GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Bemidji State pounced on an untimely major penalty to blow open a deadlocked exhibition match against Manitoba, then coasted to a 10-4 win.
In the first game of the first Subway Holiday Classic at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, Bemidji earned the right to face the host North Dakota Fighting Sioux in the championship game at 8 p.m. on Saturday. The Bison will play Brown at 5 p.m. Saturday after the Bears fell 5-2 to North Dakota in the second game Friday night.
The Beavers got off to a slow start in the first period. Manitoba defenseman Barrett Labossiere opened the scoring at 8:06 with an unassisted goal. Bemidji answered with freshman center Andrew Murray’s goal at 12:09.
The Bison got goals from Paul Deniset and David Cameron to give Manitoba a 3-1 lead. But just before the period ended, the Beavers netted the first of their five power play goals when senior wing Jeff McGill scored at 19:14.
“Our special teams were really clicking,” Murray said. “When Jeff McGill got that goal, we got a boost from that and it seemed like it deflated them.”
In the second period, Bemidji defenseman Peter Jonsson tied the game 3-3 at 3:29 with a power play goal. But with the Bison on the power play, Manitoba defenseman Blake Forsyth was assessed a five-minute major for checking from behind. The Beavers capitalized, scoring three goals in a span of 2:49.
Freshman center Andrew Murray scored at the 10:00 and 11:26 marks to collect a hat trick. Senior wing Marty Goulet scored on the same power play at 12:49 to put Bemidji up 6-3. McGill put the Beavers up by four with his second goal at 16:33.
Labossiere scored his second unassisted goal at 17:43 when his bouncing dump-in from just past the red line eluded Bemidji goalie Grady Hunt. Junior wing Wade Chiodo restored the Beavers’ four-goal lead when he scored at the 19:24 mark.
“It was nice to get going offensively,” Murray said. “As a team, we’ve struggled a bit offensively this year.”
In the final period, Bemidji closed out the scoring with goals by sophomore wing Brendan Cook at 10:35 and freshman center Jean-Guy Gervais at 12:15.
Bemidji’s first line of McGill, Murray and Goulet accounted for six of the team’s 10 goals and 15 points on the night.
“Our first line is as legit as legit can be,” said coach Tom Serratore. “We just have to a couple more guys cranking and we’ll be fine.”
Regarding Saturday night’s game against the number-one Sioux, Serratore said, “We’re excited to be in the championship game. Obviously, it’s special for us to be taking on our brothers to the west. That’s what we call them.”