The Bemidji State men’s hockey team broke through the rust of the holiday break in a 4-1 victory over Bowling Green State on Friday night in front of 3,547 fans at the Sanford Center.
Despite the win – Bemidji State’s fourth in a row – the Beavers left the game feeling a sense of disappointment.
“I’m just happy to get a win,” said BSU captain Ben Kinne, who scored a goal. “It was not our best effort throughout the whole game. They outshot us and outplayed us most of the game. We were lucky to get a couple goals right there, get some momentum and luckily we ended up on top.”
Radoslav Illo, Aaron McLeod and Drew Fisher also scored for the Beavers. BSU goalie Andrew Walsh had 26 saves in his fourth straight start.
Bemidji State was was outshot 27-16 but never trailed in the first game since Dec. 17. The Beavers improved to 10-9-2 overall with the win and have won six of the last eight games.
BSU and Bowling Green, winless in its last nine games, close out the weekend series Saturday night at 7:07 p.m. at the Sanford Center.
“I thought we were sluggish and we need to play better tomorrow,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “We weren’t hard to play against. Give Bowling Green all the credit. they forechecked hard and stretched the zone on us. We had a hard time getting into a rhythm and I thought Walsh really saved our bacon in the first period.”
Bowling Green outshot the Beavers 10-2 in the first nine minutes of the game but went into the first intermission trailing 1-0 after Illo’s goal on a wrist shot with 3:48 remaining.
Ted Pletsch scored in the second period for Bowling Green (6-12-3 overall) to cut the BSU lead to 3-1. It was the lone highlight for the Falcons in a three-goal Bemidji State second period.
“We really liked our first period and with the exception of scoring goals we did a lot of things right tonight,” Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron said. “I didn’t think the second period was awful even though the scoreboard says it was. That’s just a period we can’t have.”
Bemidji State took control in the second period starting with McLeod’s goal 42 seconds in. He made a move at the edge of the post to slip the puck behind the outstretched leg of Falcons goalie Andrew Hammond.
“They just made an errant play up the wall,” McLeod said. “It was something we were scouting on. (Jordan) George made a great interception and he gave it to me and I walked in. The goalie came out pretty far so I was able to tuck it in.”
Fisher put BSU ahead 3-0 with 5:44 left in the second period when he took a centering pass from Brance Orban between the circles and leaned into a slap shot for the goal.
Pletsch scored 32 seconds later with a shot under the crossbar to end Walsh’s shutout streak at 163 minutes, 2 seconds. It was streak that started in third period of Bemidji State’s 2-1 win over Denver on Dec. 10.
Kinne closed out scoring with 10 seconds left in the period on his seventh goal of the year.
The Beavers killed all four Falcon power plays in the game, including two in the third period. BSU has killed the last 26 straight power plays it has faced in a streak spanning just over six games.
Any kind of positive for the Beavers at the end of the night was overshadowed by other concerns.
“We weren’t very strong on the puck on the wall and were making bad decisions on plays,” Kinne said. “That just trickles down and when you can’t get it going in the offensive zone, then it wears on your defense and you put a lot of pressure on your goalie…If we can win like that, imagine what we could be when we play well. We played well before the break and we want to keep that going.”
BGSU 0 1 0 – 1
BSU 1 3 0 – 4
First period – 1, BSU Illo 5 (Walters), 17:12.
Second period – 2, BSU McLeod 6 (George), :42. 3, BSU Fisher 3 (Orban), 14:16. 4, BGSU Pletsch 2 (unassisted), 14:48. 5, BSU Kinne 7 (Prapavessis), 19:50.
Shots on goal – BGSU, 12-7-8-27. BSU, 6-7-3-16.
Goalies – BGSU, Hammond (13-9, 39:54), Zacharias (3-3, 20:00). BSU, Walsh (27-16).
Power Plays – BGSU, 0-for-4. BSU, 0-for-3.
All photos by Eric Stromgren.