DULUTH, Minn. — A hard-luck senior line found its scoring touch Friday night, as Minnesota-Duluth added to a modest unbeaten streak by edging Bemidji State, 4-2, in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s game before 6,366 fans at Amsoil Arena.
Center Jake Hendrickson was the game’s top star with two goals, right winger Keegan Flaherty added an empty-net score, and captain Cody Danberg recorded his first point of the season.
The Bulldogs (5-7-3 and 3-5-3 in WCHA) never trailed, and are 2-0-1 the last three games, scoring 15 goals in that span. The Beavers (3-8-2 and 2-6-2) are 0-3 the last three games, scoring just three goals, and 0-3 lifetime at Amsoil Arena.
“In the last three games, our line has been getting more chances and getting pucks to the net, and it was nice to get some production,” said Hendrickson, who earned his first multi-goal game. “When other lines help out, it makes for a more well-rounded team.”
Goals by Hendrickson and Joe Basaraba 81 seconds apart early in the third period gave UMD breathing room with a 3-1 lead. Bemidji State got within 3-2 with 2:59 to play, and Flaherty hit an empty net with 50 seconds remaining.
Shots on goal favored Bemidji State, 23-22, in a typical down-to-the-wire battle between the teams.
“Offense has been tough for us, and we have to find some,” said Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore. “We defended well, and our penalty killing was good, but it was hard to get any sustained pressure on our forecheck.”
The only goal of the first period gave UMD a 1-0 lead on a keep-after-it play. Hendrickson knocked the puck out of the air behind the Bemidji State net and then, with the puck on edge, smacked an attempt off the back of the right leg of senior goalie Mathieu Dugas with 4:58 left.
The Bulldogs led 12-5 in shots on goal in the second period, but Bemidji State scored the only goal for a 1-1 tie. A bounce off the boards looked harmless, but the puck went to the front of the UMD net and freshman Cory Ward’s quick shot beat freshman goalie Matt McNeely at 4:25.
A burst to start the final period put UMD ahead to stay.
“Bemidji plays a good defensive game and we stayed patient, kept working, and it paid off,” said Flaherty. “What our team has been doing well lately is making smart plays with the puck and competing hard overall.”
Hendrickson drove the left side, protected the puck, and at the crease lifted a forehand over Dugas’ shoulder just 81 seconds into the period. Exactly 81 seconds later, when the puck slipped off the stick of a Bemidji State defenseman behind the net and into the crease, UMD winger Basaraba was on the spot to backhand in his fifth goal of the season.
The Beavers had a superb chance by Jordan George midway through the period, but a goal review showed no score, and winger Brance Orban did connect on a rebound to make things tight. Dugas was pulled for an extra attacker with 95 seconds remaining, and Flaherty made good from the right boards.
“We found a way to win a period and win the game,” said coach Scott Sandelin, behind UMD’s bench for a 500th game in 13 seasons. “It was nice to see Jake get rewarded and that line get rewarded, and that’s the kind of help we need from everyone on our team. It was a good, hard-fought win.”
Senior winger Mike Seidel, with an assist, stretched his scoring streak to a career-high 10 games, while UMD’s power play, ranked first in the WCHA, was 0-of-3.