OXFORD, Ohio - The Bemidji State University men's ice hockey team went toe-to-toe with the nation's top-ranked team, Miami University, for 55 minutes Saturday, but a short-handed goal by Matt Tomassoni in the game's final minutes proved too much as the RedHawks earned a 3-2 victory to split in the season-opening, nonconference series in Oxford, Ohio.
Bemidji State alternate captain Brad Hunt (Sr., D, Ridge Meadows, British Columbia) collected a pair of assists, his second and third of 2011-12, in the game to lead the Beavers and BSU converted its first power-play goal in six chances this season, but it was special teams situations that ultimately cost BSU the game.
The Beavers put the RedHawks on a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity late in the second frame to allow MU to tied the score 2-2 and a power-play miscue led to the short-handed, go-ahead goal with just under five minutes to go in the third.
For the second consecutive night, Miami was the first to light the scoreboard. Tomassoni took a pass from Austin Czarnik and beat BSU goaltender Dan Bakala (Sr., Calgary, Alberta) at the 8:06 mark of the first period to put MU up 1-0.
Trailing 1-0 to open the second period, Shea Walters (Sr., F, Hibbing, Minn.) collected a loose puck on the doorstep and buried his first goal of the season. Hunt got the play started with a shot form the blueline. Orban picked up the shot off the boards and left it in front for Walters and the Beavers converted their first power-play chance of the season.
Just over six minutes later (10:20) the Beavers took the lead, 2-1, when Jordan George (Jr., F, Madison, Wis.) put a rebound past the Miami goaltender Connor Knapp for his first tally of 2011. Captain Ben Kinne (Jr., F, St. Paul, Minn.) and Hunt were credited with assists on the play.
Following the goal BSU's Radoslav Illo (So., F. Bystrica, Slovakia) and Jake Areshenko (Jr., D, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia) were called for slashing penalties separated by just 14 seconds to gave the RedHawks a 1:46 5-on-3 opportunity. Miami took full advantage of the chance scoring the equalizing goal just 63 seconds later on a Chris Wideman slapshot from the blueline.
With 5:26 to play and the score knotted at 2-2, the Beavers got the break it needed when Steven Spinell was whistled for slashing. The penalty supplied the Beavers with their fourth power-play opportunity of the evening. But it was the RedHawks that would use the opportunity to snatched the lead. When Matt Prapavessis (Fr., D, Oakville, Ontario) fell trying to keep the puck in the zone, MU's Trent Vogelhuber picked up the puck and led the short-handed rush with a shot. Bakala made the initial save, but Tomassoni was there to put the rebound past the BSU goaltender and give the nation's top-ranked team the lead for good.
As time wound down, the Beavers pulled Bakala for an extra attacker, but were unable to score to force overtime.
Bakala finished with 23 saves in 58:57 of action. He allowed three goals as his record evens at 1-1-0 on the season.
Each teamed completed the night 1-for-4 on the man advantage, with MU's short-handed marker standing as the decisive goal.
BSU his now 2-4-0 versus Miami all-time.
Bemidji State, (1-0-0) continues its road stretch next weekend as it travels west to Colorado Springs, Colo. to break the seal on its second season in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). The Beavers open the two-game set versus Colorado College Friday with an 8:37 p.m. (CST) start at World Arena. Saturday's series finale is set for 8:07 p.m. (CST).