ST. CLOUD – The Bemidji State men’s hockey team and St. Cloud State combined for 12 goals in a shootout and split the difference in a 6-6 tie Friday night in front of 5,120 fans at the National Hockey Center.
The Beavers rallied from two-goal deficits twice in the game, which included back-to-back goals by Radoslav Illo and Aaron McLeod in the third period to force overtime. BSU fell behind to St. Cloud State 3-1 in the first period and 6-4 in the opening minutes of the third period.
“It was big on our part for doing that and we worked hard to get those two goals back in the end,” McLeod said. “Hopefully we come out tomorrow night with a little better effort on our part so we don’t go down two goals. There’s not a lot of times you can come back from that.”
Friday’s game was filled with momentum swings for both teams. Jordan George and McLeod each scored a pair of goals for the Beavers. Ben Hanowski scored two goals for the Huskies.
“It shows a lot of character and guts of your hockey team to come back like that, especially on the road and in a venue that has been very difficult for Bemidji State,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said.
BSU entered this weekend’s series with just two wins in 20 meetings against the Huskies in St. Cloud in the Division I era. Bemidji State (5-8-2, 3-6-2 WCHA) and St. Cloud State (6-7-4, 4-4-3 WCHA) finish the series Saturday at 7:07 p.m. in St. Cloud.
McLeod scored the first goal of the game for the Beavers five minutes into the third period. But Bemidji State goalie Dan Bakala was pulled from the game after Nick Oliver, Hanowski and Tyler Johnson scored three goals in four minutes to put St. Cloud State ahead 3-1.
“It’s typical St. Cloud State,” Serratore said. “They make a lot of plays and I don’t know how many back-door goals they’ve scored on us over the course of the last 10 years in this building. We lose our coverage, we get mesmerized by the puck and we get behind.”
Freshman Andrew Walsh finished out the game in goal for BSU and finished with 14 saves. SCSU freshman Ryan Faragher played the entire game for the Huskies and had 19 saves.
The first period scoring burst from SCSU set the tone for the game and the Beavers answered back with three straight goals.
George scored back-to-back goals to erase the first deficit. He took a pass from Jeff Jubinville and scored from between the circles with 2:37 left in the first period and took a back-door pass from Shea Walters on the power play to score 85 seconds into the second period. Brady Wacker scored on a slap shot at 3:30 to put the Beavers ahead 4-3.
“It was a weird game,” BSU defenseman Jake Areshenko said. “I think both teams are rush-offense teams. There were some weird bounces and if I was a fan that would have been an exciting game to watch for sure. The building, their crowd gets behind them and that helps them there a little bit. But we found a way and came back.”
When it looked like the Beavers were going to take over, the Huskies answered with another run of three straight goals. Hanowski scored his second on the power play midway through the period and the teams went into intermission tied at 4-4.
Travis Novak scored 3:55 into the third period on an odd-man rush and Jordy Christian put back a rebound to give the Huskies a 6-4 lead with 14:18 to play.
Bemidji State started the second rally when Illo, who missed the last three games with an upper-body injury, skated the length of the ice and wristed a quick shot past Faragher with 9:54 left. McLeod finished the comeback on a delayed shot from the left circle with 6:37 remaining.
“(Matt)Prapavessis made a great look weak-side and I just held on to it – I just shot far side and it was open,” McLeod said.
Bemidji State held the shots on goal edge 5-3 in overtime. Jamie MacQueen had a chance to win it when a puck bounced off the glass out in front of the net during the final minute. A St. Cloud State defenseman got a stick on the shot and the puck deflected over the goal and into the netting.
“We’re both pretty good defensive teams,” Serratore said. “You take a look at the last two games we’ve given up shots in the mid-20s and that’s pretty good. You want to have a pulse on why games are played out this way and sometimes you have no control over it as a coach. You just have to let the chips fall where they may. That’s what happened today.”
BSU 2 2 2 0 – 6
SCSU 3 1 2 0 – 6
First period – 1, BSU McLeod 3 (MacQueen, Wacker), 5:03. 2, SCSU Oliver 1 (Prochno, Christian), 11:31. 3, SCSU Hanowski 11 (Novak, Eddy), 12:02. 4, SCSU Johnson 1 (Rabey, Novak), 15:45. 5, BSU George 7 (Jubinville), 17:23.
Second period – 6, BSU George 8 (Walters, Hunt), 1:25, (pp). 7, BSU Wacker 2 (George), 3:30. 8, SCSU Hanowski 12 (Jensen, Reid), 9:16, (pp).
Third period – 9, SCSU Novak 5 (Eddy, Prochno), 3:55. 10, SCSU Christian 1 (Jensen, Prochno), 5:42. 11, BSU Illo 2 (unassisted) 10:05. 12, BSU McLeod (Prapavessis, Hunt), 13:27.
Shots on goal – BSU, 4-7-9-5-25. SCSU, 9-7-7-3-26.
Goalies – BSU, Bakala (9-6, 15:45), Walsh (17-14, 49:15). SCSU, Faragher (25-19).
Power plays – BSU, 1-for-2. SCSU, 1-for-3.
All photos by Eric Stromgren.