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Bemidji State’s late charge not enough as North Dakota holds on 4-2

Trailing 3-0 entering the third period, Bemidji State showed signs of life after Kaden Pickering’s shorthanded goal, scoring twice in just over a minute. But three goals was too much for the Beavers to make up.

113022.S.BP.BSUMHKY2 Kaden Pickering.jpg
Bemidji State fifth-year Kaden Pickering (18) moves the puck up the ice to score during the third period on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The Bemidji State men’s hockey team looked dead in the water on Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Facing North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D., one day after losing two two-goal leads at home en route to tying the Fighting Hawks 3-3, the Beavers looked lethargic and struggled to string together scoring opportunities.

Trailing 3-0 entering the third period, BSU showed signs of life after Kaden Pickering’s shorthanded goal, scoring twice in just over a minute. But three goals was too much for the Beavers to make up, and they lost 4-2.

“It was a big goal,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said of Pickering’s score. “And that's what we said going into the third – you get one, and you build on that first one. But everything changes, momentum changes with a goal, especially if it's a shorthanded goal like that. It was a heck of a goal, and we really built on it. They were on their heels, and then a lot of good things were going our way.”

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Bemidji State fifth-year Ross Armour (17) fights for the puck during the first period against North Dakota on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Pickering’s strike came at 8:35 in the third, a cross-ice shot that sailed over the right shoulder of UND goaltender Jakob Hellsten. Carter Jones added Bemidji State’s second at 9:37, burying a feed from Vince Corcoran in the slot.

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But the Beavers (5-4-3, 3-1-2 CCHA) couldn’t find another in the remaining minutes, and Judd Caulfield’s empty-netter at 19:31 sealed the win for North Dakota (6-6-3, 2-3-1 NCHC).

“That was our plan, to get one and kind of see what happens,” Pickering said. “That gave us some momentum. Things kind of shifted our way, and we couldn't get that final step done. But it was a big step for our program to face some adversity and then try to bounce back from it.”

BSU fell down early thanks to Dylan James’ score for the Fighting Hawks at 15:03 in the first period, then Riese Gaber and Louis Jamernik V added on in the second with goals at 5:03 and 7:36. The Beavers battled to return to contention in the third, but they couldn’t find the back of the net thrice and had to accept the loss.

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Bemidji State senior Will Zmolek (4) shoots the puck during the second period against North Dakota on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“Every game is winnable, and every game’s losable,” Serratore said. “The bottom line is, I just told the guys, you’ve got to build on the third period. And now we’ve got six conference games in a row before Christmas, and we have a lot of work to do.”

Pickering stood out throughout the weekend, feeding Lleyton Roed’s top-shelf highlight goal on Friday and scoring the key goal for the Beavers on Saturday. Serratore singled out Pickering’s performance over the two contests as especially impressive.

“Pick plays the game the right way,” Serratore said. “He's honest. He's just an honest hockey player. He was our best player this week because he plays heavy, and this was a heavy team.”

Pickering, who transferred to BSU from St. Lawrence for his fifth season, specified newfound comfort with his teammates as essential to his success.

113022.S.BP.BSUMHKY2 Defense.jpg
Bemidji State's Elias Rosén (28) and Jakub Lewandowski (26) defend the puck during the second period against North Dakota on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“I'm feeling good,” Pickering said. “I'm feeling like it's home now after a few months, and now that I know the team, I’m starting to play better. I'm starting to get some more touches, and it feels good.”

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Bemidji State wanted more out of the weekend series than a tie and a loss, but the third-period surge gave the Beavers a morsel to munch on as they prepare to return to conference play.

“We're going to be in situations like that coming down the stretch here, and it's important to stay composed and believe that we can come back and win those games,” Pickering said. “Tonight, (we shouldered) things against a pretty good team, (got a goal) and crazy things can happen. You get two, and then it's a close ballgame. But it was definitely encouraging to see.”

BSU will return to CCHA competition against St. Thomas on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2-3, at the Sanford Center.

North Dakota 4, Bemidji State 2

BSU 0 0 2 -- 2

UND 1 2 1 -- 4

First period -- 1, UND GOAL, James (Kleven, McLaughlin), 15:03.

Second period -- 2, UND GOAL, Gaber (Kleven, Farmer), 5:03; 3, UND GOAL, Jamernik V (Bast, Hellsten), 7:36.

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Third period -- 4, BSU GOAL, Pickering (unassisted), 8:35, SH; 5, BSU GOAL, Jones (Corcoran, Rosén), 9:37; 6, UND GOAL, Caulfield (unassisted), 19:31, EN.

Saves -- Enright (BSU) 26; Hellsten (UND) 18.

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The Beavers gather at the net before a game against North Dakota on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
113022.S.BP.BSUMHKY2 Jakub Lewandowski.jpg
Bemidji State sophomore Jakub Lewandowski (26) controls the puck during the second period against North Dakota on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
113022.S.BP.BSUMHKY2 Gavin Enright.jpg
Bemidji State junior Gavin Enright (1) watches the puck in front of the net during the first period against North Dakota on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
113022.S.BP.BSUMHKY2 Kyle Looft.jpg
Bemidji State senior Kyle Looft (7) moves the puck during the third period against North Dakota on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
113022.S.BP.BSUMHKY2 Dylan James goal reaction.jpg
The Beavers react after North Dakota freshman Dylan James scored during the first period on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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