The recent string of battles between Bemidji State University and the University of Minnesota Duluth have had a tendency to need overtime to determine a winner. Not this time.
The Beavers, whose previous four games with the Bulldogs required overtime, scored twice on their first two shots of the night, but it was all UMD after that as the defending NCAA champions rattled off six unanswered goals and went on to a 6-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association victory before a crowd of 6,111 at AMSOIL Arena
Junior defenseman Wade Bergman got the scoring rampage started by rapping in a rebound at 8:21 of the first period, less than a minute after UMD head coach Scott Sandelin called a timeout following the second Beaver goal. Sophomore right winger J.T. Brown tied the game up with his third goal of the year with 6:36 to play in the first, and then took the lead for good on second -period goals by junior right winger Keegan Flaherty and rookie defenseman Chris Casto (his first as a collegian).
"It's a relief to get that first goal out of the way," Casto said. "I'm glad it happened at home in front of our great fans."
The No. 15 Bulldogs (3-3-0 overall; 1-2-0 WCHA) made it 5-2 at the 7:11 mark of the third when senior defenseman Brady Lamb struck for the first time since Oct. 9, 2010 -- on a one-time feed from senior left winger Travis Oleksuk. With the assist, Oleksuk, skating in his 100th career game, extended his scoring streak to eight games going back to last year. His linemate, two-time All-American senior center Jack Connolly closed out the scoring with his second goal of the season midway through the third and now has picked up points in each of the past five outoings.
UMD outshot the Beavers (3-4-0; 2-3-0), 40-17, and held them scoreless on both of their power play chances. Senior goaltender Kenny Reiter, who has started six of second games this season, improved to 3-2-1 on the year while posting his first career win over Bemidji State in three lifetime appearances. The Beavers were the lone WCHA club Reiter had never beaten coming into this weekend.
"We came out tonight with the mentality of wanting to get a lot of shots on goal against a freshman goaltender," said Flaherty. "It paid off."
The Bulldogs and Beavers will meet for the final time in the 2011-12 regular season Saturday night at AMSOIL Arena.