BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State men’s hockey team’s five-game unbeaten streak was snapped by Bowling Green in a 3-1 loss Friday night, Feb. 22, at the Sanford Center.
The No. 15 Falcons (20-8-4, 15-7-3-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) took the lead 26 seconds into the contest and never relinquished it. BGSU outshot the Beavers 19-10 through the first two periods and made it difficult for BSU to generate many scoring chances.
“It was the toughest two periods that we’ve had all year,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “We just couldn’t muster anything up. In the third period though, we kind of got on track a little bit.”
Trailing 2-0 early in the final frame, Alex Ierullo cut the deficit in half with his sixth goal of the season.
The Beavers (15-13-5, 13-9-3-2 WCHA) turned the tables, outshooting BGSU 11-3 in the third period. Ultimately, they were unable to follow up Ierullo’s tally, including on a 5-on-3 power play that was cut short by a penalty.
“We got into a little bit of a rhythm and we had a good period,” Serratore said. “But it boils down to this: It’s a 2-1 game, we get a 5-on-3 and we don’t get it done. And then we get a penalty besides. That’s on us. So we deserved what we got in my eyes when that happens.”
The lone goal of the first period came just 26 seconds into the frame on Max Johnson’s backhander up front.
The BSU penalty kill entered the night having held opponents scoreless on their last 39 power-play opportunities dating back to Dec. 30, 2018. That streak came to an end early in the second period.
The Falcons took to the power play after Owen Sillinger was whistled for hooking. Will Cullen broke through by burying a rebound on the man advantage to extend the lead to 2-0 at 2:27 of the period. After a lengthy video review, the goal stood.
Ierullo ended the Beavers’ scoring drought early in the third period. Tyler Kirkup fed the freshman in the slot at the 2:46 mark.
BSU pulled Zach Driscoll from net for the extra attacker with about two minutes left, but Stephen Baylis quickly buried an empty-netter to seal the Falcons’ win.
Driscoll stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced in the loss, falling to 10-7-3. Ryan Bednard saved 20 of 21 shots to improve to 15-5-3.
Combined with a 4-2 Northern Michigan win over Lake Superior State, the loss dropped the Beavers to fifth in the league standings where they’re three points behind NMU and LSSU in a tie for third. BGSU now has a two-point lead for control of second place. Michigan Tech sits four points back of BSU in sixth with three games remaining in the season.
The Beavers will hope to play like they did in the third period during Saturday’s 7:07 p.m. home finale at the Sanford Center.
“We have to try to create a little more space for ourselves, and we have to play with a little more pace,” Serratore said. “I didn’t think we played very fast tonight. … I mean it’s a huge game obviously. It’s as close to a must-win as a must-win is.”