OMAHA, Neb. – Bemidji State’s Jamie MacQueen watched six minutes of the second period of Friday’s WCHA playoff game against Nebraska-Omaha from the penalty box.
He spent the time during those three straight penalties thinking about how he could redeem himself in the third period.
MacQueen scored the game-winning goal with 1:53 remaining in the game to break a two-goal tie and lift the Beavers to a 4-2 victory in front of 7,219 spectators at the Qwest Center.
“Anytime you take three penalties in a game you’re in the dog house right?,” MacQueen said. “Not to mention I also missed a breakaway in the second – a rough second. I put it in my mind that to help our team out I had to get that back. It was great.”
The Beavers took a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-three playoff and can close out the series with a win in Game 2 today at 7:07 p.m. The series winner advances to the WCHA Final Five tournament next weekend in St. Paul. Game 3 is Sunday at 7:07 p.m. if necessary.
Bemidji State extended its unbeaten record over the Mavericks this season to five games (4-0-1) in part to the stout and sometimes spectacular play of junior goalie Dan Bakala, who had a career-best 46 saves in the victory.
“Danny played very well,” Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said. “He’s been our best player the last few months and he showed why tonight.”
Bemidji State improved to 13-17-5 overall (9-15-5 WCHA) with the win and Omaha dropped to 21-14-2 overall (17-10-2 WCHA). Bemidji State is seeded No. 10 in the 12 team playoffs and Omaha is No. 3.
Jordan George, Ian Lowe and Matt Read scored in the victory for the Beavers. George and Lowe scored twice in the second period to give the Beavers a 2-0 lead.
George scored first when he cut to the net and put a backhand shot over UNO goalie John Faulkner 4:53 into the second period. Lowe put the Beavers up 2-0 on a breakaway six minutes later.
After forcing a turnover at the UNO blue line, Lowe was off to the races and when he skated between the circles in front of Faulkner, he beat the UNO goalie with a hard shot for the 2-0 lead.
Omaha worked its way back into the game with the three consecutive power plays as a result of MacQueen penalties in the second period.
On the third power play, Ryan Walters chipped a centering pass from Matt White past Bakala with 5:58 left in the period for Omaha’s first goal and lone goal of the period.
Bakala stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced in the second period.
Omaha evened the score 6:44 into the third period when Terry Broadhurst’s shot to the left of Bakala squeezed through and backed in off of Bakala’s skate.
From there Omaha’s offense was relentless but could not crack Bakala.
MacQueen’s goal was only BSU’s second shot of the third period. After taking a pass from Ryan Cramer in the offensive zone, MacQueen fired a shot on net from the circle to the left of Faulkner. The puck deflected off of a skate at the front of the net and through Faulkner.
“Any one of our plays is basically a funnel and if you throw it on net anything can happen,” MacQueen said of his sixth goal this season.
Read iced the game for the Beavers 21 seconds later on BSU’s third and final shot of the period. It gave the Beavers the 4-2 margin. He skated up to the edge of the crease and instead of making a pass to the far side of the net, he held the puck for just enough time to wrist a shot under the crossbar.
Read was back in action after missing the first full game of his career last Saturday against Minnesota due to a minor concussion suffered in last Friday’s game against the Gophers.
“It wasn’t too bad and I probably could have played Saturday night,” Read said. “But I didn’t want to chance it because I wanted to be healthy in the playoffs. Over the period of the week I felt better every day. Yesterday’s practice I had to make a decision if I was going to play or not. I felt really good at practice and I didn’t want to miss a playoff game.”
Bemidji State ended a four-game winless streak. Friday’s win was the first victory since a 2-1 win over Colorado College at the Sanford Center on Feb. 19.
Finding the next win may be the toughest task of the season.
“I think the road team wants to for sure make this a three game series – that’s first and foremost,” Serratore said. “Tomorrow there’s going to be a lot of desperation with both teams. This is playoff hockey and this is what you expect.”
Emptying the notebook
Jamie MacQueen on BSU giving up a 2-0 lead
“You never want to give up a two-nothing lead – we had to get that first win. We’re on the road. Now it’s in our ballpark. We have to come out tomorrow and repeat that performance.”
MacQueen on what to expect for Saturday’s Game 2
“Those guys are going to come out 200 percent better and harder than they came out today. Their season is on the line, they want to keep it going. They want to get to Sunday but we don’t. We want to end it and we want to go to Minneapolis.”
BSU head coach Tom Serratore on MacQueen’s and Matt Read’s goal:
“We made some good plays and that was a nice funnel on Jamie MacQueen’s goal. I thought our best player Matt Read showed a lot of poise. We chipped the puck by their defenseman on the fourth one and it happened to be on Matt’s stick. We had the right guy with the puck on his stick.”
Serratore on Omaha’s shots and scoring opportunities (UNO outshot BSU 48-17):
“They’re great transitionally and they stretch well. They shoot from everywhere. They’re such a very dangerous team and everything we saw we expected.”
Matt Read’s comments:
“We thought we played a pretty solid game. They kind of took it to us in our defensive zone but we focus on our defense so much and I thought we didn’t give them too much … We’ve got to stay out of the penalty box more. I thought we played good and played well when it mattered.”
Read on Dan Bakala’s play:
“All year he’s been standing on his head and he’s the main reason why we have been winning games and being in games. It’s the end of the season and we’ve got to give him a pat on the back but at the same time we’ve got to play better in front of him and limit the scoring chances. ”
Read on MacQueen’s goal:
“There’s been a lot of Beaver goals scored on funnels like that and we were talking about that in practice yesterday and again this morning in pregame skate. We talk about how a goalie is sometimes not ready for it and they go in. Sometimes they are the biggest goals of the year … when that went in it put our shoulders a little higher, we were a little prouder and they came out a little flat. Hopefully the biggest goal of the weekend for us.”