MINNEAPOLIS – The Bemidji State men’s hockey team lost to No. 7 Minnesota 4-1 and were swept out of Mariucci Arena in front of 10,202 fans Saturday night.
The Beavers played a more competitive game unlike Friday’s 3-0 loss and hoped to build on the on the positives heading into the final four games of the regular season.
“We didn’t have our best effort last night and I thought we responded tonight,” BSU junior Brance Orban said. “That’s important for us to be able to bounce back like that. It shows we have a lot of character in that dressing room and that we believe in ourselves.”
Erik Haula scored two goals and goalie Kent Patterson had 21 saves for the Gophers (21-11-1, 17-7-0 WCHA), which maintained its first-place lead in the WCHA standings with the sweep.
Brad Hunt scored Bemidji State’s goal in the first period. It was the only shot of the 35 BSU put on goal this weekend to beat Patterson.
“We really played our hearts out,” Serratore said. “We pressured the puck, we worked hard, we played hard, we had scoring chances and when we had our chances I thought Patterson played well … I thought we gave it all and in the end the result wasn’t there, but our effort was.”
Hunt’s goal turned out to be the biggest positive for BSU in a game where Hunt broke two major school records: Matt Read’s games played mark (144) and Chris Morque’s career scoring record for defensemen (107 points).
Hunt was not aware of the record until Serratore handed him the puck in the locker room after the game.
“Obviously it would have been more neat if we got the win,” Hunt said. “But I’m proud of myself, my mom and dad are really proud too, and the guys in the room are proud. It’s cool, it hasn’t sunk in yet and it’s a cool accomplishment.”
Bemidji State (15-14-3, 9-12-3 WCHA) returns home to the Sanford Center next weekend to face Wisconsin in the final home series of the regular season. BSU fell back into ninth place in the WCHA standings with the loss and will be at least four points out of the sixth and final home ice playoff position heading into the Wisconsin series.
Like Friday’s 3-0 Minnesota victory, the Gophers scored quickly to open the game and Haula’s contested wrist shot beat Bakala 76 seconds into the first period.
Hunt tied the score at 1-1 when his slap shot from inside the blue line beat Patterson with 2:46 left in the first period. His 24th career goal was also his 16th career power play goal, which set BSU’s Division I record for power play goals by a defenseman.
Minnesota took control in the second period when Hansen tipped a shot past Bakala 2:05 in and Haula scored on the power play five minutes later to put the Gophers up 3-1.
BSU nearly cut the lead midway through the period when he beat Patterson with a slap shot from the face-off dot. The shot clanked off the crossbar and fluttered wide.
The Beavers pulled goalie Dan Bakala in favor of the extra attacker with two minutes left in the game, but Minnesota’s Seth Ambroz capped off the sweep when he took a pass from Nate Condon at the blue line and scored the empty-net goal with 1:33 remaining. Bakala had 28 saves Saturday and 61 in the weekend series.
BSU 1 0 0 – 1
UM 1 2 1 – 4
First period – 1, UM Haula 13 (Hansen), 1:17. 2, BSU Hunt 5 (Prapavessis, George), 17:14.
Second period – 3, UM Hansen 11 (Holl, Haula), 2:05. 4, UM Haula 14 (Rau, Schmidt), 7:07.
Third period – 4, UM Ambroz 5 (Condon, Helgeson), 18:27 (en).
Shots on goal – BSU, 4-9-9-22. UM, 11-13-8-32.
Goalies – BSU, Bakala (32-28). UM, Patterson (22-21).
Power plays – BSU, 1-for-3. BSU, 1-for-2.
All photos by Eric Stromgren.