MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. – After Friday night’s loss to Bemidji State, St. Thomas head coach Rico Blasi said that his team played well for stretches, but mental lapses are what did the Tommies in.

Those well-played stretches were much longer for UST on Saturday as the Tommies trailed only 2-1 heading into the third period. However, those same lapses popped up again in the third as the Beavers erupted for four goals and emerged with a 6-1 win and a series sweep. UST has now dropped 10 straight games.

“I thought we played fairly good the first two periods,” Blasi said. “Obviously, good teams have a way of capitalizing when you make mistakes and we made a few mistakes in the third period and they capitalized.”

“It’s these two or three-minute mental lapses that we go through and give up a couple goals,” Tommies forward Kyler Grundy said. “In Division I hockey, it’s hard to fight back when you’re down a couple against a good, veteran team like them.”

Unlike the previous game where the Tommies struggled to generate offensive opportunities, they came out firing in the first period and got on the scoreboard at the 4:49 mark. With UST on the power play, Matthew Jennings led a rush up ice and then fed a pass to Grundy, who tapped it past Beavers goalie Mattias Sholl.

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Bemidji State goalie Mattias Sholl makes a save during a game against St. Thomas Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Contributed / Shannon Stieg
Bemidji State goalie Mattias Sholl makes a save during a game against St. Thomas Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Contributed / Shannon Stieg

Bemidji answered back at the midway point of the period as Will Zmolek shot from the point tucked under the crossbar to tie the game. The Tommies created two good chances to take the lead again in the first, but Christiano Versich couldn’t cash in seconds after Zmolek’s tally and later with six minutes remaining, Trevor Zins sent a shot on net that just missed deflecting past Sholl.

Bemidji State’s Elias Rosen brings the puck around the Beavers’ net as St. Thomas’ Sam Renlund gives chase Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Contributed / Shannon Stieg
Bemidji State’s Elias Rosen brings the puck around the Beavers’ net as St. Thomas’ Sam Renlund gives chase Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Contributed / Shannon Stieg

In the second period, it was the Beavers who came out sharp and they took advantage of a bad Tommies penalty to take the lead. On the power play, Bemidji’s Elias Rosen sent a shot on net that ran off the pipe and in to put the Beavers up 2-1. Midway through the period, the Tommies had a good chance to tie it as Sholl made a save on the penalty kill and stretched to stop rebound try by UST’s Tim Piechowski.

Any hope of a Tommies comeback ended fairly quickly in the third. At the 4:40 mark, Bemidji’s Alex Adams scored while falling over to make it 3-1 Beavers and three minutes later, Jere Vaisanen deflected a shot past Thome to pad the lead to 4-1. Later, Lukas Sillinger made a great move around a Tommies defenseman and deked out Thome for his sixth goal of the year. Adams then capped off the scoring with his second tally of the night.

St. Thomas’ Andrew Kangas snaps a shot on net during a game against Bemidji State Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Contributed / Shannon Stieg
St. Thomas’ Andrew Kangas snaps a shot on net during a game against Bemidji State Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Contributed / Shannon Stieg

When asked what the Tommies need to do to get back in the win column, Blasi said that they need to stay consistent with their own game.

"We’ve gotta play within ourselves,” he said. “Obviously, we don't have the experience that some of these teams have. You’ve gotta stay within yourself and you’ve gotta make sure that you’re focused and playing the same way for three periods. We are not able to sustain that right now. I think part of the issue is I think our guys are coming out in the third period thinking they’ve gotta win the game instead of winning their shift or winning their period or winning their segment."

The previous night, Blasi said that his team was closer than maybe it thinks it is to a breakthrough and he said he still felt that way.

“I think the first two periods tonight were an indication of that,” he said. “We were shot-for-shot with them, maybe they had a couple more scoring chances than we did. But you have nine seniors on that team and seven guys that have played over 100 games, we don't even come close to that. Again, we’ve gotta focus on what we can do. And if we’re able to do that, we’re gonna be in a lot of games. We’ve gotta play better in the third period.”

St. Thomas’ Kyler Grundy and Bemidji State’s Brad Johnson keep their eyes on the action during a game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Contributed / Shannon Stieg
St. Thomas’ Kyler Grundy and Bemidji State’s Brad Johnson keep their eyes on the action during a game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Contributed / Shannon Stieg

St. Thomas travels to Michigan Tech next week, while Bemidji hosts Minnesota State.

First period — 1. UST, Kyler Grundy 5 (Jennings, Sawchuk) PPG 4:49; 2. BSU, Will Zmolek 3 (Somoza) 10:01.

Second period — 3. BSU, Elias Rosen 2 (O. Sillinger, Armour) PPG 3:11.

Third period — 4. BSU, Alex Adams 1 (Martin) 4:40; 5. BSU, Jere Vaisanen 3 (L. Sillinger, Martin) PPG 7:04; 6. BSU, Lukas Sillinger 6 (Ierullo) 9:07; 7. BSU, Adams 2 (Martin) 17:43.

Power-play opportunities: BSU 2 of 2; UST 1 of 5

Penalties: BSU 8-16; UST 6-12

Goalie saves: BSU, Mattias Sholl 21 (8-7-6); UST, Peter Thome 28 (7-14-7)