BSU Men’s Hockey wins their first game in WCHA play, 3-2 OT thriller in St. Cloud

It was bound to happen.  

Held winless though the first five games of the 2010-11 season (0-4-1), a team with the proud history and tradition of Bemidji State University was due for a victory.  Saturday at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn., it may have taken extra time, the Beavers got it done earning their first victory as a member of the Wester Collegiate Hockey Association, 3-2, over St. Cloud State University.

The victory came in typical Beaver Hockey fashion:  Hard-nosed play, a stellar effort by the penalty-kill unit and an opportune offensive attack.

“I told the guys in the locker room this was the best regular-season win in the history of this program,” commented BSU Head Coach Tom Serratore after the game.  “It was the way we did it.  We flat out earned this victory.  Period.”

When asked if it was a relief to have a win in the books, Serratore responded with. “It feels like a 50-pound money is off our back.”

It was the Beavers’ top line of Jordan George (So., F, Madison, Wis.), Matt Read (Sr., F, Ilderton, Ontario) and Ian Lowe (Sr., F, Bradwardine, Manitoba) that willed the Beavers a win following a trend established through the first six games of the season.  After Lowe netted the game-tying goal with less than three minutes to play in regulation, the trio again combined to generate the game-winner just 46 seconds into overtime.

“They are probably one of the better lines in the WCHA, we saw that again this weekend,” commented Serratore. “They are just great players and we are so fortunate to have them.”

For the second consecutive night, George, a sophomore, led the team with three points.  Saturday, he had a hand in each of the Beavers’ goals posting three assists.  The Madison, Wis. native finished the weekend leading the team with 4-5=9 points.  Two of his assists came on goals scored by Lowe, which included the game-winner.  Read was also credited with a helper on the game’s final goal.

For the third time this season, Bemidji State was the first to light the scoreboard and Saturday it took just 44 seconds.  With Chris Hepp headed to the penalty box for tripping, BSU senior Emil Billberg (F, Stockholm, Sweden) recorded his second tally of the season on the delayed penalty.  George posted his fourth point of the series and seventh of the season (4-3=7) with the lone assist on the play. But the lead would be snatched away as quickly as it was initially grabbed.  Twenty-nine seconds in to the Beavers’ first power play of the evening (1:11), St. Cloud State’s Nick Jensen netted a short-handed goal with help from Aaron Marvin and Travis Novack.

After seeing a goal scored for each team during the first 71 seconds of play, the teams played the remainder of the period without a goal and skated into the first intermission tied at 1-1.

The Huskies jumped out to a quick 2-1 lead 1:18 into the second period on a goal from Aaron Marvin.  The even-strength marker would stand as the only goal of the second period putting the Huskies 20 minutes from what looked like a series sweep.

Midway through the third period, Dan MacIntyre (Sr., D, Fort Frances, Ontario) was whistled for a pair of minor penalties sending him to the box for four minutes. Thirty-one seconds later sophomore Jake Areshenko (D, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia) also drew a whistle setting the stage for a full two-minute 5-on-3 opportunity for SCSU.  But the BSU penalty-kill unit played water-tight defense for the first 50 minutes and would stand tall again killing the penalties and setting the tone for the remainder of the game.

At the 15:32 mark, the Beavers got the break they needed.  SCSU’s Hepp was sent to the penalty box after being called for a minor penalty putting the Beavers on the power-play.  Forty-seven seconds later, Lowe scored the equalizer with 3:41 left on the clock. George logged his second assist of the evening on a nifty pass across the slot to Lowe, who was parked on the post and buried the one-timer into the back of the net to set up Bemidji State’s third overtime game of the season.

Just 46 seconds after the puck was dropped in extra time, Lowe put a shot past the SCSU goaltender to give BSU the victory.  Read started the play with a never-say-die effort.  After giving the puck up in the neutral zone, he picked the pocket of a SCSU player, found George streaking into the offensive zone and Lowe found the back of the net.

BSU won the special teams battle Saturday and earned the victory because of it.  The Beavers were just 1-of-5 on the power-play, but got the goal they needed when it mattered.  On the flip side, the Bemidji State penalty-kill was lights out, backstopped by junior goaltender Dan Bakala (Calgary, Alberta).  The unit stymied all eight SCSU power-play opportunities, including four in the third period alone.

Bakala totaled 19 saves in the 60:43 victory allowing two St. Cloud State goals.  He improved to 1-3-1 on the season.