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MEN'S HOCKEY: Somoza scores late, but Beavers can’t match Bowling Green surge

The Bemidji State men’s hockey team started its weekend with a flourish Friday, slapping in a first-period power-play goal and playing up to its No. 17 national ranking early against Bowling Green at the Sanford Center.

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Bemidji State sophomore Eric Martin (11) scores in the first period against Bowling Green on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men’s hockey team started its weekend with a flourish Friday, slapping in a first-period power-play goal and playing up to its No. 17 national ranking early against Bowling Green at the Sanford Center.

The script flipped, though, in the second period, as the Falcons came out aggressively and attacked the Beavers by scoring two goals and adding another in the third period. That proved to be the game winner. Despite a bevy of late chances and a third-period goal of its own to inch closer, BSU could not overcome the deficit and fell 3-2.

“I think tonight, we just had a couple of defensive lapses,” forward Eric Martin said. “They capitalized on them, and we didn’t capitalize on our chances.”

Martin gave Bemidji State the early lead when he netted the power-play score late in the first at 19:54. That lead didn’t hold for long, as Bowling Green answered 1:21 into the second period on a Chrystopher Collin goal.

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Bemidji State sophomore Eric Martin (11) celebrates after scoring in the first period against Bowling Green on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

“It was nice to get a little sugar there on the power play, because I thought we had good puck movement,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “I thought we had some good looks. And it was nice to get rewarded there, because again, I thought we could have popped one or two before that.”

The Falcons (3-0-2, 1-0-0 CCHA) netted another at 19:44 to grasp their first lead of the game. They added the game-winning insurance score at 3:49 in the third. It wouldn’t be the knockout blow, though, as Ethan Somoza scored on a breakaway at 8:12 to breathe life into a somber Sanford Center crowd.

“It was tons of momentum for us,” Martin said. “I mean, there was probably like 10 minutes left in the game, so there’s still tons of time left for us to go out there. And I think we probably played most of the last 10 minutes in their zone. So we were working them down low, we just, I don’t know, couldn’t get a bounce.”

With the building alive again, the Beavers (3-4, 2-1 CCHA) jumped on every puck, pushing BGSU goalie Zack Rose to make save after save. He was more than up to the task, stopping 38 shots, more than double the 18-save output of BSU netminder Matthias Sholl.

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Bemidji State senior Ethan Somoza (9) scores in the third period against Bowling Green on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

“Honestly, just play the same way we did tonight (tomorrow), and that game could be totally different,” Serratore said. “I mean, the game could have been totally different today. So I’m not going to sit there and overthink stuff. … The bottom line was I thought we played a pretty good hockey game.”

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Despite the disappointment of doubling the Falcons in shots and failing to win or send the game to overtime, Bemidji State knows it played well enough to win. If the Beavers can play the same way Saturday in the rematch, they should have an excellent chance to split the series.

“I can’t ask much more out of our guys,” Serratore said. “... Their goalie played really well. What are you going to do? I mean, he made a lot of big-time saves. So a game that easily could have went our way, but it didn’t.”

BSU returns to the Sanford Center ice at 6:07 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30, for the rematch with Bowling Green.

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The Beavers take a timeout in the third period against Bowling Green on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Bowling Green 3, No. 17 Bemidji State 2

BGSU 0 2 1 -- 3

BSU 1 0 1 -- 2

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First period -- 1, BSU GOAL, Martin (Johnson, Zmolek), 19:54, PP.

Second period -- 2, BGSU GOAL, Collin (Craggs), 1:21; 3, BGSU GOAL, Norris (Burke), 19:44.

Third period -- 4, BGSU GOAL, Collin (Schneider, Parker), 3:49; 5, BSU GOAL, Somoza (Looft), 8:12.

Saves -- Sholl (BSU) 18; Rose (BGSU) 38.

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Bemidji State sophomore Lukas Sillinger (20) shoots in the first period against Bowling Green on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

110321.S.BP.BSUMHKY Ross Armour.jpg
Bemidji State senior Ross Armour (17) eyes the puck as it flies through the air in the second period against Bowling Green on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, 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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