ST CLOUD, Minn. — A night after playing what could have been the biggest home game in their short history as a Division I program, the Bemidji State Beavers were forced to play the second game of the home-and-home series with top-ranked St. Cloud State at the National Hockey Center Saturday.
Let’s just say this: after being manhandled 11-3 in front of 6,252 witnesses, the Beavers might want to stay home for Christmas.
The Huskies won Friday in Bemidji 4-2 in a tightly-played hockey game in front of a very energetic Bemidji State crowd, but came out and used the Olympic sheet of ice at the NHC to their advantage as they skated by the Beavers without much of a challenge en route to their largest margin of victory since a 10-1 exhibition drubbing of Canadian school Brandon in their first game of the year.
Jon Cullen had a hat trick. Ryan Malone added two goals and two assists, and freshman defensemen Matt Gens and junior forward Mike Walsh each chipped in with two goals as St. Cloud improved its record to 15-2-1 on the year.
“We came after them right off the bat,” said St. Cloud head coach Craig Dahl. “Last night they wouldn’t drop, we had plenty of chances but we didn’t score as much.
“Tonight they were dropping in for us.”
The game was tight for the majority of the first 20 minutes. Cullen opened the scoring just 1:15 in but Travis Barnes scored just over a minute later to tie the game at one for Bemidji. The Huskies built a 3-1 lead on goals by Slovakian import Peter Szabo and Gens within the next four minutes but Bryce Methven got Bemidji within a goal again at 3-2 when he one-timed home a power-play goal.
The Beavers had a two-man advantage in the zone at the time of Methven’s goal, however, as Husky defensemen Ryan LaMere struggled to get to the bench after separating his shoulder on a play in the neutral zone.
LaMere will be evaluated on Monday but said he is likely out for at least three weeks.
“That was the most pain I have ever felt,” said LaMere, who separated the same shoulder last year. “I got to the bench and passed out because it hurt so bad.”
The teams went to the dressing room with the score 3-2. Dahl made a goaltending change to start the second and the Huskies responded by giving new goaltender Dean Weasler a three-goal cushion before the period was even two minutes old.
Matt Hendricks shoveled a puck under Grady Hunt and Gens scored his second on a shot that went off Hunt’s side and in. Donnie Morgan replaced Hunt in the Beaver net after that but didn’t fare too well, either.
Cullen notched his second on the power play to close out the scoring in the second period, and the Huskies would score five times in the third to close the deal.
“It was nice to follow the loss in Colorado (5-1 to Colorado College last Saturday) with two good wins,” said Cullen, whose last hat trick came at Minnesota last year. “We were able to score a bunch of goals and hopefully get some confidence back.”
One concern for the Huskies entering the weekend was where the scoring was coming from. Over the last three games — including Friday night — the only line to get on the board was the top line of Mark Hartigan, Nate DiCasmirro and Hendricks. That wasn’t the case Saturday night, however, as the top line only accounted for one of the 11 goals.
“Our line hadn’t had an even-strength goal in a long time,” said Malone, who skates with Cullen and Joe Motzko. “We were getting frustrated last night but tonight we got a couple bounces and things went our way, so it was nice that everything worked out and we were able to get on the board again.”
11 times, in fact.