BEMIDJI, Minn. — Bemidji State rallied from a two-goal deficit at the first intermission, picking up single goals in the second and third and riding a strong night from starting goaltender Grady Hunt to earn a 2-2 draw with Findlay Saturday night at John Glas Fieldhouse.
The Oilers tried to take control early, as Russ Kelley scored unassisted on Findlay’s first shot on goal of the night just 27 seconds into the first period. They jumped to a 2-0 lead at the 15:04 mark of the first period, as Aaron Weegar beat Hunt for his fourth goal of the year with assists from Christian Olson and Nick Udovicic.
From there, however, Hunt was a rock and Findlay would be held scoreless as Bemidji assembled its rally.
After Findlay built its 2-0 lead, it took BSU more than 20 minutes to finally crack the scoreboard. Anders Olsson scored on a power-play bomb from near the top of the faceoff circles for his second goal of the year to get BSU on the board, 1-0, at the 17:24 mark of the second period.
BSU got the eventual game-tying goal at 12:42 of the third period, as captain Mark Phenow picked up his first goal of the year — and first since Jan. 12, 2001, against Air Force — with helpers from Says Phrakonkham and Brendan Cook.
BSU dominated its end of the ice in the overtime period, getting excellent scoring opportunities, but the Oilers rode a stellar performance by Kevin Fines, last year’s CHA Rookie of the Year, to preserve the tie. Fines made numerous huge saves to keep Findlay in the game, including several point-blank opportunities over the course of the game and two breakaway chances in overtime. He finished with 39 saves and saw his record go to 2-4-2 for the year.
“It was a great game,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “We came back and fought hard to get the two goals. We had our chances to win in overtime but came up short, but it was a perfect ending to the two-game series for both teams. It would have been a shame for either team to lose.”
Hunt saw his record remain even at 6-6-2, but he remains unbeaten against CHA opposition at 4-0-2. He entered the weekend leading the league in winning percentage and goals against average in conference games only.
“Their team came out real strong,” Hunt said of the Oilers, “but our guys came back and tied the game up. I give their goalie a lot of credit in overtime. He had some big saves to end the game with a tie.”
BSU improved to 6-5-1 all-time against Findlay, 4-1-1 on home ice in Bemidji.
Bemidji State improved to 7-10-3 overall with the tie and moved into a tie with Niagara for third place in the CHA standings with 10 points (4-2-2). Findlay moved to 8-11-1 on the year and remain fifth in the CHA standings, a point back of Niagara and BSU (4-5-1, nine points).