BEMIDJI, Minn. (Bemidji Regional Event Center) -- The Bemidji State University men's ice hockey team opened nonconference play Friday hosting Northern Michigan University at the Bemidji Regional Event Center. The Wildcats (6-6-2) stymied the Beavers' offensive attack as goaltender Reid Ellingson turned away 37 shots to lead NMU to a 4-0 victory over the Beavers.
Tied 0-0 through 17:30 of play, the Wildcats' C.J. Ludwig was whistled for cross-checking penalty to set the Beavers up with their second power-play opportunity of the evening, but instead of giving BSU the spark it needed to take a lead into the first intermission, Bemidji State failed to record a shot on net and NMU took advantage of getting their skater back on the ice as Nicholas Kosinski took a pass from Ludwig and scored 12 seconds after the penalty had expired.
"This was a disappointing loss. We gave up the first two goals and that made it tough," said BSU head coach Tom Serratore. "We had a few defensive breakdowns and one at the end of the power-play (in the first period) where our defenseman got trapped and we gave up a 2-on-1. You just can't give up a goal with 18 seconds to go in a period. If you go into the locker room 0-0 its a just totally different game and the mind set is totally different."
NMU built a 2-0 lead with an even-strength marker at the 3:41 mark of the second period. Justin Florek led a 2-on-3 rush and fired a slapshot from the top of the left face off circle. While BSU goaltender Mathieu Dugas (So., L'Assomption, Quebec) kicked the attempt aside, the puck went right onto the stick of Phil Fox in the slot and he buried a wrister.
Entering the third trailing the visiting Wildcats by two goals, the Beavers needed to generate offense early jump back into the game and get the 3,505 back on their side. Instead, NMU's lead would grow to 3-0 just 2:11 into the frame. Erik Higby corralled a rebound off a Stephan Vigier shot and potted his second gaol of the season.
Serratore pulled Dugas with just under three minutes to play in an attempt to shrink the deficit, but when Mike Maltese tipped a BSU pass out of the zone, NMU's top scorer Tyler Gron won a footrace to the puck and got an empty-net tally with 1:34 to play to erase any BSU thoughts of a comeback.
Special teams play was a non-factor in the game. NMU snuffed out all three of BSU's power-play chances, while the BSU penalty-kill unit not only held the Wildcats scoreless on three opportunities, it allowed just one shot on net in six minutes of penalty time.
Falling to 1-4-1 on the season, Dugas finished with 21 saves in 58:52 between the pipes.
The win marks the first time Northern Michigan's first versus the Beavers and evens the series at 1-1-1.
The shutout not only stands as the first time the Beavers have been blanked this season, it is the first time the team has been held scoreless at home since Minnesota State University earned a 1-0 victory over the Beavers at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse Dec. 15, 2007.
Bemidji State (2-8-1) looks to salvage a series split and regain the edge in the rivalry with a victory when the teams meet again tomorrow. The opening face-off will take place at 7:07 p.m. at the BREC.
Bemidji State University, BSU hockey and the Bemidji Regional Event Center have announced several ticket specials for this weekend's series versus the Wildcats. Fans will receive a $5 discount off single-game ticket prices when presenting a non-perishable food item at the BREC box office a the time of purchase. Food collected during the series will be donated to the Bemidji Community Food Shelf, which provides emergency food to Beltrami County families and/or individuals who have short term, emergency food needs.
In addition, high school or college students that present a school/university ID at the time of purchase will get $5 tickets to sit in the Bemidji State student section.
Finally, tomorrow is also Bemidji Youth Hockey Night at the BREC. Area youth hockey players wearing their team jerseys can purchase single-game tickets for just $12. Youth hockey players are also invited to bring their skates to "Skate with the Beavers" following the game.