Despite a stout defensive effort, solid goaltending an early goal by freshman defenseman Sam Rendle(Grand Rapids, Minn.), the Bemidji State University men’s ice hockeyteam was unable to hold on for a victory Friday at the University ofDenver.
The Beavers allowed an even-strength goal each period, which includedan empty-net marker late, dropping the Western Collegiate HockeyAssociation series opener, 3-1, at Magness Arena in Denver.
“I didn’t think we had great legs tonight, but I was so proud of our effort,” commented BSU head coach Tom Serratore. “I thought we were very good defensively and when we had some breakdowns Mathieu Dugas was there to make some big saves for us.
“I thought the guys played a great game.”
For the sixth time in nine outings, BSU was the first to light thescoreboard and tonight it was Rendle who drew first blood. Seniorforward Ryan Cramer (International Falls, Minn.) turned a DU attempted line change into a 3-on-1 opportunity for the Beavers. Jamie MacQueen (Jr.,F., St. Thomas, Ontario) rang a shot of the pipe to cap the rush andthe freshman defender corralled the rebound in the slot and netted hissecond goal of the season to put BSU up 1-0 at the 7:54 mark.
“You put yourself in a pretty good spot when you score that first goalbecause then you are playing with the lead and force them to play catchup hockey.” Serratore added, “Obviously we didn’t hold [the lead], butit is critical to get that first goal on the board.”
Despite outplaying the Pioneers and controlling the puck for a majorityof the first period, DU out shot the Beavers 7-2 and at the 16:25 mark,Matt Donovan evened the score. David Makowski found the blueliner witha drop pass in the high slot and Donovan fired a seeing-eye shotthrough traffic that snuck past BSU’s goaltender Mathieu Dugas (So., G, L’Assomtion, Quebec).
After skating though most of the second period locked in the 1-1 tie,Jason Zucker scored giving the Pioneers their first lead of the eveningat the 17:05 mark. Drew Shore got the play started winning a face offin the Pioneers’ offensive zone. He then dug the puck out of a scrumon the boards and found Donovan. The blueliner fired a shot on net andZucker tipped, what would stand as the eventual game-winner, passedDugas for his team-leading eighth goal of 2010-11.
Opening the third frame trailing by one, 2-1, the Bemidji Statepenalty-kill unit was tested early and often. BSU was whistled forthree penalties setting the Pioneers up with six minutes of 5-on-4play, but for the second consecutive game, and the third time in fouroutings, BSU held its opponent scoreless on the man advantage not onlysnuffing out all three of DU’s third period opportunities, butfinishing the game 5-for-5 on the penalty-kill.
“Our penalty-kill was very good tonight, but we can’t be in the boxthat much,” said Serratore. “The bottom line is that our guys did agreat job executing.”
The Beavers had a flurry of scoring opportunities in the third period despite being out shot 12-5 in the frame.
Brad Hunt may have given BSU its best opportunity late in the thirdleading a 2-on-1 into the offensive zone, but Pioneer goaltender SamBrittian stood tall and gloved the shot for one of his 14 saves on thenight.
Running out of time, the Beavers got the break they needed when DU’sJohn Ryder was sent to the penalty box for holding, setting the Beaversup with their second power-play opportunity of the contest with 3:24 onthe clock. The Beavers lost the ensuing face off and struggled to gaincontrol of the puck for the first half of the power-play chance, butduring the last 40 seconds, had the Pioneers scrambling and racked upfour quality scoring opportunities.
With 1:30 to go, BSU pulled its goaltender to get an extra attacker onthe ice, but with 27 seconds to go, Denver would put the game away on aLuke Salazar empty-net goal.
Brittian was credited with the win, allowing just one goal in 60:00 minutes of play. He improves to 6-3-1 on the season.
BSU’s Dugas was tagged with the loss, conceding two goals, whileturning away 26 Pioneer shots in 58:57 between the pipes. His 2010-11record falls to 1-2-1.
Denver extends it lead in the series to 6-0-0 with the win and is a perfect 5-0-0 when hosting the Beavers.
Bemidji State (2-6-1; 2-6-1 WCHA) will attempt to bounce back, salvagea series split and take another shot at its first win over DU when itagain battles the Pioneers (7-4-2; 6-2-1 WCHA) in tomorrow’s seriesfinale. Opening face-off is set for 8:07 p.m. (CT) at Magness Arena inDenver, Colo.
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