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When playing No. 20 Bemidji State and their superstar goaltender Michael Bitzer, a tight, defensive game is a par for the course. After falling to St. Cloud State 2-1 on a Friday, the Beavers’ stout defensive effort again came up short, this time against No. 6 Minnesota in the third-place game of the North Star College Cup, 4-0.
The Beavers, who have struggled to score goals for most of the season, were unable to find the net against the Gophers and sophomore goaltender Eric Schierhorn.
“I felt good tonight,” said Schierhorn. “My positioning was strong and I was able to see the puck.”
Bitzer, the backbone of Bemidj’s early-season success, was up to the test against the Gophers, while receiving support from his defensive core and defensive-minded forwards.
“We have to manage the puck,” said Bemidji senior Nate Arentz. “With our speed and strength, we should be scoring more goals.”
Freshman defenseman Tommy Muck saved a goal in the second period after clearing a puck that loitered in the crease behind a sprawling Bitzer.
After a scoreless first period, Minnesota’s Leon Bristedt cashed in on a rebound opportunity off of a Vinni Lettieri shot to get on the board with his eighth goal of the season. Bristedt had a point blank, short-handed opportunity in the third period that sailed wide of Bitzer.
Bemidji coach Tom Serratore felt the Beavers pushed hard offensively on Saturday as they tried to break out of their scoring drought, registering 21 shots on goal through two periods.
“The first 40, I couldn’t ask anymore of our guys,” said Serratore. “There’s not much we could’ve done differently.”
The Beavers have managed more than two goals just once in their last 10 games.
Muck later committed a freshman mistake, wrapping the puck around the boards to a vacated wing. Gophers defenseman Ryan Lindgren tapped the puck behind the net to Darian Romanko, who found Ryan Norman in front to give Minnesota two-goal lead.
The Beavers had their share of power-play opportunities, two of which were cut short by their own penalties committed by forwards Charlie O’Connor and Gerry Fitzgerald, both in the final frame.
“You can’t do that,” said Serratore. “Those things happen but we stubbed our toe there.”
Senior Taylor Cammarata’s power-play goal put the Gophers ahead 3-0 in the third period. Captain Justin Kloos added an empty-net goal.
“Our scoring depth will help us win games,” said Cammarata.
Schierhorn made 25 saves, completing his fourth shutout of the season and received the game’s third star, while the Gophers limited Bemidji State to just four third-period shots on goal.
“We can’t sit here and dwell on it,” said Serratore. “Forget about it and on Monday we’ve got business to take care of.”
Ferris State 5, Bowling Green 0
Ferris State earned a series split with a 5-0 victory over Bowling Green in Big Rapids, Michigan. Mitch Maloney and Gerald Mayhew had a goal and an assist for the Bulldogs, while Justin Kapelmaster stopped 19 shots to earn the shutout.
Lake Superior State 2, at Minnesota State 2
Lake Superior State skated to a 2-2 tie with Minnesota State in Mankato, Minnesota. Gage Torrel and Mitch Hults scored for the Lakers, while defensemen Daniel Brickley and Ian Scheid each had a goal and an assist for the Mavericks.
Michigan Tech 4, at Alabama Huntsville 4
Michigan Tech skated to a 4-4 tie with the Chargers in Huntsville. Defenseman Matt Roy scored twice for the Huskies, while Kurt Gosselin had a goal and an assist for the Chargers.