Denver bumps Bemidji State from WCHA Final Five
Friday, March 18, 2011
Denver bumps Bemidji State from WCHA Final Five

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Xcel Energy Center) -- The Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team’s inaugural season in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association came to an abrupt end Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The University of Denver scored four unanswered goals in the third period to down the Beavers 6-2 in the first semifinal game of the 2011 Red Baron WCHA Final Five.

The Beavers and Pioneers exchanged blows for 40 minutes, but when BSU was unable to take advantage of a 31-seconds 5-on-3 opportunity to open the third period tied 2-2, the Pioneers found Bemidji State on its heels with an even-strength goal at the 2:56 mark and momentum spun completely in favor of DU.

The Pioneers drew the first penalty of the game, when Ryan Adams (Sr., D, Deloraine, Manitoba) was whistled for high sticking and DU made the Beavers pay.  Just 35 seconds (6:15) into the man advantage, Kyle Ostrow tipped in a goal in from the top of the crease to give Denver a 1-0 lead at the 6:15 mark.

The Beavers returned the favor on their first power-play chance of the afternoon just three minutes later (9:12). Jordan George (So., F. Madison, Wis.) took a pass from Brad Hunt (Jr., D, Ridge Meadows, British Columbia), skated into the zone and lifted a backhand over Sam Brittain to even the score.

The goal served as a spark for Bemidji State as the team turned up the speed and intensity and took a lead into the first intermission because of it.

Radoslav Illo (Fr., F, Bystrica, Slovakia) put the Beavers up 2-1 at the 15:55 mark exhibiting the never-say-die mentality that has become synonymous with Beaver hockey.  Dan MacIntyre (Sr., D, Fort Frances, Ontario) attempted a shot from the left circle that was deflected to Aaron McLeod (So., F, Ottawa, Ontario).  McLeod unleashed a shot from the top of the right face-off circle the was kicked to the top of the crease by Brittain.  Illo busted down the slot and buried a one-timer.

With the teams playing 4-on-4 due to a pair of unrelated penalties, Drew Shore took advantage of the extra space on the ice snipping a shot from the left face-of circle.  BSU’s goaltender Dan Bakala (Jr., Calgary, Alberta) couldn’t get enough of the puck to keep it out of the net and Pioneers tied the score 2-2 at the 4:15 mark.

The score remained 2-2 through the remainder of the period, but the Beavers closed play in the second knowing they had a tremendous opportunity to score early in the third and gain control of the game.  The Beavers failed to capitalize on the opportunity leaving the door open for the nationally-ranked Pioneers.

After N. Shore’s 23rd goal of the season put Denver up 3-2, the Pioneer’s lead swelled to two when Jarrod Mermis lit the lamp at the 8:17 mark. Luke Salazar added a goal at the 15:46 mark and Kyle Ostrow brought the DU scoring to an end with an empty-net goal with 76 seconds to go, 6-2.

Denver finished the game 2-for-3 on the man advantage and held BSU scoreless on 4-of-5 five power-play opportunities.

Bakala turned away 26 shots in the game, but allowed five goals and was tagged with the loss.  He falls to 14-13-4 on the season. 

On the other end of the ice, Brittain improved to 18-7-5, making 36 saves in the win.

Bemidji State capped the season 15-18-5 with a 8-15-5 mark in conference play.