BEMIDJI, Minn. (Bemidji Regional Event Center) - The Bemidji State University men's ice hockey team battled nationally-ranked Minnesota Duluth to overtime and after several legitimate opportunities to earn their first victory at the Bemidji Regional Event Center, seemed poised to escape with at least its first Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) point, but the No. 3 Bulldogs got a goal to steal the game in the waning moments of overtime.
"I was very proud of the resiliency our team showed," commented BSU head coach Tom Serratore. "I thought the first 10 minutes was an extremely one-sided affair. We rebounded, got a couple goals to tie it up and the momentum came back. I thought it was a good toe-to-toe in second period and in the third period I thought we actually carried play.
"Good players make good play and Oleksuk had a heck of a nice tip there from Olson on that third goal."
The Beavers were sluggish out of the gates, stymied by a penalty to Jake Areshenko (So., D, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia) just 27 seconds after the drop of the puck. That's is all that one of the nation's most potent line ups would need to get on the scoreboard. Mike Connolly scored his seventh goal of the season just 19 seconds later to put UMD up 1-0.
For the next eight to nine minutes, the Bulldogs had their way with the Beavers, opening a 14-3 lead in shots on goal and dominating all aspects of play.
A Shea Walters (Jr., F, Hibbing, Minn.) five-minute major penalty for contact to the head, opened the door for Minnesota Duluth to build a 2-0 lead. J.T Brown scored the Bulldogs' second power-play goal of the night at the 10:03 mark, but until Oleksuk found the back of the net in overtime, the goal would serve as the high point of the game for UMD.
Momentum began to build for the Beavers as they killed off the rest of the major. Less than two minutes later (15:19) senior captain Matt Read (F, Ilderton, Ontario) cleaned up a rebound off the power-play shot of Ian Lowe (Sr., F, Bradwardine, Manitoba) cut the deficit in half, 2-1. Jordan George (So., F, Madison, Wis.) knotted the game at 2-2 at the 16:59 mark on a nifty pass from Lowe to the right post.
The back and fourth battle continued though the next 40 minutes of play. An evenly played second period was followed by a third period that featured inspired, aggressive play by the Beavers in which they posted a 11-4 edge in shots on goal. Despite multiple legitimate scoring opportunities, the Beavers were unable to convert before the end of the stanza forcing the first overtime period of 2010-11 for either team.
BSU again came out as the aggressor in overtime, but when the Bulldog attach breached the BSU defense, Brad Hunt (Jr., D, Ridge Meadows, British Columbia) was forced to make a play from behind to prevent a clean break away attempt. The junior was whistled for tripping on the play, forcing the Beavers to play a man short for the remainder of the game. Although BSU successfully killed 1:51 of the penalty, Oleksuk redirected a shot from Dylan Olson into the net with just 7.9 seconds remaining in extra time to keep the Bulldogs unbeaten (6-0-1; 3-0-0 WCHA).
Aaron Crandall won the goaltender showdown posting 26 saves, while allowing two goal in the win. BSU's Dan Bakala (Jr., G, Calgary, Alberta) was tagged with the loss despite turning away a season-high 31 shots.
The win gives the Bulldogs a 19-9-0 advantage in the all-time series, while it stands as the first over BSU on the Beavers' home ice since Feb. 26, 2005.
Bemidji State (0-3-0; 0-3-0 WCHA) will attempt to earn a victory and a series split tomorrow, when it again plays host to No. 3 Minnesota Duluth in WCHA play. The teams are set to hit the Bemidji Regional Event Center ice at 7:07 p.m.