|February 23, 2018||1st||2nd||3rd||Final|
|1||08:55||BSU||Dickman, Jay (Bauman, Kyle )|
|2||07:58||MINNST||Michaelis, Marc (Knutson, Zeb )|
|2||17:41||MINNST||Gerads, Dallas (Lutz, Reggie , Scheid, Ian)|
|Shots on Goal||27||33|
MANKATO, Minn. (Verizon Center) – Senior goaltender Michael Bitzer stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced Friday in a 2-1 loss in Mankato, Minn. to become the Bemidji State University Men’s Hockey program’s all-time saves leader. Despite failing to earn a victory, Bitzer kept the Beavers in the game during a third period that saw the Mavericks apply significant pressure.
The Beavers took a 1-0 lead early, but a two-goal second period swung momentum in MSU’s favor and the No. 4/5 Mavericks rode a one-goal advantage to a 2-1 victory and clinched the 2017-18 Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season title and possession of the coveted MacNaughton Cup in the process.
Dickman and the Beavers took a 1-0 lead at the 8:55 mark of the first period. The Shoreview, Minn. native ended a personal seven-game goal-scoring drought, netting his team-leading 14th goal of the season. Kyle Bauman started the scoring play when he corralled a MSU turnover at center rice and found Dickman in the slot.
Minnesota State took advantage of a BSU miscue to tie the game at the 7:58 mark of the second period. When a BSU defender lost an edge attempting to keep the puck in the zone, that set up Zeb Knutson and Mark Michaelis with a 2-on-1 and Michaelis found space between Bitzer’s pads for his 15th goal of 2017-18.
Later in the penalty-riddled second, Minnesota State capitalized on a power-play chance to take the lead. Dallas Gerads took a pass from Reggie Lutz and Ian Scheid right off the offensive zone face off to net his third goal of the season just 11 seconds into the Mavericks’ third man advantage opportunity of the night.
With just under four minutes to play in the game, Dickman funneled the puck toward the MSU goal and caught a spinning Connor Lacouvee off guard. After a review of the play, the referees ruled that it was not a goal.
Trailing 2-1 with 1:44 left, BSU pulled Bitzer for an extra attacker. Despite BSU’s Zach Whitecloud being escorted to the penalty box ending the advantage 29 seconds later, the play sparked a flurry from the Beavers, including a couple near misses, but BSU was unable to find the back of the net.
Special teams have played a major role in the Beavers’ success or failures this season. While only one power-play goal was scored in the game, special teams play was again the difference for BSU tonight. The Bemidji State penalty-kill unit was tested five times and it allowed just one goal, but its power-play crew went 0-for-4.
Bitzer’s 31-save effort stands as his second 30-plus-stop game of the season. He moves to 16-11-7 on the season.
In 135 games in the green and white, the Moorhead, Minn. native has 3,085 saves, surpassing BSU great Steve O’Shea (1985-89), who amassed 3,064 saves during his time as a Beaver.
BSU, now 16-12-3 overall and 13-9-5-3 in WCHA play, wraps up the 2017-18 regular season with the series finale versus Minnesota State tomorrow. The puck will drop at 7:07 p.m. at the Verizon Center.
For more information on the Bemidji State men’s hockey program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUBeavers or @BSUMHockey), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Multimedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).