BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sanford Center) -- Bemidji State University freshman Cory Ward (F, Las Vegas, Nev.) netted the first two-goal game of his career, but University of Minnesota got a pair of power-play goals from Nick Bjugstad Friday to trump Ward and the Beavers, lifting the second-ranked Golden Gophers to a Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) victory over Bemidji State, 4-3.
Ward used his seventh goal of the season to knot the score 2-2 in the waning moments of the second period before supplying BSU a 3-2 lead 2:30 into the third period, but Minnesota would bounce back to score two goals in the final 13 minutes of the game to steal the victory and two points in the WCHA standings.
Minnesota was first to light the scoreboard. Just 5:09 after the opening puck drop, defender Ben Marshall took a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that trickled past BSU goaltender Andrew Walsh (So., Dawson Creek, British Columbia).
Just over four minutes later (9:29), BSU got some revenge to knot the score a 1-1. With Walsh headed to the bench for an extra attacker, senor Jake Areshenko (D, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia) unleashed a shot from the top of the left circle and Matt Prapavessis (So., D, Oakville, Ontario) was in front of the net to tip in a delayed-penalty goal-his first of the season. Senior Ben Kinne (F, St. Paul, Minn.) was also credited with an assist on the play.
BSU held 13-10 edge in shots on goal at the end of the first 20 minutes of play, but not before Danny Mattson (So., F, Minneapolis, Minn.) was whistled for hooking, leaving Minnesota with a man advantage for the opening two minutes of play in the second.
Already a man short, BSU's Aaron McLeod (Sr., F, Ottawa, Ontario) was escorted to the box just 29 seconds in to the session to give UM a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:31. BSU snuffed out the Gophers' first chance, but with just eight seconds left on the McLeod penalty, Bjugstad ripped a shot over Walsh's glove to take a 2-1 lead.
Midway through the period, BSU forced its way back into play and momentum began to swing in its favor. At the 18:17 mark of the period, Ward was in the right place at the right time and pushed the puck past the Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox to tie the game, 2-2.
Clinging to a 21-19 edge in shots on goal to open the third, BSU continued to roll. At the 2:30 mark, Ward picked up a loose puck deep in the Minnesota zone and passed off the boards to Radoslav Illo (Jr., F, Bystrica, Slovakia). Illo skated the puck into the zone and found Ward, who completed the scoring play by picking the top right corner of the net.
Minnesota caught a break at the 14:23 mark of the third when BSU defender Sam Rendle (So., Grand Rapids, Minn.) was booked for tripping. Thirty-one seconds later, Bjugstad struck again, beating Walsh high, glove side to put the Gophers in the lead for good.
BSU pulled its goaltender for the final minute of play, but was unable to pocket the equalizer and dropped the game.
Minnesota finished the night 2-for-4 on the power play, while it held the BSU power play in check on both of its man advantage opportunities.
Walsh and Wilcox each finished the night with 24 saves. Wilcox was credited with the win, his 22nd of the season, while Walsh was tagged with the loss after surrendering all four of Minnesota's goals.
The Beavers, now 6-19-8 overall and 5-15-7 in league play will look to salvage a series split and ride into the post season with momentum tomorrow when BSU hosts Minnesota (23-7-5; 15-7-5 WCHA) to wrap up the 2012-13 regular season. Opening faceoff is set for 7:07 p.m. at Sanford Center.
Bemidji State will honor its 2012-13 senior class in a ceremony prior to tomorrow's opening faceoff. The Beavers' senior class is made up of Jake Areshenko, David Boehm, Matt Carlson, Mathieu Dugas, Jordan George, Ben Kinne, Aaron McLeod, Brance Orban, Brady Wacker. As a group, the class has accounted for four CHA All-Rookie Team awards, A CHA Rookie of the Year pick, 18 WCHA Scholar Athlete awards, 16 WCHA All-Academic awards, a College Hockey America regular season championship (2009-10) and an NCAA Tournament appearance (2010). This class was also part of the transition from the College Hockey America to the WCHA, the last game at John S. Glas Fieldhouse and the first game at Sanford Center.