Beavers hold on to defeat Nebraska-Omaha, 3-1
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Beavers hold on to defeat Nebraska-Omaha, 3-1
OMAHA, Neb. (Quest Center Omaha) -- Bemidji State University may have been out shot 25-17 at the Quest Center in Omaha, Neb., but the only shots that count are the ones that find the back of the net and tonight the Beavers scored three times, while BSU goaltender Dan Bakala (So., Calgary, Alberta) turned away 24 shots to lift BSU to a 3-1 victory at University of Nebraska-Omaha.

After a scoreless first period, the Beavers scored two goals in the second frame and held off a steady UNO attack in the third to secure a win over the future Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) foe.

Only three games remain in the 2009-10 regular season and the 2010 College Hockey America champions entered the series clinging to hopes of an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament March 26-28. But a loss in any of the Beavers’ remaining contests could send the team spiraling out of the tournament picture, making this weekend’s games must-wins for Bemidji State.  Tonight the Beavers came through.

“I just told the guys in the locker room that we’ve had a lot of big wins in the history of the program, but this is one of the biggest,” said BSU head coach Tom Serratore.  “It was a total team effort and I am extremely proud of the guys.”

Six different Beavers found their way into the scoring column with at least a point, but it was the forward line of Tyler Lehrke (Sr., F, Park Rapids, Minn.), Chris McKelvie (Sr., F, New Brighton, Minn.) and Jamie MacQueen (So., F, St. Thomas Ontario) that provided the spark for BSU tonight.  Lehrke led all players with an empty-net goal and an assist, while MacQueen posted the game-wining goal late in the second period.

“You lean on your seniors and I can’t say enough about how well [Lehrke] has played.  Jamie MacQueen has been outstanding the last two or three series and Chris McKelvie has been steady.  Again there is no question, we lean on those guys and they’ve delivered.”

After setting the tone with dominant play in the opening minutes of the game, the Beavers were out played in a majority of the first period and were out shot 8-2, but escaped the stanza locked in a 0-0 tie.  

Matt Read (Jr., F, Ilderton, Ontario) broke the scoreless deadlock at the 2:40 mark of the second taking a feed from linemate Jordan George (Fr., F, Madison, Wis.). George skated into the zone with Read leading a 2-on-1 and threaded a pass through the Mavericks’ defense to find the junior crashing the crease.  Read tipped in his team-leading 17th goal of the season to put BSU up 1-0.

MacQueen stretched the Beavers’ lead to two goals, 2-0, when he scored a power-play marker with six minutes to go in the second period.  The Mavericks’ penalty-kill unit failed to cover the and the sophomore found a seam, skated between the circles and beat the UNO goaltender for the eventual game-winner.  Brady Wacker (Fr., D,  Jansen, Saskatchewan) and Lehrke were credited with assists on the play.

The Mavericks opened the third period with a fury and cut the BSU lead to 2-1 just 89 seconds into the final frame.  Despite keeping Bemidji State on its heels throughout the final 20 minutes of play and out shooting the visitors 11-8 in the period, UNO pulled its goaltender and surrendered Lehrke’s empty-net goal with 28 seconds to play.

MacQueen’s goal on the man advantage stood as the Beavers’ only special team’s goal of the night.  BSU went 1-for-3 on the power-play while blanking the Mavericks’ on five power-play tries.

Bakala was superb in net, garnering the game’s No. 1 star, while improving to 18-5-2 on the season in the 24-save victory.

Nebraska-Omaha’s Jeremie Dupont allowed two BSU goals and made 14 saves in 59:20 of play.  Tagged with the loss, he falls to 5-5-2 on the season.

The victory marks the Beavers’ first in five tries versus Nebraska-Omaha.  BSU is 1-4-0 in the BSU/UNO series since the rivalry got its start in 1999.

“We got it done tonight, which was huge.  But I just told the guys that we can’t have any complacency tomorrow.  We have to act like a championship team and maybe become a bit selfish or greedy and keep this run going with a win tomorrow,” Serratore commented.  We know how tough [Nebraska-Omaha] is and they are very good at home.  We’ll be ready to play.”

The Beavers (21-7-2; 13-3-0 CHA) and Mavericks (17-13-6; 13-12-3 CCHA) are back in action tomorrow.  The teams hit the ice at 8:05 p.m. to wrap up the nonconference series from the Quest Center.