MARQUETTE, Mich. (Berry Events Center) -- Down 3-2 with just 10.6-seconds left in the game, sophomore forward Ben Kinne (St. Paul, Minn.) nudged the puck past Brian Stewart from a scrum in front of the net to even the score to 3-3 and help the Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team salvage a tie in a series-opener at Northern Michigan University’s Berry Events Center Friday. Brad Hunt (So., D, Ridge Meadows, British Columbia) and Jordan George (Fr., F, Verona, Wis.) each contributed their second points of the night on the play, while netminder Dan Bakala (So., Calgary, Alberta) piled up 25 saves to improve to 2-0-1 on the season.
Trailing the Wildcats 2-1 after 40 minutes of play, it was George’s power-play goal at 3:18 in the third that sparked the Beavers’ come-from-behind win. Bemidji State began the third period on the man advantage for 4:01 and after a flurry of shots, the freshman potted his second goal of the season, with 1:17 remaining on the penalty (2-2).
“I think it would have been mothballs if we would not have scored there,” said BSU head coach Tom Serratore after the game. “That can really deflate you if you don’t score [on a five-minute major] when you are down 2-1 in the third period on the road.”
The Beavers would go on to out shoot NMU 12-5 in the third, pulling Bakala with 1:06 left to set up the Kinne extra-attacker, equalizer 56-seconds later.
“Northern Michigan is a good team boy,” commented Serratore. “There is no question there were times that we were a little flat-footed, but over all I thought it was a great tie...a terrific night. I am very proud of the guys. I thought they played with a lot of heart and a lot of want-to in the third period.”
The Wildcats struck first catching the Beavers while they shook off the rust after the week off. Billy Smith pushed his first goal of the season past Bakala on a pass from Mark Oliver just 1:30 into the game. But the goal would serve as a wake up call to BSU. Captain Chris McKelvie (Sr., F, New Brighton, Minn.) forced a turnover just over a minute later and Jamie MacQueen (So., St. Thomas, Ontario) flipped a backhand over the shoulder of Stewart for the first lamplighter of his sophomore season to knot the score at 1-1 (2:49).
Stuck killing eight minutes worth of penalties in the seconds period, the Beavers were simply never able to generate any offense. Northern Michigan held a 12-3 advantage in shots on goal in the period and took advantage of a penalty to MacQueen to get a goal from Ray Kaunisto at the six-minute mark to give the hosts a 2-1 lead heading into the third period.
BSU would battle back to tie the game twice in the final stanza on goals from George and Kinne.
Despite peppering the Wildcat goaltender in the third period, the Beavers were out shot for the first time this season, 28-26.
On an Olympic ice sheet, like the Berry Events Center, special teams can often be the difference in the game, but tonight, both teams were whistled for six penalties and each converted one power-play opportunity to finish 1-for-6.
With a goal and an assist on the night, George registered the first multi-point game of his young collegiate career. Hunt, turned in his sixth multi-assist effort in the first 40 games of his career to move into a three-way tie for the team lead with three assists.
The overtime tie in the inaugural meeting versus Northern Michigan brings the Beavers record to 2-0-1 on the season, while the team is unbeaten (1-0-2) in its last three overtime contests and 5-1-10 in games extended to sudden death since Feb. 24, 2006.
The Beavers’ and Northern Michigan (1-1-1) hit the ice again tomorrow for a chance to take a lead in the all-time series (0-0-1). The game is again scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. start from the Wildcats’ Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich.