The Bemidji State men’s hockey team turned a strong second period into a 4-1 victory over No. 10 Colorado College and a series sweep Saturday night at the Sanford Center.
Jordan George and Shea Walters scored in a second period where the Beavers outshot the Tigers 18-3 to take a 2-1 lead into the third period.
“All four lines were rolling and we were getting shots – good, quality shots – on net,” BSU junior Aaron McLeod said. “We were getting some second opportunities, guys were finally getting in front of the goaltender and getting some traffic. I think that was a big part of it.”
McLeod and Danny Mattson scored for BSU in the third period to close out the win and goalie Dan Bakala finished with 23 saves.
The sweep marked Bemidji State’s fourth of the season but first WCHA sweep since Oct. 21-22 against Michigan Tech at the Sanford Center.
“It’s huge for our team,” McLeod said. “To sweep them here is a big momentum booster for our team and we’ll keep on moving up in the standings now hopefully.”
Bemidji State (15-12-3, 9-10-3 WCHA) split the four-game season series with Colorado College (15-11-2, 12-9-1 WCHA) after being swept last October in Colorado Springs. The Beavers moved into eighth place in the WCHA standings and stayed in the hunt for home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
“We just have to keep on playing the way we are and we know we’re going to have a good chance come the end of the season,” McLeod said.
The Beavers travel to No. 2 Minnesota next weekend on a three-game winning streak and have earned seven WCHA standings points in the last four games.
Bakala finished with 52 saves in the series, but BSU head coach Tom Serratore was more pleased with the amount of blocked shots in the series (34) and the team effort on Saturday night.
“We got contributions from everybody and I thought we had a good offensive presence, we were good defensively and we won the special teams battle,” Serratore said.
Andrew Hamburg scored for Colorado College and goalie Joe Howe had 26 saves. The Tigers played Saturday night without seven players due to injuries.
“Even with everybody, we would have gotten beat,” CC head coach Scott Owens said. “We seemed a little bit tired. … We didn’t get enough big plays out of people. We didn’t generate much.”
Colorado College scored first on Hamburg’s goal with 48 seconds left in the first period. When Bakala dived to poke check the puck away from Jaden Schwartz at the crease, Hamburg was there to put back a shot into the open net.
That was the high point of the night for the Tigers.
“We let it slip away,” Colorado College’s Jaden Schwartz said. “They played a better game than us, and they worked harder, and we didn’t deserve to win. … You can’t make excuses. You’ve got to start scoring goals. We can’t rely on our goalies and our defense to win us every game.”
The Beavers responded after Hamburg’s goal with a rush of offense in the second period.
“I like that we controlled play, we forechecked hard and we kept pucks low,” Serratore said. “We played with a lot of determination and we played with a lot of grit.”
It started with George’s team-leading 15th goal of the season 28 seconds into the period. McLeod’s centering pass off a botched Colorado College clearing attempt found George all alone in front of the net and he finished the play to tie the game at 1-1.
BSU took a 2-1 lead midway through the period on a Walters’ power-play goal. Ben Kinne’s shot from the top of the circle deflected off a defenseman to the post and Walters poked it through Howe for the score.
BSU carried the offensive momentum into the third period and scored 21 seconds in to take a 3-1 lead. Kinne fought through a check at the blue line and fed McLeod with a cross-ice pass for his second goal of the weekend.
Even the bounces seemed to go the Beavers’ way on Saturday.
When Mattson tried to make a move around a Colorado College defenseman, the puck deflected into the air and over Howe for a 4-1 lead with 9:24 left to play.
“He made a nice play and it worked out for him,” Walters said. “It just proves if you can get more shots, can get it to the hole and get shots on net, it gives us a better chance to win.”
CC 1 0 0 – 1
BSU 0 2 2 – 4
First period – 1, CC Hamburg 1 (J. Schwartz, Guentzel), 19:12.
Second period – 2, BSU George 15 (McLeod), :28. 3, BSU Walters 10 (Kinne, Hunt), 11:22.
Third period – 4, BSU McLeod 8 (Kinne, George), :21. 5, BSU, Mattson 3 (Jubinville), 11:36.
Shots on goal – CC, 13-3-8-24. BSU, 9-18-3-30.
Goalies – CC, Howe (30-26). BSU, Bakala (24-23).
Power Plays – CC, 0-for-2. BSU, 1-for-3.
All photos by Eric Stromgren.