BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sanford Center) - The Bemidji State University men's hockey team hung with No. 4 Ferris State University for 40 minutes Friday, but the league-leading Bulldogs netted three goals in the third period of play to pull away from the Beavers and gain a 4-1 victory to open the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series.
The Bemidji State penalty-killing unit was tested early and often. Three times BSU skated at least one man short, including 25 seconds of 5-on-3 play in favor of FSU, but it was an even-strength goal that broke the scoreless tie at the 8:34 mark. The Bulldogs' Travis White took a kick pass from Matt Robertson at the top of the right face off circle and slide the puck inside the left post past BSU goaltender Jesse Wilkins (Fr., G, Calgary, Alberta) for his second goal of the season. Kenny Babinski was also credited with an assist after digging the puck out of the corner to start the scoring play.
BSU trailed 1-0 to open the second period.
The Beavers carried play for large portions of the second and despite failing to gain any ground on the scoreboard, out shot the Bulldogs 13-9 in the frame.
Four minutes, 47 second into the third period, Cory Kane stretched FSU's lead to two goals, 2-0, when he out muscled a Beaver defender, turned the corner and fired a wrist shot just under the arm of the BSU goaltender.
The Beavers got a spark from Radoslav Illo (F, Bystrica, Slovakia) late in the third. Ruslan Pedan (Fr., D, Moscow, Russia) won a battle for a loose puck in the FSU offensive zone and threaded a pass to Illo. The senior beat the Bulldogs' back line down the ice and found the back of the net from between the face off circles. The goal, which cut the BSU deficit to 2-1 with 6:37 to play, was his eighth of the season, establishing a new single-season high for the Bystrica, Slovakia native.
The BSU momentum swing would be short-lived. FSU and Justin DeMartino answered 23 seconds later to regain their two-goal advantage, 3-1. Kane fired a shot for the left circle and DeMartino, who was camped out in front of the crease, tipped the pick over the left shoulder of Wilkins.
Bemidji State would pull Wilkins with 2:28 to play in effort to generate extra offense, but the Bulldogs put the game out of reach netting an empty-net goal with 22 seconds to play.
BSU's penalty-kill unit was a perfect 5-for-5 on the night, while its power-play unit was 0-for-2.
Wilkins turned aside 27 shots and surrendered thee goals in the loss. He falls to 2-4-3 on the season.
Bemidji State (8-16-7; 8-11-4 WCHA) looks to salvage a series split with league-leading Ferris State (21-6-3; 16-3-2 WCHA) gain ground in the standings tomorrow as the teams go head-to-head in the series finale. The opening face off is set for 7:07 p.m.