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Coming into this game, Bemidji State had never beaten the Minnesota Golden Gophers. However, this version of the Beavers was different. They were undefeated and, at 7-0-1, playing outstanding team defense. Meanwhile, Minnesota was struggling to find its offense. In particular, their power play was struggling.
The game was hard fought and very tight until midway through the third period.
“I don’t think there was a lot of easy ice out there tonight,” remarked Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore.
One of the Gophers struggling young stars, Jordan Schroeder, scored his first goal of the season on the power play to put the Gophers up 3-1 at 13:43 of the third period. It was the second power play of the game for the Gophers, but only their fourth in nine games this season.
“It deflated us a bit,” added Serratore.
Nico Sacchetti set the play up on a wraparound attempt that went straight to Shroeder in the weak side circle. Schroeder one-timed the puck past Dan Bakala, who was late getting over after covering the pipe on the wraparound.
Mike Carmen made it 4-1 at 14:29 of the third on a partially screened wrist shot from 35 feet.
“There was a lot of relief in the locker room tonight,” remarked Sacchetti.
Minnesota’s first power-play goal of the game came in the second period on a two-man advantage at 4:37. Mike Hoeffel got the goal on a one-time redirect on a pass from Cade Fairchild.
While the Gopher’s power play has struggled in this early season, their penalty kill has been superb and, just 1:43 after Hoeffel’s goal, they found themselves in a big hole. Minnesota took four minor penalties in a one-minute interval while the Beavers took just one.
The Gophers faced killing over four straight minutes of power play and over two minutes of two-man advantage.
Alex Kangas stood tall, freezing the puck four times, allowing numerous line changes and no rebounds.
“The most important turning point in the game was that kill, down four straight minutes,” said Gophers’ coach Don Lucia.
“We couldn’t convert on the five-on-three; that makes things difficult,” said Serratore.
The Beavers started fast at 2:03 when Jordan George scored a highlight real goal. The play started when Tony Lucia went after a puck just outside his own blue line. He beat a Bemidji player to the puck, but his pass went off a skate and the puck wound up 25 feet inside Minnesota’s zone.
George picked it up the and went in all alone on Kangas, lifting a backhand shot over Kangas into the upper right corner.
Minnesota answered quickly, scoring at 4:29 on a team goal where all five skaters played a part. Schroeder skated the puck in the zone, did a quick 270-degree turn to gain space and found Fischer at the line. Fischer one-timed a pass to Ness, who had an open lane to the goaltender Bakala.
Hoeffel got the first rebound and Nico Sacchetti stuffed the puck in on the second rebound for his first goal of the year, completing the five man play.
Minnesota controlled the play in the first period with seven quality scoring chances to just two for the Beavers.
Bemidji State gets its second chance to beat Minnesota for the first time Sunday night at 6:05.
“Hopefully, we will respond differently,” remarked Serratore.