DETROIT — Bill Wilkinson appeared to downplay Wayne State’s offensive woes Friday night after his Warriors were shut out in back-to-back games, but considering just how snakebit the Warriors were Saturday against Bemidji State in the first period alone, the veteran coach’s analysis might not have been that far off.
The Warriors were stymied in the first by a series of bad bounces and BSU goalie Matt Climie, who continued his stellar play from Friday night. Climie made 14 strong first-period saves, as the Bemidji senior showcased his quick glove hand two times, protected his net on three pileups in front, stopped Bryan Olds on a partial breakaway, and made a sliding kick-save on a hard one-timer from Jason Baclig.
By the time WSU finally solved Climie midway through the second, the Beavers had scored four times en route to a 4-2 win at the Michigan State Fairgrounds.
“I told the guys afterwards that if they play like that all the time, they’re going to win hockey games,” Wilkinson said. “You have to give Climie his due, because he played fabulous against us. We won’t face goaltending like that every weekend.”
Climie made 29 saves in the game, as the Beavers were outshot by more than a 2-to-1 margin, 31-14. And the Wayne State coaches and players weren’t the only ones thinking BSU (5-4-3, 3-2-3 CHA) escaped with a win that moved them into sole possession of second place in the CHA behind league-leading Niagara .
“The bottom line is that we outgoaltended them,” said BSU head coach Tom Serratore. “We got four goals tonight and we shouldn’t have. I’m sure (WSU) wants to have some of those goals back.”
BSU’s Luke Erickson struck twice in the first period, including a textbook shorthanded effort on a perfectly-executed 3-on-1 break from Chris Peluso and Blaine Jarvis that left WSU goalie Brett Bothwell helpless.
The Beavers added another shorthanded goal on Matt Pope’s long slap shot from the right side just 1:01 into the second, and Ryan Miller’s power play goal less than three minutes later in the period ultimately chased Bothwell from the nets.
After playing brilliantly at times in last night’s 1-0 loss to the Beavers, Bothwell, a freshman, gave up four goals on 14 shots and was pulled just 4:42 into the second in favor of senior Will Hooper. But at that point, the game’s only undecided element whether the Warriors could break a pair of disturbing streaks.
Derek Baychinski accomplished that by firing home a rebound off a Jeff Castier slap shot from the point on the power play at 12:47 of the second, ending a WSU scoring drought that spanned four games and lasted 162:31 — which remarkably isn’t even Wayne State’s longest such streak this season.
The power play marker also broke a huge WSU slump against tough BSU penalty-killing — before Baychinski’s tally, WSU was 0-for-57 with the man advantage against the Beavers dating back to Nov. 23, 2004.
Matt Krug added a goal at 16:32 of the second to pull an energized WSU team within two, but Climie returned to form quickly and WSU was held scoreless the rest of the way.
“We’ve been struggling with scoring goals,” Bachynski said, “and the bottom line is that we didn’t put the puck in the net in the third period.”
Erickson, who passed Andrew Murray as Bemidji State ‘s all-time Division I-era scoring leader with 117 career points by scoring his ninth and tenth goals of the season, said that the Beavers were fortunate to pick up the win after jumping out to the early lead.
“We got those first four goals and that didn’t take the life of them,” Erickson said. “They played hard, and I think we got more breaks than they did.”
No matter how much the hockey might not have been aesthetically pleasing, the weekend resulted in a series sweep for Bemidji and four important points on the road as the Beavers head into nonconference action against WCHA foe Minnesota-Duluth next weekend.
“(Wayne State) played very desperate and deserved a better fate tonight, but I’m excited we won,” Serratore said.
Erickson added, “Four points on the road are hard-earned points.”
The WSU power play — which scored for the first time in 20 chances — has been abysmal, converting at just 14.4 percent (14-of-97) after finishing 1-for-8 against BSU. Another troubling stat is that the power play has accounted for almost half (14 of 30) of Wayne State ‘s offense.
It all added up to another struggle for WSU and Wilkinson, whose Warriors have dropped six of seven games and four straight at home.
“It’s tough to swallow,” said Wilkinson. “Again, we had our chances to score, and when you don’t, it’s tough.”
Wayne State stays in the CHA next weekend with a two-game set at Niagara, which holds first place with a 4-1-3 mark in conference play.