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MEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers come back, snap 6-game skid with chaotic victory

The Bemidji State men’s hockey team’s losing streak is over. And it wasn’t easy to break.

020922.S.BP.BSUMHKY Ethan Somoza goal celebration.jpg
The Beavers celebrate Ethan Somoza’s (9) third-period goal against Northern Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men’s hockey team’s losing streak is over. And it wasn’t easy to break.

Down against Northern Michigan at the Sanford Center on Saturday, the Beavers rallied back to tie. Earning a power play in the final minutes, they converted the goal they couldn’t on Friday, as Elias Rosén’s strike rang off the pipes and in to give BSU a 4-3 lead. Alex Ierullo’s empty-netter with five seconds left sealed it, and Bemidji State had a 5-3 win, its first in seven games.

“There was a lot of adversity tonight,” head coach Tom Serratore said. “It wasn't easy, and you got to win games like this. And the guys found a way to get it done. I was proud of them. We needed this. It's just a breath of fresh air.”

The Beavers (14-16, 12-10 CCHA) got the scoring started with a perfectly executed tic-tac-toe play early in the first period. Owen Sillinger passed to Rosén from behind the net, who flicked it to Ethan Somoza. Somoza’s shot deflected off Lukas Sillinger and into the goal, giving BSU an early 1-0 lead.

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Bemidji State sophomore Lukas Sillinger (20) shoots in the second period against Northern Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

Northern Michigan (15-12-1, 9-11-1 CCHA) took control in the second period, posting back-to-back scores by Alex Frye and Hampus Eriksson within two minutes. Moments later, Lukas Sillinger and NMU goaltender Charlie Glockner collided in the crease after Sillinger lost his balance while chasing a puck. Glockner remained flat on the ice for several minutes and had to be removed from the game.


With new goalie Nolan Kent in for the Wildcats, BSU responded with a score by Ierullo off another nice passing sequence from Owen Sillinger and Rosén at 11:55 to tie the game.

“It's tough seeing someone go down like that and not get up and not come back to the game, so my prayers are with him,” Lukas Sillinger said. “I was just kind of driving the net, and I got pushed off balance on my side. And then I couldn't even tell you honestly, I kind of blanked out. I think it was my back end that hit him, and I'm not too sure if he hit the post or fell back. I just hope he's all right.”

The chaos didn’t end there. After Somoza scored on a swift shot at 4:07 in the third period to give the Beavers a 3-2 lead, it looked like that might do it. But the Wildcats battled back and evened it up on AJ Vanderbeck’s strike at 12:04. Bemidji State would have to win the game again.

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The Beavers celebrate Elias Rosen’s (28) game-winning goal in the third period against Northern Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

BSU received an eerily similar opportunity moments later. At 16:33 in the third, Northern Michigan's Michael Van Unen was called for tripping. This came almost exactly a minute later in the game than an interference penalty on NMU from Friday.

And this time, the Beavers answered the bell. Rosén’s ringing shot at 17:03 sounded victory for BSU, which took a 4-3 lead. When Ierullo’s empty-netter nicked nylon at 19:54, Bemidji State knew it would be going home a winner.

“I just put my hands up in the air for relief,” said Rosén, who finished with four points. “It was a huge weight off our shoulders. There's been a couple weeks here where we’ve been feeling down.”

The relief will continue into next week, as the Beavers will have next weekend off before traveling to No. 1 Minnesota State. BSU will face the Mavericks at 7:07 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18, and 6:07 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19, in Mankato.

Bemidji State 5, Northern Michigan 3

NMU 0 2 1 -- 3

BSU 1 1 3 -- 5

First period -- 1, BSU GOAL, L. Sillinger (Somoza, Rosén), 4:35, PP.

Second period -- 2, NMU GOAL, Frye (Ghantous, Newhouse), 5:53; 3, NMU GOAL, Eriksson (Cosgrove), 7:58; 4, BSU GOAL, Ierullo (O. Sillinger, Rosén), 11:55, PP.

Third period -- 5, BSU GOAL, Somoza (O. Sillinger, Zmolek), 4:07, 4v4; 6, NMU GOAL, Vanderbeck (Keefer, Ghantous), 12:04; 7, BSU GOAL, Rosén (L. Sillinger, Somoza), 17:03, PP; 8, BSU GOAL, Ierullo (O. Sillinger, Rosén), 19:54, PP, EN.

Saves -- Enright (BSU) 33; Glockner (NMU) 5; Kent (NMU) 15.

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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