SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — In a non-conference matchup between two schools that had not met in six years, Friday night’s game between Lake Superior State and Bemidji State is a precursor to a possible rivalry when the divisional realignment happens in two years.
For now, the two schools will have to settle for non-conference action.
On Friday night, Jordan George was the hero as he scored the overtime winner in the Beavers’ 3-2 win.
The Lakers carried the play in the opening minutes of the game, only to see a blocked shot lead to Jamie MacQueen scoring on a breakaway to give the Beavers a lead on their first shot of the contest. Shea Walters gave the Beavers a 2-0 lead on their second shot of the period at 14:51 on Lakers goaltender Kevin Kapalka.
Kevin Czuczman got the Lakers on the board in the second period with his first collegiate goal at 7:09. Buddy Robinson then kept the trend going in the third period when he scored his first collegiate goal on a shot from the left side with heavy traffic in front of Beavers goaltender Dan Bakala, setting the stage for the overtime winner.
“We had an OK start and got better as the game went on,” said LSSU coach Jim Roque. “For the most part, we probably got what we deserved tonight. We didn’t show up with the passion and the energy we needed to play with to start the game. It got better in the second period and we got a good bounce to tie the game.”
“For the most part, the game did have some good energy,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “They took it to us for the first period-and-a-half or so. We hung in there and we had the lead. We were opportunistic. I was really proud of our guys in the third period with how we skated and how we had back-to-back-to-back (good) shifts and we got into a rhythm and that really helped us.”
Roque added that Bemidji State battled hard in the third period and pushed the play.
“Give Bemidji full credit, they had a great third period and pushed it hard,” Roque continued. “They skated better than we did in the third. We stood around a little bit and watched them and quit moving our feet.”
Kapalka stopped 23 shots for the Lakers, while Bakala stopped 24 for the Beavers.
“Danny saved our bacon, there’s no question about it,” said Serratore. “That’s what good goalies have to do and while (Lake State) was taking it to us, we had a good backstop and that’s what held us in there. It took us a while to get our legs and get into a rhythm.”
With the loss, the Lakers’ conference record stays at 5-1-0, while they drop to 7-2-0 overall.
The weekend also marked the first time the two schools had met in hockey since Dec. 2005 when the Lakers and Beavers met at Bemidji. The Lakers picked up a 2-1 win to open the weekend before skating to a 2-2 tie in the second game. The two schools had not met at Lake State since Dec. 4, 2004 when the Beavers beat the Lakers, 3-1. The two schools split that weekend series with the Lakers winning 5-4 one night earlier.
The Beavers’ conference record sits at 2-4-0, while their overall record improves to 4-5-0.
Both teams are back in action on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. at the Taffy Abel Arena on the Lake Superior State campus.