Jan. 25, 2010

Courtesy of Bemidji State

Duluth, Minn. (Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center) -- What a finish.

Trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes of play, the No. 14 Bemidji State University men's ice hockey team tied the game three times in the games final 13 minutes and would need less than a minute of extra time to send the capacity Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center crowd home in disappointment, but not before giving them their monies worth.

BSU posted its third consecutive win earning a 5-4 overtime victory versus No. 4 University of Minnesota Duluth.

After Ben Kinne (So., F. St. Paul. Minn.) sent the game to overtime with a goal at the horn, freshman Jordan George (F, Madison, Wis.) secured the win for the Beavers taking advantage of a UMD turnover in the neutral zone. Once the puck was on his stick he accelerated past the Bulldog defensive pair and beat the goaltender with a back-hand flip.

Not only did the Beavers claim the nonconference series sweep with the gutty victory, they also improved to 3-0-0 versus teams ranked among the nation's top five spots in 2009-10.

The Beavers struck first as senior captain Chris McKelvie (F, New Brighton, Minn.) potted his seventh goal of the season at the 10:11 mark of the first period. Fellow senior Tyler Lehrke (F, Park Rapids, Minn.) started the play intercepting a pass on the blue line in stride and skating it into the offensive zone before giving it up to Jamie MacQueen (So., F, St. Thomas, Ontario) who, in turn, found McKelvie on the left doorstep for a quick tip into the back of the net.

The Bulldogs knotted the game at 1-1 with 1:50 remaining in the first on a Chad Huttel laser from the top of the right face off circle.

Beaver goaltender Dan Bakala (So., Calgary, Alberta) collected six saves and was aided by the post on two occasions during the first 20 minutes of play as BSU was out shot 11-7. The Beavers and Bulldogs skated to their respective locker rooms deadlocked at 1-1 at the conclusion of the first.

The Bulldogs had the Beavers on their heels for a good portion of the second and took its first lead of the series 10:27 into the second frame. Jordan Fulton skated the puck behind Bakala, wrapped around and found an opening between the BSU goaltender's pad and the post for his first goal of the season. UMD clung to the one-goal lead, 2-1, after two periods, out shooting the Beavers 13-5 in the second period alone.

Bemidji State entered the third period facing a deficit for just the fifth time this season and was 0-3-1 in previous four games. But tonight would be different. Matt Read (Jr., F, Ilderton, Ontario) scored a short-handed goal 7:14 in to tie the game at 2-2 to kick start the see-saw battle. Minnesota Duluth got a power-play goal from Travis Oleksuk 1:07 later to regain ownership of the lead, 3-2. At the 13:37-minute mark, Ian Lowe (Jr., F, Bradwardine, Manitoba) scored his fifth goal in the Beavers' last five games and his third of the series to even the score at 3-3. But the Bulldogs looked to drive the dagger 49 seconds later. Mike Seidle buried a shot from the top of the right face off circle to put the home team up 4-3 with just under six minutes to play.

But the Bemidji State would find another gear.

With its goaltender off the ice for the final 38 seconds in lieu of an extra attacker, Kinne willed the puck in the net with 1.3 ticks left to tie the game at 4-4 and extend it to overtime. It took just 36 seconds for the Beavers to claim the victory, their first sweep over the Bulldogs since the 2005-06 campaign and to regain ownership of the coveted Babe the Blue Ox traveling trophy.

Bakala turned away 31 shots en rout to his 14th victory of the season. He improves to 14-3-2 overall and has not lost in his last three starts.

On the other end, Hjelle falls to 8-5-1 on the year. He was credited with 19 saves and surrendered all five of the Beavers goals in 60:36 of work.

After being swept by Minnesota Duluth last year, BSU returned the favor to close the Bulldog's lead in the all-time series to 18-9-0 and close their game at the Glas with a 4-3-0 edge over UMD. The victory over the nationally-ranked Bulldogs also allowed the Beavers to improve to 3-0 versus top 5 teams in 2009-10. BSU also knocked off No. 1 Miami University (Ohio) Nov. 27.

The Beavers (17-5-2; 9-1-0 CHA) return to College Hockey America play and to the friendly confines of the John S. Glas Fieldhouse for a two-game set versus Robert Morris University (7-13-4; 3-4-2 CHA). The series is set to get underway at 7:35 p.m. Friday, with the finale scheduled for a 7:07 p.m. opening face off.