MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Mariucci Arena) -- On a night when Brad Hunt (Sr., D, Ridge Meadows, British Columbia) officially etched his name as one of the greatest players in Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey history, Erik Haula spoiled the celebration, scoring twice to lead No. 7 University of Minnesota to a 4-1 victory over the Beavers at Mariucci Arena.
Hunt’s first-period goal was his 108th point (24g-84a) in a green and white sweater giving him more points than any other blueliner in the 56-year history of the program.
“It’s a pretty cool accomplishment,” said Hunt after the game. “Obviously it would have been a lot more meaningful if we would have got the win, but I am proud of myself, I know my mom and dad are really proud too and those guys in that room are proud.”
Minnesota took a 1-0 lead just 1:17 into the game on a Erik Haula wrist shot over the stick hand of BSU goaltender Dan Bakala (Sr., Calgary, Alberta). Jake Hansen got the play started collecting a BSU turnover on the blue line before feeding Haula with a pass.
It was the Gophers’ first shot of the evening.
BSU knotted the score at 1-1 before time ran out in the period. Hunt netted his fifth goal of the season at the 17:14 mark of the first.
With Nick Bjugstad in the penalty box, Hunt and the Beavers’ capitalized on their first power-play opportunity of the night. The record-breaking goal came in typical Hunt fashion. The senior took a pass from Matt Prapavessis (Fr., D, Oakville, Ontario) skated to the point and unleashed a rocket that Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson had no chance to catch up to, beating him high stick side. Jordan George (Jr., F, Madision, Wis.) was alo credited with an assist on the play.
The goal, not only solidifies Hunt as BSU’s top-scoring defenseman of all time, it also stands as his 16th career power-play goal vaulting him past Clay Simmons (1999-2002) for the top spot on BSU’s Division I-era power-play goals by defensemen list.
Tied -1 to open the second, a Hansen wrister from right face off circle put the Gophers back in front just 2:05 into the frame.
Although the Beavers dictated play for the next several minutes Minnesota built a 3-1 lead with help from its power-play unit. With BSU’s Jeff Jubinville (So., F, Edmonton, Alberta) in the box, Minnesota won the ensuing face of and Haula would light the lamp for the second time of the night on a one-timer from Kyle Rau and Nate Schmidt at the 7:07 mark of the period.
Unable to capitalize on any of its scoring chances in the third period, still trailing 3-1, the Beavers elected to pull their goaltender to get an extra attacker on the ice with 1:55 to play. The Gophers secured the victory an the series sweep 22 seconds later on a Seth Ambroz empty-net goal.
Each team finished the game with a power-play goal. Minnesota was 1-for-2 (.500) on the man advantage, while BSU converted 1-of-3 (.333) chances.
Bakala was solid in net again. Despite taking the loss, he piled up 28 saves in 59:41 of play, but allowed three of the Gophers four goals to dip to 9-9-2 on the season.
Patterson posted his 21st victory of the season on the other end of the ice turning aside 21 of BSU’s 22 shots on goal.
Minnesota takes a 10-1-1 lead in the series between the teams and is unbeaten the last four times the Beavers and Gophers have clashed (3-0-1).
Bemidji State (15-14-3; 9-12-3 WCHA) returns to Sanford Center Feb. 24-25 to host first-time visitor University of Wisconsin. The series, which stands as BSU’s final regular-season home pair for 2011-12, gets underway with a 7:37 p.m. opening face off Friday with a 7:07 p.m. start slated for the home finale Saturday.