Beavers crush Gophers in game two

Minnesota beat No. 7 Bemidji State, 4-1, Saturday but fell behind early Sunday.

Gopher Hockey vs. Bemidji St.

Image by Ian Larson

Gopher Hockey vs. Bemidji St.

by Max Sanders

This weekend, the Minnesota menâÄôs hockey team showed flashes of the team picked in the top-10 of preseason polls and flashes of why they currently sit sixth in the conference standings with a record below .500. Taking on No. 7 Bemidji State, Minnesota (4-5-1 overall, 3-4-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) knew it had to play mistake-free hockey against a team yet to lose on the season. Early in SaturdayâÄôs game, the Beavers (8-1-1, 4-0 College Hockey America) capitalized on a Gophers mistake to take the early lead. After MinnesotaâÄôs Kevin Wehrs was hit, Bemidji StateâÄôs Jordan George picked up the loose puck and put a backhander past junior Alex Kangas for the breakaway goal. It turned out to be the Beavers only lead of the night, lasting exactly 86 seconds. Minnesota sophomore Aaron Ness fired a shot that bounced off goalie Dan Bakala and remained in front of the net. Filling in for the injured Jay Barriball on the first line, sophomore Nico Sacchetti crashed the net and put the puck past Bakala to tie the game at 1. The Gophers took the lead on a Mike Hoeffel power-play goal early in the second period, but the turning point in FridayâÄôs game came six minutes into the period. Minnesota committed four penalties, setting Bemidji State up for four minutes of power play, including two minutes and 12 seconds of a five-on-three advantage. Fresh off a 45-save effort against Wisconsin, Kangas stopped shot after shot as the Beavers continued to keep the pressure in the Gophers zone. What could have been a huge momentum shift for Bemidji State instead had the adverse effect, rejuvenating what had been a quiet Mariucci crowd and giving all the energy to Minnesota. âÄúThat was the game right there,âÄù Gophers head coach Don Lucia said. âÄúYou have a five-on-three that long. You can put it away with two or three goals with the amount of time they had, but we did a great job there.âÄù The third period of Saturday nightâÄôs game saw two Minnesota players score their first goals of the season. Sophomore Jordan Schroeder snapped a 14-game scoreless streak with a power-play goal, MinnesotaâÄôs second of the night. The two power-play goals doubled the teamâÄôs season total. Also scoring his first goal of the season was senior Mike Carman , whose goal 14 minutes into the third period snapped an 18-game scoreless streak and sealed the Gophers victory 4-1. Looking to earn its second sweep of the season, Minnesota staked Bemidji State to an early lead for the second consecutive game, but this time there would be no comeback. The Beavers scored their first two goals of the game as a direct result of Gophers turnovers. The first goal was scored when MinnesotaâÄôs David Fischer made an errant pass that was stolen by Bemidji StateâÄôs Shea Walters , who shot a backhander past the left leg of Kangas for the early lead. Just before the end of the first period, the Beavers struck again. Junior Matt Read skated untouched down center ice and fired a shot that snuck past Kangas, giving Bemidji State a two-goal lead heading into the second period. âÄúThe first [goal] was a gift; the second one we turned it over again,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúWeâÄôre not a good enough team to turn pucks over.âÄù While Bemidji State was able to capitalize on the Gophers mistakes, Minnesota was unable to take advantage of any chances of its own, which ended up costing the Gophers on Sunday night. âÄúThey cashed in on their chances and we didnâÄôt,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúThey were waiting for us to make some mistakes, and we made some mistakes tonight.âÄù A close game after two periods, the third period unraveled nearly as quickly as the first drop of the puck. Bemidji State scored three goals in the first three minutes of the third period, turning a relatively close 3-1 game into a 6-1 route, sending MinnesotaâÄôs fans heading to the exits and giving Bemidij State head coach Tom SerratoreâÄôs squad their first signature win of the 2009-10 season. âÄúItâÄôs a monumental win,âÄù Serratore said. âÄúAnytime you can win in this building, you take it. Very difficult place to play, so IâÄôm very proud of our guys; itâÄôs an exciting time.âÄù Becoming members of the WCHA beginning next year, the Beavers left a good impression on Lucia. âÄúThey did a good job; itâÄôs a good program,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúThey play hockey the right way. TheyâÄôre disciplined, they skate and theyâÄôre well-coached.âÄù The brief respite from conference play is over for Minnesota. The Gophers will return to WCHA action next weekend as they host Minnesota-Duluth in a two-game series beginning Friday at 7 p.m.