BEMIDJI, Minn. — Brent Walton’s first career hat trick, including his game-winning goal 12 seconds into overtime, lifted Western Michigan to a 4-3 victory over Bemidji State in nonconference action from John S. Glas Fieldhouse.
With the win, WMU remains unbeaten in non-league play (5-0-0) against College Hockey America opponents this season.
The Broncos trailed by two goals late in the game after BSU took a 3-2 lead on captain Andrew Murray’s tally at 12:53 of the third period. Walton pulled WMU within a goal with a deflection just under the crossbar on Jonathan Lupa’s shot at 17:30. Walton’s second goal was not credited immediately by the referee, but eventually counted after officials consulted with the goal judge.
The Beavers (8-7-0) opened a 2-0 lead in the first period, building a 14-7 advantage in shots. Matt Pope scored just 14 seconds in, slipping a backhander past Daniel Bellissimo. Luke Erickson added another even-strength goal on a one-timer with 2:45 left in the period.
WMU (9-7-1) rallied with a pair of second-period goals, as Brent Walton and Ryan Mahrle struck four minutes apart. Walton blasted a slapshot off a rebound in front of freshman goalie Matt Climie on the power play while Mahrle capitalized on a two-on-one rush.
“We knew coming in it was going to be a hard-fought game and that’s how it turned out,” said WMU coach Jim Culhane. “We gave up two quick ones but I’m proud of the way we responded to come back.”
The teams square off again Saturday night at Glas Fieldhouse, starting at 7:05 CST.
WMU was the only CCHA school in action Friday … Walton took over the CCHA goal-scoring lead with his 14th marker of the season. He was also named the game’s No. 1 star … Bemidji State entered as the nation’s seventh-highest scoring team …Western is 23-10-3 versus nonconference opponents over the past five seasons.