MARQUETTE, Mich. — While Fridays game between the Northern Michigan Wildcats and Bemidji State Beavers was a close contest, Saturdays was not.
The Beavers boarded their bus and headed back for Minnesota with a 3-3 tie and a 5-0 win under their belts. The difference in the series finale was special teams and a change of goaltenders.
The first period started out strong. And just like on Friday, the Beavers first shot on goal was their first goal.
Thats the way we establish ourselves, senior captain Chris McKelvie said. Get pucks on net early. Thats the style we try to bring to the table, so its always nice to get the first goal. It was exciting that it was on a penalty kill.
Its great playing [with] Chris McKelvie, Lehrke said. Hes one of the fastest guys in college hockey and hes probably the hardest working guy on our team. Hes a natural leader, we all look up him. Hes got great work ethic, we all look up to him and thats why hes our captain.
The Beavers luck continued in the first. Their next shot on goal was their second goal of the night. With passes from Brady Wacker and Chris Peluso, Lehrke shot the puck underneath Wildcat goaltender Brian Stewarts blocker.
Bemidji State came out strong in the second period and 58 seconds in they took control. On a triple rebound, Jordan George and Brad Hunt secured the puck and gave it to Ryan Cramer who gave the Beavers a cushy three goal lead.
At 8:24 in the third the Beavers scored their fourth goal on a power play. Shea Walters gave the puck to Brad Hunt who shot it toward the net. Stewart had the save, but Ian Lowe was there to catch the rebound and score to give the Beavers four goals on 19 shots on goal. At 12:07, McKelvie had an unassisted breakaway that gave the Beavers their final five goal lead.
The last few goals were just the icing on the cake for all the hard work we put in this weekend, McKelvie said. It was a tough weekend for us physically, so it was nice to get a few goals in the end and build some confidence for next weekend.
The Beavers had 26 shots on goal for the evening including two power-play goals, a shorthanded goal and two even strength.
Any time you get a short-handed goal its pretty deflating for the opposition, Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said. We just kept our foot on the gas pedal all night and our special teams performed very well. We were very stingy defensively.
Our special teams were working hard tonight, Lehrke said. There arent a whole lot of five on five goals in college hockey anymore so special teams usually win the game.
Next weekend, the Wildcats will face the top ranked Miami RedHawks, taking this weekends experience to build up for their next series.
We came out tonight, we gave up that short-handed goal and it went really bad from there, Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle said. We had a lot of guys try to do too much. It was certainly evident defensively we missed Erik Gustafsson.
It was certainly evident offensively we missed Gregor Hanson. But the guys that were playing were capable of playing a much better game than we did; right from Stewart on out. I was happy at all with how we executed and performed tonight.
The Beavers will face Alabama Huntsville.
Every weekend has different challenges, Serratore said. We start our conference games next weekend and we wanted to go into that on a high note. At this stage of the game, Im very happy with where we are.