BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sanford Center) -- The University of Wisconsin erased an early deficit using three goals in the second period to hand the Bemidji State University men's ice hockey team a 4-2 loss in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play Friday at Sanford Center.
Just 1-8-1 on the road this season, the Badgers clawed their way out of a road funk in their first ever visit to Bemidji, Minn. getting two points apiece from Michael Mersch, Mark Zengerle and Jon Ramage in the victory.
Despite a valiant effort from an inspired BSU team in the third period, a comeback attempt would fall short as the Beavers' record dipped to .500, at 15-15-3, for the first time since Feb. 3 when the team was 12-12-3 overall.
Bemidji State was first to light the scoreboard. Shea Walters (Sr., F, Hibbing, Minn.) won an offensive zone face off to defenseman Jake Areshenko (Jr., Port Coquitlam, British Columbia) at the top of the left circle. The junior unleashed a slap shot that beat the Badger goaltender Landon Peterson high glove side to put the Beavers up 1-0 at the 17:10 mark of the period.
The goal was his third of the season.
A bit sluggish out of the gate, Areshenko's lamplighter was all the Beavers had to show for a first period during which they had three power-play opportunities and out shot UW 11-7.
Trailing by a goal to open the second period, Wisconsin kicked the pedal to the floor and dominated play during stanza.
At the 3:57 mark, a goal by Frankie Simonelli tied the game 1-1. John Ramage got the play started by digging the puck out of scrum in the corner and flipping it to Joseph LaBate. LaBate slid the puck across the top of the slot to Simonelli who let a shot fly though traffic.
Wisconsin took its first lead of the game, 2-1, at the 6:08 mark of the second when a Justin Schultz shot from the left face off circle caromed off the back wall and banked into the net off the back of Dan Bakala's (Sr., G, Calgary, Alberta) right skate.
Michael Mersch was credited with an assist on the play.
Mersch would give the Badgers a two-goal lead heading into the locker room for the second intermission scoring his 11th goal of the season assisted by Tyler Barnes and Zengerle with just 13 seconds left in the period.
Wisconsin finished the period out shooting BSU 13-8.
The Beavers opened the third with desperation.
Just 1:40 into the frame, senior forward Jamie MacQueen (St. Thomas, Ontario) ignited a Bemidji State rally pulling the Beavers to within a goal, 3-2. Teammate Ben Kinne (Jr., F, St. Paul, Minn.) put the puck on the right post and when MacQueen circled around the back side of the net, he poked it over the goal line for the third tally of his senior campaign.
At the 8:06 mark, MacQueen again found himself on the doorstep poking the puck across the line for what looked to be the game-tying goal, but the celebration was short-lived as the referee immediately waved the goal off stating an intent to blow the whistle after Peterson's glove covered the puck.
The disallowed goal snuffed out the BSU rally and the Badgers would solidify the win when Rampage backhanded the puck out of the corner behind his own net the length of the ice for an empty-net goal with 32 seconds left on the clock.
The power-play was a non factor in the for both teams. The teams combined for seven power-play opportunities, but would fail to find the back of the net as BSU finished the game 0-for-5 and Wisconsin came up dry on both of its man advantage chances (0-for-2).
Peterson improved to 5-6-0 on the season turning aside 28 BSU shots and allowing two goals in 60 minutes of work between the pipes.
Bakala posted 22 saves, but was pegged with loss after surrendering three Badger goals in 59:24. He falls to 9-10-2 on the season.
The win extends Wisconsin's lead in the series to 4-0-0. Wisconsin remains the only current WCHA member team that BSU has not defeated.
Bemidji State (15-15-3; 9-13-3 WCHA) will attempt to snap its three-game losing streak, salvage a series split and maintain an edge over Wisconsin (14-15-2; 9-14-2 WCHA) in the WCHA standings tomorrow as the teams complete the series with a 7:07 p.m. opening face off. The game, the Beavers' 2011-12 home finale, marks the final regular season home game at Sanford Center for BSU's six seniors.