BEMIDJI, Minn. — Bemidji State’s pursuit of its first-ever College Hockey America regular-season championship remained alive for another day as the Beavers skated to a hard-fought 4-4 draw with CHA-leading Wayne State Friday at the John Glas Fieldhouse. John Grubb netted a hat trick for the Warriors to gain the tie.
Wayne State, however, came into this weekend series needing just two points from BSU to clinch. The Warriors will look to lock down the regular-season title tomorrow when the Warriors and Beavers wrap up their two-game set.
The game was even in about every way you can break it down — both teams scored a goal in the first, two goals in the second and a goal in the third, and neither team held more than a one-goal lead for more than five minutes. Shots were 39-36 in favor of the Warriors, but even at 34 at the end of regulation, and both teams drew five minor penalties.
BSU took advantage on special teams, however, converting on two of five power-play chances while holding the Warriors to 0-for-5 with the extra-man advantage.
After a slow start to a first period which would take nearly 40 minutes to complete, the Warriors drew first blood on John Grubb’s seventh goal of the season at the 13:34 mark. BSU answered quickly, however, as Bryce Methven took advantage of a hooking penalty on Wayne’s Marc St. Jean, tying the score with his seventh goal of the year at 17:29 of the first.
The teams took the 1-1 draw into the second period, where the teams combined for four goals. BSU picked up its first — and only — lead of the game just 1:57 into the period when Jared Hanowski netted his eighth of the season, even strength. The lead would stand for less than five minutes, as Jason Durbin picked up his 14th goal of the year at the 6:52 mark, then Grubb’s second goal of the night put the Warriors back on top, 3-2, at the 8:05 mark of the second.
Marty Goulet, who entered the game with a season-long three-game scoreless streak, evened the score at three goals apiece with his ninth goal of the year, a power-play tally at 11:14 of the second. The teams took the 3-3 tie into the third period.
Grubb completed his hat trick and put the Warriors ahead 4-3 just 2:14 into the third, beating Hunt over the right shoulder on a soft shot from the blue line for his ninth goal of the season.
Riley Riddell, who played a tremendous game for BSU, netted what would be the game-tying goal at 6:23 of the third period with helpers from Hanowski and Mark Phenow. Phenow played his 130th game for BSU, breaking the school’s all-time record for games by a defenseman.
Riddell had what appeared to be his second goal of the night and possible game-winner at 16:32 of the period, but the goal was waved off as the officials assessed BSU’s Wade Chiodo a high-sticking penalty a split-second before.
“It was a great game tonight,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “It was a strong third period by both teams and it could have gone either way. Obviously for us it was better off as a tie than a loss. Tomorrow should be interesting with us in the title hunt and with Wayne State needing just one point to clinch the title.”
Grady Hunt saved 35 shots for BSU, including five in overtime, including a point-blank stuff of Wayne State’s Chris Vail on a one-on-one breakaway, moving his record to 11-9-4 on the year. After starting 8-0-2 against CHA competition, Hunt is winless in his last three starts against the CHA but is still 10-3-5 in his last 18 starts against league foes. David Guerrera saved 32 shots and earned the tie for the Warriors.
Wayne State moves to 16-11-4 and retains its CHA lead with 26 points (12-2-3), while Bemidji State moves to 12-14-5 overall and remains in second place with 22 points (8-4-4). Wayne State needs just a tie Saturday to clinch the CHA regular-season championship. The teams wrap their two-game series at the Glas; opening faceoff is slated for 7:05 p.m. Central time.