BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sanford Center) -- On a night when the Bemidji State University men's ice hockey team was out shot 40-26, senior goaltender Dan Bakala (Calgary, Alberta) stood tall turning aside 39 Minnesota State University, Mankato shots to open the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) series with a 2-1 victory Friday at Sanford Center.
Tied 1-1 midway through the third period, Jordan George (Jr., F, Madison, Wis.) potted his team-leading 13th goal of the season to provide BSU with the offense it needed to break the stalemate, gain two points in the league standings and improve to 12-11-2 overall and 6-9-2 in WCHA play.
Minnesota State took the first lead of the game at 8:58 of the opening period when Max Gaede buried his own rebound. Park Rapids, Minn. native Zach Lehrke, bother of former Beaver forward Tyler and Michael Dorr, brother of former BSU women's forward Frannie, were credited with assists on the play.
Down 1-0, the Beavers found their backs against the wall at the 12:47 mark then the team lost forward Darcy Findlay (Sr., Bristol, Quebec) for the game after the senior was whistled for a five-minute checking from behind penalty and a game misconduct. The BSU penalty-kill unit responded by holding the Mavericks scoreless for the entire penalty and BSU escaped trailing MSU by a goal at the end of the first.
Bemidji State clawed its way back into the game before a back-and-fourth second period came to an end.
With 4:40 to play in the period, Jake Areshenko (Jr., D, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia) found Danny Mattson (Fr., F, Minneapolis, Minn.) at enter ice with an outlet pass. Mattson skated into the zone and capped the play a wrist shot placed just over the glove hand of the MSU goaltender Phil Cook from the right face off circle.
The goal was the second of the season for Mattson and stretched his current scoring streak to a career-best five games.
The teams opened the final 20 minutes of play locked a 1-1 tie. Despite carrying play for the majority of the period, the Beavers relied heavily on Bakala stay in the game and, after the George goal at the 9:46 mark, to hold the lead.
BSU junior Aaron McLeod (F, Ottawa, Ontario) started the go-ahead-goal scoring play skating the puck into the zone and finding Ben Kinne (Jr., F, St. Paul, Minn.) along the far boards. Kinne threaded a pass through traffic hitting George streaking down the slot. After his first shot was kicked to the left by Cook, George corralled the loose puck and put it past the goalie's blocker for his team-leading third game-winning goal of the season.
Bakala finished the game stonewalling the Mavericks during the final 10 minutes, which included a pair of game-saving, one-on-one breakaway stops versus Lehrke with just over four minutes to play.
Bakala finished the night stopping 39 of 40 MSU shots on goal to collect the win and improve to 6-7-1 overall. In addition he was the last line of defense for a penalty-kill unit that held MSU scoreless on three power-play opportunities (3-for-3).
The BSU power-play unit got just one chance and registered three shots on goal, but was unable to convert (0-for-1).
Cook made 24 stops, but was tagged with the loss after allowing two BSU goals. He falls to 3-5-0.
BSU now holds a 46-36-13 advantage over Minnesota State in the all-time series and are 30-13-5 when hosting the Mavericks. However, MSU has won seven of the last nine meetings between the teams.
Bemidji State (12-11-2; 6-9-2 WCHA) attempts to gain its fourth series sweep of 2011-12 tomorrow when the Beavers and Minnesota State (8-18-1; 4-14-1 WCHA) wrap up the WCHA series in a 7:07 p.m. start at Sanford Center.