STEVENS POINT, Wis. — Despite a significant shot disadvantage, ninth-ranked Wisconsin-Stevens Point was able to rely on some timely scoring and 41 saves from sophomore goalie Marcus Paulson to hold on and defeat No. 15 Bethel 4-3.
The Pointers struck first as at the midway point of the first period forward Taylor Guay was able to beat the Bethel defense down the right side. Royals netminder Patrick Kiely made one of his 22 saves on the initial shot, but Brett Coburn poked the puck in to give the Pointers a lead they would never relinquish.
Though Bethel applied a significant amount of pressure in the period Paulson would turn away all 21 shots he faced and the Pointers would carry the 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Stevens Point would extend their lead at the 7:37 mark of the second. Breaking in on a 2-on-1, forward Sean Fish would beat Kiely five-hole to give the Pointers a two goal advantage.
Bethel would strike back just over two minutes later however as Royals forward Ryan Adams would fire a shot Paulson couldn’t get a handle on and forward Kevin Broten was able to find the puck in the ensuing pileup and lift it over a sprawling Paulson.
The Pointers would extend their lead at the 13:17 as shortly after killing a penalty, Pointer forward Josh Calleja turned a loose puck into the neutral zone into an odd-man rush. Carrying a defender deep down the right side, Calleja slid the puck across the top of the crease to Russell Law who easily beat Kiely to once again put Stevens Point on top by two.
The lead would extend to 4-1 just over two minutes later. On the power play, Pointer forward Brett Beckfeld shot a relatively innocent looking wrist-shot from the high slot that surprised Kealy and snuck just inside the post.
Another Pointer goal likely would have put the Royals away for good, but it would be Bethel who would round out the second period scoring. Taking advantage of a power play opportunity of their own, forward Steve Eastman would find some space in the low slot and get off a hard wrister that beat Paulson up high, cutting the score to 4-2 with only 14 seconds left in the period.
After a wild five-goal second period the third period looked like it was going to be more of the same. Only 1:18 into the period the Royals scored a goal that apparently cut deficit to one, but after referee consultation with the goal judge it was ruled the net was off before the puck crossed the goal line.
The non-goal turned what could have been a huge momentum-swing for the Royals into a fairly stagnant period until at the 12:37 mark they were able to score again – and this time it counted. Again on the power play, Eastman would get his second goal of night as after Paulson stopped a shot from Jeff Balvin, Eastman batted the rebound in out of the air.
The period would come to a standstill until the Pointers made a mistake that could have proven fatal. With 2:39 to play, Stevens Point defenseman Nick Bydal was assessed a 5:00 major and game misconduct for a check from behind, ensuring the Royals would finish the game on the power play.
Unfortunately for Bethel, they were not able to get much of anything on Paulson in that span and the Pointers would hold on for a 4-3 victory.
The win runs Stevens Point’s record to 3-1 on the season while dropping Bethel’s to 1-3.