ST. PAUL, Minn. — When reporters jokingly asked Shea Walters if his game-winning goal in overtime was his biggest of the season, the junior center smiled and laughed.
“It was my first goal of the season, thanks for bringing it up,” Walters said, getting a rise out of the media at the postgame news conference. Walters’ first goal of the season gave Bemidji State a 3-2 overtime win over Minnesota-Duluth in the Final Five quarterfinals Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.
The second-line center Walters went 35 games without scoring a goal. Still, he is a member of BSU’s second power-play unit. He does have 13 assists on the season and five of them were on the power play.
“My position on the power play is to be a puck distributor and get it down low to [Jamie] MacQueen,” Walters said.
BSU drew a tripping penalty on Brady Lamb 5:53 into overtime. The Beavers worked the puck around the offensive zone on the first shift of the power play and then it came to Walters at the point.
“They were cheating on MacQueen, which opened up a shot for me,” Walters said. “It was a nice win on the draw, got kicked out to Dan McIntyre, he made a nice pass over to me, I made a shot and fortunately it went in. I was just trying to get it on net as quick as possible.”
Walters fired a low slap shot that made it through traffic, past Justin Fontaine’s stick and past Bulldogs goaltender Kenny Reiter’s left skate at the 6:12 mark of overtime. Then, Walters stood in his place, arms in the air as his teammates mobbed him.
The goal was the eighth of Walters’ three seasons at BSU.
On a side note, defenseman Brad Hunt’s goal in the first period was just his third of the season, although he is a puck-moving defenseman with 17 assists, second most on the team.
“It was all [teammate] Darcy Findlay,” Hunt said. “He was out there raising heck for 30 seconds all over their D-men. He got the puck off the half wall and I was driving up the middle, faked the shot and froze the defender. I kept going to the middle and just threw a wrist shot and it went in. It was a good time to have that goal.”
The goal got BSU on the board after the midway point of the first period to knot it at one goal apiece.
The Beavers (15-17-5) still need two wins to make their third straight NCAA appearance because an automatic bid with a Final Five title is the only way BSU can get a berth.
UMD has already earned itself a spot in the tournament with a 22-10-6 record and is likely looking at a No. 3 seed, depending on how conference tournaments across the nation turn out.
Video: Bemidji State’s Shea Walters: