ST. PAUL, Minn. — Fourth-seeded Bethel beat St. Thomas for the first time in 33 games Monday night, then won the mini-game to advance to the MIAC championship this weekend.
Bethel (12-14-1) won the regularly scheduled game 5-3, then edged the Tommies 1-0 in the mini-game on UST’s home ice at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
Bryan Peltier scored the series winner 1:57 into the mini-game after Mike Marshall completed a hat trick by scoring the game-winning goal in the 5-3 victory.
St. Thomas, which won Sunday’s series opener 8-3, needed a tie or victory Monday to win the series. The score was tied 3-3 late in the game when Marshall scored a power-play goal — his third goal of the game — with just 1:48 remaining .
After Peltier’s goal, the Toms appeared to score a tying goal with 3:07 to play, but the goal was disallowed as the official ruled that it was kicked into the net.
The Tommies pulled goalie Brad Moore with 1:30 left and had some chances, but eventually surrendered an empty-net goal with two seconds left.
Tony Lawrence had two goals and an assist and Eric Wenkus had a goal and an assist for the Tommies, who missed the playoff finals for just the second time in the 16-year history of the format. It’s also the second year in a row the Toms lost in the MIAC playoffs in a mini-game — a penalty shot by Concordia gave the Cobbers a 1-0 mini-game win in the playoff finals in 2000.
Royals’ freshman goalie Steve Witkowski stopped all 11 shots in the mini-game after turning back 29 of 32 shots in the regulation game.
The defeat ends the Tommies’ season at 15-9-3, while Bethel plays third-seeded St. John’s in the championship series. St. John’s hosts both games, at 7 p.m. Friday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. The winner gets an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III national championship.