Beavers outlast Mavericks to gain 6-4 win in Omaha
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Beavers outlast Mavericks to gain 6-4 win in Omaha

Omaha, Neb. (CenturyLink Center) -- Jordan George (Jr., F, Madison, Wis.) posted a goal and two assists and both Ben Kinne (Jr., F. St. Paul, Minn.) and Shea Walters (Sr., F, Hibbing, Minn.) added a goal and an assist Saturday as the Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team outlasted University of Nebraska-Omaha to gain a 6-4 victory and three points in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) series at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

The Beavers were first to light the lamp and would never relinquish the lead leaning heavily on special teams play and goaltending early and answering the Mavericks’ repeated comeback attempts matching a season-high offensive effort with six goals.

George opened the 10-goal night placing a wrist shot just under the crossbar for his team-leading 14th of the season. Linemates Kinne and Aaron McLeod (Jr., F, Ottawa, Ontario) were credited with assists on the play.

Seven minutes and 15 seconds later (13:48), UNO would tie the game, 1-1, on an even-strength goal from Jaycob Megna.

The Beavers took a 2-1 edge to the locker room at the end of the first period. 

With 5:15 left in the period, Darcy Findlay (Sr., F, Bristol, Quebec) forced a UNO turnover and Drew Fisher (Sr., F, International Falls, Minn.) pushed the puck up ice to Orban who dove and batted his fifth tally of 2011-12 out of the air.

Bemidji State goaltender Dan Bakala (Sr., G, Calgary, Alberta) and the Beavers’ penalty-kill unit were tested during the second period.  Bemidji State was whistled for four minor penalties in the frame, with three coming in the span of 2:35, setting up a pair of 5-on-3 opportunities for UNO. 

Just as it has so often this season, the special teams unit stepped up when called upon. BSU successfully snuffed out the Mavericks’ first three power-play chances and at the 16:05 mark of the period, the Beavers, in a rare full-strength moment, took a two-goal lead. Aaron McLeod (Jr., F, Ottawa, Ontario) won an offensive zone face off clean to the point where Sam Windle (Fr., D, Maple Grove, Minn.) unleashed a slap shot through traffic that found the back of the net for his first collegiate goal.

The goal would prove to be big a the Mavericks and Terry Broadhurst capitalized on their fourth man advantage opportunity of the period to bring the score to 3-2 with just 20.5 second left.

Aided by 4:35 of continuous power-play time and a total of 6:18 on the man advantage in the second, UNO out shot BSU 21-5 in the period en rout to a 40-27 advantage on the night.

Leading 3-2 to open the third period, BSU caught a break at the 4:03 mark when Brock Montpetit was whistled for a cross-check on Matt Prapavessis (Fr., Oakville, Ontario).  Just 48 seconds into the man advantage, Brad Hunt (Sr., D, Ridge Meadows, British Columbia) rung a shot from the point off the post and Walters buried the rebound to put BSU up 4-2.

The power-play goal was the first for the Beavers since Dec. 14, ending a string of 11 man advantage opportunities without a goal.

After a short-handed marker by Broadhurst at the 8:06 mark of the third brought UNO to 4-3, Bemidji State answered with a nice passing play between Walters and George to set up Kinne’s ninth of the season in a virtually open net.

With 9:27 left, the Mavericks caught a break of their own and again reeled the Beavers to within a goal, 5-4.  A strange bounce off a seam in the boards centered the puck to Matt White who buried his 13th marker of the season.

UNO head coach Dean Blais pulled his goaltender to get an extra attacker on the ice with 61 seconds left, but David Boehm (Jr., F, Naples, Fla.) would tilt the game in BSU’s favor picking up a loose puck and scoring an empty-net goal with 15 seconds left.

BSU’s penalty-kill, which opened the day 12th in the nation (.850) and second in the league (.852), finished the night killing 6-of-7 (.857) UNO power-play chances, while its power-play unit converted 2-of-7 (.286) chances.

Bakala’s totaled 36 saves in the win, which included 20 in the second period alone.  With the win, he improves to 7-7-2 on the season.

Ryan Massa collected 21 saves, but allowed five BSU goals and was tagged with the loss.  He falls to 5-4-2 in 2011-12.

The Bemidji State victory gives the Beavers a 7-6-3 advantage in the series, while BSU is 6-1-2 in the last nine meetings with UNO.

BSU is now 5-5-2 all-time in Omaha, Neb., and is unbeaten last six contests in CenturyLink Center (4-0-2).

Bemidji State (13-12-3; 7-10-3 WCHA) returns to Sanford Center next weekend for a WCHA series versus Colorado College (15-9-2; 12-7-1 WCHA). The two-game set will get underway at 7:37 p.m. Friday with the series finale slated for a 7:07 p.m. opening face off.