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MEN'S HOCKEY: Penalty woes: Penalties cost Beavers in 5-3 Game 1 loss to MTU

BSU sophomore Hampus Sjodahl (23) skates with the puck in the first period of Friday's WCHA quarterfinal game against Michigan Tech at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Forum News Service)1 / 2
BSU senior Gerry Fitzgerald (21) passes the puck in Friday's WCHA quarterfinal game against Michigan Tech at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Forum News Service)2 / 2

BEMIDJI, Minn.—A trio of unanswered goals had spotted the Bemidji State men's hockey team a 3-1 lead early in the second period of the Friday night, March 2, WCHA Playoff quarterfinal series game at the Sanford Center.

However, the Beavers could not quite weather a rash of four straight penalties—including a pair of game misconducts—in the final 20 minutes, 30 seconds of the contest. Michigan Tech equalized on the power play in the final seven minutes and scored the go-ahead goal with 1:30 remaining to walk away with a 5-3 Game 1 victory.

"We beat ourselves tonight," BSU coach Tom Serratore said. "We did it to ourselves."

Bemidji State racked up 38 penalty minutes on the game as the Huskies spent nearly 14 minutes on the power play during the third period.

Justin Baudry had recorded a goal and an assist before he was ejected and given a five-minute major for contact to the head with 30 seconds left in the second. Minors were issued to Dillon Eichstadt and Kyle Bauman immediately after killing Baudry's penalty, which BSU also killed.

But the Beavers took one penalty too many.

Aaron Miller picked up a five-minute major for checking from behind and was tossed from the game at 10:45 of the third period, resulting in Jake Lucchini's tying goal for MTU.

Though the teams were back to even strength, the momentum was squarely on the Huskies' side as Seamus Donohue scored the go-ahead goal off a faceoff win that gave MTU a 4-3 lead with 1:30 remaining.

"Number one, we were undisciplined at times with two five-minute majors. That's on us," Serratore said. "Secondly, we weren't very good on the faceoff dot. So they get two power-play goals and they get a faceoff goal with a minute and half or whatever it was left in the game."

An empty-netter with 16 seconds left sealed the 5-3 win for MTU, who takes a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.

"The dam's (going to) break eventually," Serratore said. "You just can't keep doing that to yourself. And you're overplaying certain guys. You're overplaying your penalty killers. You've lost a couple guys. You have a short bench the way it is, and again, you're asking way too much out of your penalty killers."

Prior to the onslaught of penalties, MTU had taken a 1-0 lead in the first period on Gavin Gould's rebound goal before Hampus Sjodahl snapped a shot directly off a faceoff win and deposited it top shelf to level the score at 1-1 with 9:09 left in the frame. Brendan Harris picked up the assist after his faceoff win.

A checking from behind call put the Beavers on the power play for the first time late in the period. On the man advantage Baudry blasted a shot from the point, through traffic and into the back of the net past a screened Devin Kero for a 2-1 lead with 2:19 left in the first period.

Harris scored the third of three unanswered BSU goals to start the second period. The freshman got his stick on a loose puck at the goal mouth to put the Beavers ahead by two at 3:18 of the frame with his power-play goal.

Lucchini reduced the deficit back to one with the first of his two power-play goals at 16:43 of the frame.

The penalties kept mounting from there, but Bemidji State could only hold off the Huskies for so long.

The Beavers need a win tonight to force a third game in the series and keep their season alive. The teams will be back at the Sanford Center for a 7:07 p.m. puck drop in Game 2.

"We've just got to find a way to win," Serratore said. "You aren't (going to) win by being in the penalty box like we were tonight. Our back's against the wall and we've got to get it done on Saturday night now at home."

Michigan Tech 5, Bemidji State 3

MTU 1 1 3—5

BSU 2 1 0—3

First period—1, MTU, Gould (L'Esperance, Meek), 7:20; 2, BSU, Sjodahl (Harris), 10:51; 3, BSU, Baudry (Bauman, Miller), 17:41, PP.

Second period—4, BSU, Harris (Miller, Baudry), 3:18, PP; 5, MTU, Lucchini (Reinke, Auk), 16:43, PP.

Third period—6, MTU, Lucchini (Auk, Reinke), 13:19, PP; 7, MTU, Donohue (Steman), 18:30; 8, MTU, Jackson (Lucchini, L'Esperance), 19:44, EN.

Goaltending (Shots-Saves)—BSU, Bitzer (32-27); MTU, Kero (25-22).

Austin Monteith

Austin Monteith is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He is an Illinois native and a Butler University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @amonteith92.

(218) 333-9787
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