MANKATO, Minn. — Overtime hasn’t been a stranger to either one of these teams so far, and Friday night was no different.
Bemidji State (0-1-4 overall) and Minnesota State (0-3-2 overall) skated to a 1-1 tie in a defensive-minded game. So far, each of BSU’s five games has gone into overtime, with four ending in a tie. MSU has played in overtime each of the past three games as well.
“What the heck are you going to do?” said Beavers coach Tom Serratore. “We’re playing good hockey. All I can say is we are entertaining. We’re playing hard, we’re competing, we’re playing well defensively, and I can’t be any prouder of our effort.”
BSU was aided with a tremendous performance in net as freshman Kelly Shields stopped 28 of 29 shots, including the only shot of overtime. Maverick goaltender Jason Jensen was equally impressive in net, stopping 19 of the 20 shots he saw.
The Beavers jumped out with heavy pressure and dominated the game early on. They also took the lead early in the first period at the 1:11 mark.
On the power play, BSU’s Andrew Murray got the puck, beat MSU defenseman Jon Dubel, and got a shot off in front of Jensen. Jensen stopped the initial shot, but Beaver defenseman Peter Jonsson jumped up on the play and put the rebound over Jensen’s left pad. The goal, Jonsson’s first of the year, put the Beavers up 1-0.
Jensen kept his squad in the game with huge saves later in the first. He stoned senior Marty Goulet’s pointblank shot in the slot. With only four minutes left in the period, he came up with a bigger save as he stopped Myles Kuharski’s wrist shot from the left circle with his blocker.
MSU came out in the second and played a much-improved period, which led to the game-tying goal.
With BSU’s Ben Lindell off for obstruction-tripping, the Mavericks got a power-play goal of their own. Defenseman Joe Bourne started the play for MSU as he passed from the top of the slot to teammate Grant Stevenson in the left faceoff circle. Stevenson then passed the puck cross-ice through the crease, and junior Shane Joseph tipped the puck past Shields. Joseph’s third goal of the season came at 10:18 of the period.
The Beavers came close to reclaiming the lead less than a minute later. Freshman Ryan Huddy raced down the left side of the Maverick zone and fired a laser shot past Jensen. However, the puck clanged off the right post and bounced harmlessly away.
The Mavericks found bad luck against them too. Only moments after Huddy’s close call, it appeared as if Dubel had a goal for MSU. With Shields out of position, Dubel took a shot from the top of the slot that was headed for the empty left side of the net. However, BSU defenseman Anders Olsson, positioned in the crease, got his skate in the way to bail his goaltender out.
In the third, the Mavericks came close to taking the lead on several occasions but could not beat Shields.
7:37 into the period, MSU’s Cole Bassett led a two-on-one rush for the Minnesota State. He passed to freshman Kyle Peto on his right, and Peto fired a slapshot on net. But Shields stood strong and made the save.
Shields also stopped MSU’s Jake Brenk up close at 12:07, and then shutdown Peter Runkel on a backdoor play with about three minutes left in regulation.
Overtime was a close five minutes, with neither team getting quality scoring chances. After the game, Bemidji State seemed to be upbeat despite tying for the fourth time this season.
“I can’t be any happier with our team,” Serratore said, “and if we would have gotten the right bounce, we would have won the game.”
“I thought we played well,” Shields said. “We can’t seem to buy a win, though. This is unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”
On the other side of the ice, the Mavericks seemed subdued with their effort in the tie. This point was emphasized with a 20-minute closed-door meeting after the game.
“We’re just doing some things, or not doing some things, that you have to do to be successful,” said MSU coach Troy Jutting. “We have to score goals, and in order to score goals, you got to have the desire to get your tail in there to make plays. I don’t think that we’re doing that very well right now.”
“We had wide-open shots where we hit the goalie right in the chest three or four times tonight,” Jutting continued. “That’s just not having the composure to make a play and put the puck by the goalie. Jensen made some very nice saves because their kids made some moves and forced him to make a save, where we had the same opportunities and just fired it right into (Shields).”
Goaltending and defense were hot topics in the game for both sides.
“We’ve put a strong emphasis on defense this year,” Shields said, “and guys have been working really hard on it. We’ve been dropping in front of shots, filling lanes, basically shutting them down on our goal, and it’s been working well on us. We got a great group of guys here that really support us.”
Shields stepped in for the Beavers while injured starter Grady Hunt stayed home with a groin pull.
“Jensen played well, and Kelly played well,” Serratore said. “The goaltenders both did what they’re supposed to do for their team.”
The two teams will finish their nonconference series Saturday night with game time set for 7:05 p.m.
And maybe, just maybe, one of the teams will be able to pick up the win that has evaded both clubs so far.