DULUTH, Minn. — A timeout was needed 7:26 into Friday’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s game at Amsoil Arena.
Two goals by the Bemidji State Beavers, on their first two shots, shocked Minnesota-Duluth. Scott Sandelin took a moment to talk to his troops.
“We were playing OK; I just didn’t want them to get rattled. I didn’t want it to get any worse,” said UMD’s coach. “We got a goal right away and that was a pick me up.”
The No. 15 Bulldogs reeled off the final six goals on the way to a 6-2 victory before a crowd of 6,111 fans. It broke a three-game home losing streak, gave UMD its first league win of the year, and broke a two-game win streak for road-weary Bemidji State, playing in Amsoil Arena for the first time. UMD is 2-0-1 the past three games.
The Bulldogs (3-3-1 and 1-2 in WCHA) outshot the Beavers 40-17, killed two opposing power plays, and scored a man-advantage goal. Five players had UMD goals, with All-American center Jack Connolly recording a goal and two assists.
BemidjiState (3-4 and 2-3) and UMD had played four straight overtime games, including a win for the Beavers in the WCHA Final Five first round in March.
However, in the first meeting of 2011-12, UMD had the upper hand.
“They beat us in every facet of the game. They played on their toes and we were on our heels. It was a flat-out one-sided game,” said Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore, whose team is on the road for four of the first five series. “We haven’t been beaten like that in a while.”
A first period which had no shot attempts through six minutes got offensive. Bemidji State scored goals 58 seconds apart for a 2-0 lead. Offensive defenseman Brad Hunt, a senior, scored from the right edge at 6:28, and center Jordan George followed from the crease at 7:26.
UMD’s timeout gave the Bulldogs and goalie Kenny Reiter a chance to catch their breath.
“They scored on a good play and a bad bounce, just two bad breaks for us. I try to stay calm, so I wasn’t going to dwell on it,” said Reiter. “We were playing well, and we knew if we stuck with it we’d be OK. We took care of the puck after that, and they didn’t see much again until late in the game.”
Puck possession was UMD’s ally. Extreme pressure led to a Wade Bergman goal 55 seconds after the timeout. He was one of three defensemen to score — the first goal of the season for each. Winger J.T. Brown’s third goal of the season, on a backhand attempt into a wide-open net with 6:36 left in the first period, came after another flurry. It was 2-2, and Bemidji State was happy to be there.
Goals 77 seconds apart early in the second period put UMD up 4-2. Winger Keegan Flaherty came from behind the net for a shot and converted the rebound at 8:15. Freshman Casto, a former Hill-Murray defenseman, scored from an open shot at the right circle moments later for his first collegiate goal.
“We just wanted to be relentless; don’t give them any air. Keep at them,” said Bergman. “We played well. There weren’t many glitches.”
With two seconds left in a power play, defenseman Brady Lamb cracked a shot from the left circle at 7:11 of the third period for his first goal of the season. Connolly scored from the slot with 8:53 to play.
Bemidji State freshman goalie Andrew Walsh, in his second start and first on the road, finished with 34 saves. He played in both games of a home sweep of Michigan Tech last weekend, working in relief in a Friday comeback.
“Andrew played well. The Grade A scoring chances were so one-sided for Duluth,” said Serratore.
The Bulldogs are 7-7-2 at Amsoil Arena, and 5-5-1 against Bemidji State the last 11 games in the series. The last four-goal loss for the Beavers was in the 2011 WCHA Final Five semifinals against Denver, 6-2.
“We played well in our defensive zone and were efficient in breaking out the puck. We played a pretty complete game,” said Reiter.