Mattias Sholl gets 1st career shutout as 4 Beavers score to blank NMU
Back home at the Sanford Center, Bemidji State submitted perhaps its most complete effort of the year. Taking advantage of three goals in 54 seconds, BSU secured its first shutout of the season.
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men’s hockey team needed a feel-good win.
The Beavers had lost three games in a row, including a sweep last week by conference foe Bowling Green that dropped BSU down in the CCHA standings. But Bemidji State put a stop to all that on Friday.
Back home at the Sanford Center, the Beavers submitted perhaps their most complete effort of the year. Taking advantage of three goals in 54 seconds during the first period, BSU rode that early surge to a 4-0 win over Northern Michigan – its first shutout of the season and the first scoreless outing of sophomore goaltender Mattias Sholl’s Bemidji State career.
“It was nice getting a three-goal cushion right there,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “That doesn't happen too often. But I think the biggest thing is we got that three-goal cushion, but I also thought our guys, for the most part, really managed the game well.”
Bemidji State (10-8-5, 8-4-3 CCHA) burst out of the starting gates with verve, setting the pace of the game with its early trio of goals. Kaden Pickering got the first one at 6:15 in the opening frame with a perfectly executed 2-on-1 fake pass and finish, then Eric Martin beat NMU goaltender Beni Halasz on a breakaway at 6:43. Mitchell Martan poked home a third in the crease at 7:09, ensuring the Beavers buried the Wildcats in a deep hole shortly after the contest commenced.
“They say a two-goal lead’s the most dangerous in hockey,” Martan said. “We went back-to-back goals, and then the third one, we were saying on the bench that it was kind of our (line’s) turn to go and get one. And then sure enough, next shift, we did. So it's important – I don't want to say it relieves pressure, but it gives you a bit more breathing room. And then obviously the fourth one sealed the deal.”
BSU held down Northern Michigan’s attack for a cross-period game-clock stretch of 29:05, then added its fourth score at 16:14 in the second period. Lleyton Roed took advantage of traffic and chaos in the crease, finding a loose puck in the left slot and burying it off assists from Elias Rosén and Jere Vaisanen.
“We had our foot on the gas the entire time, no matter what stage of the game it was,” Sholl said. “That fourth goal, (it was) pretty late, and that's huge. If you can put a fourth goal in and kind of sink that team, don't give them any life before the end of that second, it's huge, and it set us up for a nice finish in the third.”
Bemidji State had to kill a 5-on-3 late in the third period, adding some brief drama to a game that was otherwise decided. But the Beavers built a dam around the net and wouldn’t let the Wildcats break through, and after getting back to even strength, the emphasis was on preserving Sholl’s first collegiate shutout.
“That was a collective group effort,” Serratore said. “These shutouts, it's not one guy, it's a team effort. You saw that in the third period. Our guys were selling out. The amount of blocked shots, how we were getting pucks out, we didn't care if we scored one more goal. We just wanted to make sure that – we were hoping to keep that thing to zero, and we did.”
“That's just such a special feeling for him,” Martan said of Sholl. “It's huge for the team, brings the guys together. It's great to see the camaraderie throughout the game, guys talking on the bench rallying for Shollsy. That helps you put a full 60 minutes together. And you’ve got to give him credit as well. He made some big-time saves.”
Sholl’s biggest stop came on a 2-on-1 chance just prior to NMU’s 5-on-3, and it prepared him fully for what was to come down the stretch.
“That was the most challenging one of the night,” Sholl said. “You have to make some big saves here and there, so I just try to do my job and keep that thing out of there. (I was) very warm (after the 2-on-1), that’s for sure.”
Sholl stopped 18 shots in all to earn the watershed shutout. Halasz collected seven saves before being replaced in the first period by Charlie Glockner, who stopped 24.
BSU will try for the sweep at 6:07 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, back at the Sanford Center.
Bemidji State 4, Northern Michigan 0
NMU 0 0 0 -- 0
BSU 3 1 0 -- 4
First period -- 1, BSU GOAL, Pickering (Lewandowski), 6:15; 2, BSU GOAL, Martin (Roed), 6:43; 3, BSU GOAL, Martan (Jutting, Jones), 7:09.
Second period -- 4, BSU GOAL, Roed (Rosén, Vaisanen), 16:14.
Third period -- No scoring.
Saves -- Sholl (BSU) 18; Halasz (NMU) 7; Glockner (NMU) 24.