Bemidji State breaks out, beats No. 2 St. Cloud State with stifling defense
The Beavers welcomed in No. 2 St. Cloud State on Friday at the Sanford Center and outplayed the Huskies, holding SCSU to 18 shots on goal.
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men’s hockey team had shown signs of being an excellent squad early this season.
There are more than signs now – try a flashing neon billboard.
The Beavers welcomed in No. 2 St. Cloud State on Friday at the Sanford Center and outplayed the Huskies, holding SCSU to 18 shots on goal and scoring thrice in the final two periods to pull off a 3-1 upset win.
Bemidji State takes down No. 2 St. Cloud State 3-1 at the Sanford Center. pic.twitter.com/1L5PFqHNah— Christian Babcock (@CB_Journalist) October 29, 2022
“It’s a nice win,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “These guys, they're doing a lot of good things. At the end of the day, it's about those players right there, and they're playing good hockey.”
The victory was Bemidji State’s first against a top-two opponent since Jan. 29, 2021, when the Beavers beat No. 2 Minnesota State at the Sanford Center. That group ultimately made the NCAA Tournament, and while it's too early to chart this squad’s path, they’re off to an incandescent start.
“It's of course big,” said senior defenseman Elias Rosén, who had two assists. “Our older group of the team is solid, and we know we can win these games against St. Cloud and North Dakota and all the big teams we want to play against. And to give the confidence right away to the younger guys to see that (those opponents) are not unbeatable, we were right there with them, it's huge to get this going right from the start.”
St. Cloud State (6-1) came out firing early in the contest, shifting the puck around at warp speed and capitalizing on a quick power play with a goal by Zach Okabe at 3:01. BSU (3-1-1, 1-0-1 CCHA) stabilized, though, and finished the first period with a 13-8 advantage in shots on goal.
It was a sign of things to come. Despite committing three penalties in the second period, Bemidji State allowed no goals, then evened the score at 17:25 with Jere Vaisanen’s poke from just outside the crease off a one-handed assist from Rosén.
Then, the tables turned for good, as BSU took advantage of a Huskies penalty to take the lead. A puck near the crease deflected off Adam Flammang’s skate and in, giving the freshman his first career goal and the Beavers a 2-1 edge.
“It's a great feeling,” Flammang said of getting the victory. “There's nothing like college hockey, I’ve come to realize. And especially in our own barn, playing the No. 2 team in the country, easily could be No. 1, there's no better feeling than that.”
SCSU mushed forward mightily down the stretch and created some quality looks late in the third period, ennerving the 2,651 fans in attendance. But this was a night for the Beavers, made official when Alexander Lundman’s empty-net goal slid past the goal line at 18:47.
“It's huge,” Rosén said. “Especially for the fans and alumni, we always want to make them proud. It's a big accomplishment to do it in the home building. St. Cloud is a big rival here. So it's always nice to get the fans going, that’s for sure.”
Goaltender Mattias Sholl stopped 17 of the Huskies’ 18 shots on goal, buttressing a BSU defensive corps that blocked 22 shots and shut down St. Cloud State’s scoring lanes repeatedly.
“All of them are doing an awesome job,” Flammang said of the defenders. “It helps when you’ve got D like that back there to relieve a little pressure on the forwards. They just chip pucks out, and it's an easy breakout for us.”
Bemidji State certainly broke out on Friday, and now, they’ll have a chance to get the sweep. The Beavers travel to St. Cloud and will play the second half of the home-and-home with the Huskies at 6:07 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
The @BSUBeaversMHKY handed No. 2 St. Cloud State its first loss the year on Friday night at Sanford Center!— CCHA (@CCHAHockey) October 29, 2022
🎥: https://t.co/yRw1IanDBI#CCHAHockey pic.twitter.com/5WDAx10XWy
Bemidji State 3, St. Cloud State 1
SCSU 1 0 0 -- 1
BSU 0 2 1 -- 3
First period -- 1, SCSU GOAL, Okabe (Peart, Krannila), 3:01, PP.
Second period -- 2, BSU GOAL, Vaisanen (Rosén, Martan), 17:25; 3, BSU GOAL, Flammang (Armour, Rosén), 18:51, PP.
Third period -- 4, BSU GOAL, Lundman (Jutting), 18:47, PP, EN.
Saves -- Sholl (BSU) 17; Castor (SCSU) 25.