|March 19, 2021||1st||2nd||3rd||Final|
|Lake Superior St.||1||2||1||4|
|1||13:28||LSS||Puricelli, Brandon (Manz, Dustin , Jeffers, Jack)|
|2||15:31||LSS||Bengtsson, Jacob (Eriksson, Hampus , Mucha, Miroslav)|
|2||18:14||LSS||Eriksson, Hampus (Miura, Yuki )|
|3||04:14||LSS||Kaelble, Lukas (Eriksson, Hampus )|
|3||16:00||BSU||Somoza, Ethan (Sillinger, Owen , Rosen, Elias)|
|Shots on Goal||27||21|
MANKATO, Minn. (Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center) – Lake Superior State University got two goals during the final five minutes of the second period to put Bemidji State University into a 3-0 hole and the Lakers would not look back, turning in a 4-1 victory to advance to face Northern Michigan University in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s championship game.
Led offensively by a three-point night (1g-2a) from Hampus Erickson and Backstopped by a 26-save performance from Mareks Mitens, LSSU grabbed an early lead and rode a wave of momentum through the second intermission and to the final horn.
The Beavers and Lakers went head to head through the first 10 minutes of play exchanging blows in an up and down period of action. LSSU got the first break by way of a Sam Solensky penalty at the 8:27 mark of the frame. While the Lakers didn’t convert on the power-play chance, they found the back of the net three minutes later (13:28) to take a 1-0 lead into the break.
BSU gave LSSU all it could handle in the second using a pair of power-play opportunities during the first 10 minutes of the period to start to pull momentum in their favor. But at the 15:31 mark, Jacob Bengtsson hemmed the puck into the zone and floated a shot over high over the BSU goaltender Zach Driscoll. The goal was reviewed to see if the puck may have escaped the zone before Bengtsson corralled it, but was ruled a goal. The controversial call sparked the Laker attack and Hampus Eriksson stung the Beavers with a goal to put LSSU up 3-0 to open the third period.
Lake Superior State extended its lead to 4-0 at the 4:14 mark of the third period on a goal off the stick of Lukas Kaelble.
Bemidji State generated some offense late in the third period to begin to reel the Lakers in, but it was too little too late. After back-to-back LSSU penalties late, Owen Sillinger fired a shot from the right faceoff circle that Mitens deflected to the top of the crease, and senior captain Ethan Somoza was on the doorstep to sweep in his team-leading 13th goal of the season. Elias Rosén was also credited with an assist on the power-play goal.
The score may not have gone in the Beavers’ favor, but BSU took the special tams battle. In addition to going 1-for-4 on the man advantage, the nation’s top penalty kill unit help LSSU without a goal on two opportunities to improve to 70-of-75 for the season while it has snuffed out its opponents’ last 14 man advantage opportunities and 26 of the last 27.
Driscoll finished the evening with 17 saves to surpass Dan Bakala (2,379 - 2008-12) and move into sole possession of fifth place on BSU’s all-time saves list with 2,388 career stops. He moves to 14-9-3 on the season.
The Beavers, now 15-9-3 overall, have assembled a resume that has them on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid. BSU will await its postseason fate. The 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament’s 16-team field will be announced on the NCAA Selection Show, which will air at 6 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.
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).