MEN'S HOCKEY: No. 7 North Dakota ends BSU’s nine-game unbeaten run
BEMIDJI -- A goal conceded 18 seconds into the game could have spelled an early end for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team.
The Beavers scrapped a goal back as the contest remained deadlocked for the first 30 minutes, but Austin Poganski and Nick Jones bagged two goals apiece to give No. 7 North Dakota a 5-1 victory Friday night at a sold-out Sanford Center. The non-conference loss snapped a nine-game unbeaten run and a six-game win streak for BSU.
Open ice was not easy to come by in a battle between the two of the top 13 defensive teams in the country.
“I just looked at it as a good old-fashioned turf war,” BSU coach Tom Serratore said. “And that’s what it was.”
Senior co-captain Kyle Bauman, who scored the lone goal for the Beavers (11-7-5, 8-4-4-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) said the Fighting Hawks (12-6-5, 6-4-2-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) were worthy of their national ranking.
“They’re a tough team to play against,” Bauman said. “They’re a heavy team and I don’t think we were ready for that. I don’t know if we’ve seen that all year.”
Poganski popped in the first goal of the night just 18 ticks in. Rhett Gardner dished a pass across the slot for a one-timer from the doorstep for the game’s opening goal.
Bauman tied it after Myles Fitzgerald collected a rebound beside the net and found Bauman in front of the crease for the equalizer at 8:49 of the first period. Jay Dickman earned the secondary assist on the goal.
The Beavers held a 7-5 edge in shots through the first period, but the Fighting Hawks came out with the early momentum in the second, outshooting BSU 7-2 through the first 10 minutes.
“I felt from a possession standpoint, I thought from a shot standpoint we played really good,” Serratore said of the first period. “You want to build on that and we didn’t build on it in the second period…. We kind of laid an egg.”
UND broke through for the go-ahead goal at 11:30 of the frame when Jones redirected a shot into the back of the net off a Matt Kiersted shot.
Poganski tallied his second goal less than three minutes later on his backhander in front for a 3-1 advantage through two periods.
“We just lost too many battles,” Serratore said of the middle frame. “We didn’t take care of the puck very well. We didn’t sense pressure. I mean they’re a team that reloads hard. And there’s times that we were just a little slow, but you (have to) make plays and you (have to) move the puck.”
The Beavers, who entered the night killing penalties at a 90.28-percent clip, conceded just their eighth power-play goal of the season 1 minute, 33 seconds into the third on Jones’ second goal of the evening.
BSU kept the score at 4-1 until Trevor Olson buried an empty-net goal with 3:07 left to ice the game at 5-1. Serratore was pleased by his team’s play in the final stanza, but said the second period is what cost the Beavers.
“All they’re doing is managing the game at that particular time, but we’re scrambling just trying to get one,” he said. “The second period was our nemesis tonight.”
The Beavers will hit Highway 2 for the series finale at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. tonight at 7:07. The game will be televised by Midco Sports Network.
“We really (need to) bring it tomorrow,” Bauman said. “Our intensity (needs to) be high. We (have to) get back to playing our game and chipping pucks, and take a page from them -- be tough to play against on the forecheck, be a heavy team to play against and play a tough style of hockey.”
No. 7 North Dakota 5, Bemidji State 1
UND 1 2 2 -- 5
BSU 1 0 0 -- 1
First period -- 1, UND, Poganski (Gardner, Wolanin), 0:18; 2, BSU, Bauman (M. Fitzgerald, Dickman), 8:49.
Second period -- 3, UND, Jones (Kiersted, Kawaguchi), 11:30; 4, UND, Poganski (Jones, Gersich), 14:26.
Third period -- 5, UND, Jones (Bast, Shaw), 1:33, PP; 6, UND, Olson (unassisted), 16:53, EN.
Goaltending (Shots-Saves) -- BSU, Bitzer (31-26); UND, Johnson (29-28).