on the penalty when NMU scored.

Just 50 seconds later, Charlie Combs netted an equalizer. The puck appeared to deflect off an NMU defenseman and past an unsuspecting Atte Tolvanen, making it 1-1 with 4:37 to play in the period.

About five minutes into the second period, Nick Cardelli received a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind.

The penalty marked the second straight game a Beaver was called for such an infraction. Aaron Miller served a one-game suspension due to a hit from behind last Saturday at Ferris State. He will be eligible to return Saturday, Feb. 16.

With the score still tied at 1-all entering the third, Griffin Loughran tallied the game’s second shorthanded goal on a breakaway at 6:51 of the final frame.

With about seven minutes to play, Johnson blasted a long-range shot on the power play to find the back of the net. The sophomore defenseman’s second career goal tied the game once more.

Following a scoreless overtime, Somoza’s goal handed BSU the extra league point.

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The Beavers gained one point on the Wildcats, but remain four points behind them in fifth. NMU and Lake Superior State, which beat Michigan Tech 3-1, are tied for third with 44 points.

The BSU penalty kill again held an opponent scoreless (0-for-3) on the power play. Including the five-minute penalty the Beavers killed, the unit has held opponents to 0-for-37 on the power play since the start of 2019.

The last goal the PK unit, which entered the night fifth in the nation by killing 86.79 percent of penalties, conceded came against Air Force on Dec. 30, 2018.

The Beavers will look to gain more points in the league standings when they face Northern Michigan in Saturday's series finale at 7:07 p.m.

Bemidji State 2, Northern Michigan 2 (BSU wins 3v3 OT)

NMU 1 0 1 0 -- 2

BSU 1 0 1 0 -- 2

First period -- 1, NMU, Loggins (Rockwood, Vermeulen), 14:33, SH; 2, BSU, Combs (Kirkup), 15:23.

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Second period -- No scoring.

Third period -- 3, NMU, Loughran (Nardi), 6:51, SH; 4, BSU, B. Johnson (SIllinger), 13:57, PP.

Overtime -- No scoring.

Goalies (saves-shots) -- BSU, Driscoll (16-18); NMU, Tolvanen (34-36).

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 sports@bemidjipioneer.com.
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