Beavers Bludgeon Bulldogs

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Minnesota Duluth was seeing the 44-year-old John Glas Fieldhouse for the final time Friday night.

The building, a year younger than their home the DECC, is steeped in hockey history at the Division II and III level under Bemidji State coach Bob Peters, and has been part of the program’s emergence in Division I under coach Tom Serratore.

Next season, the Beavers will play in the brand new $44 million Bemidji Regional Events Center and move from College Hockey America to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, facing UMD in their second home series.

The Bulldogs won’t mind seeing a new building. No. 14 Bemidji State stopped fourth ranked UMD 4-1 before a sellout crowd of 2,414 Friday night in a non-conference battle between in-state heavyweights.

“When we forecheck like we can, there aren’t a lot of teams that can stay with us,” said Bemidji State right winger Ian Lowe, who had two goals. “Our team starts with our goalie [Dan Bakala], and then we’ll block as many shots as we can, and we don’t give the other team a lot of room.”

UMD (16-8-1, the WCHA leader) bused to the game Friday afternoon and was met with a hungry Bemidji State team (16-5-2) that had gone 2-3-1 the previous six games. Lowe scored with 8:56 left in the first period as the Beavers led in shots on goal 11-7.

The Bulldogs picked up the pace, especially in the second period, but left with a third straight loss at John Glas and saw their four-game win streak overall broken.

“Maybe we had some bus legs early, but we can’t use that as an excuse,” said center Jack Connolly, who had UMD’s only goal. “The only period that we looked like ourselves was in the second, when it felt like we could’ve scored five or 10 goals. But one period really isn’t enough to win any game.”

UMD trailed just 1-0 after two periods, but Bemidji State, the College Hockey America leader, scored three in the third. Bakala had a shutout until Connolly scored his 16th goal of the season, on a power play, with 4:26 to play.

Bemidji State’s two home losses this season have been to Minnesota State-Mankato and the Beavers looked intent on a better showing against another future conference member. They’re 2-3 against WCHA teams this season and 9-2 at John Glas overall.

“It was nice to get a lead and after that we were opportunistic,” said Serratore. “UMD was good in the second period and we were able to hold on. We managed the puck better [than in last weekend’s league split at Niagara], but it easily could’ve been a 1-0 game.”

Lowe finished off a pass from behind the net by scoring from the crease with 8:56 to go in the first period. Two UMD power plays were blanked in the first period by Bemidji State’s hustling penalty killers. And two more were snuffed in the second, including 27 seconds of a Bulldog 5-on-3 advantage.

However, UMD loosened up in the second period and outshot Bemidji State 12-6, but couldn’t get past Bakala, second in Division I with 13 victories.

After two periods, UMD’s scoreless streak at John Glas was at 123 minutes and 11 seconds, including a 2-0 loss in 2007-08 and a 5-2 loss on Dec. 8, 2006.

The lead went to 2-0 in a 5-on-3 power play, from defenseman Brad Hunt at the right circle. Goals 73 seconds apart put the game out of reach as Lowe, his 11th of the season, was followed by Brance Orban with 8:51 to play.

“We missed the net a lot and we didn’t help our goalie [Kenny Reiter] much,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “Bemidji played well, but we’ve got to be ready. We’ve got to finish better and not take bad penalties.”

Reiter, in his fifth straight start, was replaced by Brady Hjelle after Orban’s goal. UMD led in final shots on goal 30-26.

Bemidji State is 6-3 the last nine games in the series. The teams meet at 7:07 p.m. today at the DECC.

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