By Austin Monteith
BEMIDJI, Minn. — Zach Driscoll saved all 21 shots that came his way in a 3-0 shutout win for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team Saturday night, Feb. 16.
Adam Brady’s first-period goal stood as the game-winner with the Beavers going on to clinch their second straight five-point weekend through an all-around dominant win over Northern Michigan.
“This was a different type of game, as well,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “This was like playoff hockey, and to me it was playoff hockey. There’s a lot riding on these games right now. I just thought we played with a lot of maturity.”
The victory moved the Beavers (15-12-5, 13-8-3-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) into a tie for fourth place in the league standings with the Wildcats (15-14-2, 14-8-2-0 WCHA).
“It’s tight right now,” Serratore said. “We’re not maybe on the outside looking in, but our nose is right up against the window, as is Northern Michigan’s and as is Michigan Tech’s.”
Brady beat a trio of NMU skaters to a loose puck and then beat goalie Atte Tolvanen blocker side for the first goal of the game. The junior wristed a shot past the netminder for the opening goal at the 10:21 mark of the first period.
After a scoreless second period, BSU took its 1-0 lead into the final frame.
A tripping call on Darien Craighead set the Beavers up on the power play for the fourth time.
Sixteen seconds into the advantage, Brendan Harris swept home a puck that deflected off the skate of Jay Dickman that created some two-goal breathing room with 13:57 to play.
The Wildcats pulled Tolvanen for the extra attacker with about three minutes remaining.
Nick Cardelli chased a puck down behind the Wildcat goal and scored a wraparound goal on the empty net with 1:41 to play, putting the game officially out of reach for NMU.
Driscoll came up with 21 saves for his third shutout of the season, improving to 10-7-3 in the process.
“I thought Zach Driscoll was seeing the puck outstanding,” Serratore said. “He was just really calm and composed in the net tonight. It was a good 60-minute effort.”
“I thought the team played well in front of me tonight,” Driscoll said. “That was, coach said in the locker room, about the best 60 minutes we put together all year.”
The BSU penalty kill held NMU 0-for-2 on the power play. The unit has held opponents 0-for-39 on the advantage since the calendar turned to 2019.
The Beavers and Wildcats ended the night tied for the final WCHA home ice playoff spot with 44 points apiece. Behind them in sixth place is Michigan Tech with 37 points.
Having now taken five points from the formerly third-place Wildcats, Bemidji State will next be going up against Bowling Green — who is tied for second with Lake Superior State at 47 points — and league-leading Minnesota State over the final two weeks of the season.
The No. 16 Falcons will venture to the Sanford Center for the Beavers’ final regular-season series of the year, Feb. 22-23. They’ll hope it won’t be the last hockey they’ll play in the building.
“Obviously this is a spot we wanted to put ourselves in… taking five out of six points,” Serratore said. “We’ll take it, we’re happy with it. But we’ve got a lot of hockey left.”