BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sanford Center) - The Bemidji State University men's hockey team scored twice in the first seven minutes of play and goaltender Andrew Walsh (Jr., Dawson Creek, British Columbia) stopped 32 of 33 shots faced, as the Beavers earned a 2-1 victory over No. 4 Ferris State University Saturday to cap 2014 Athletic Hall of Fame weekend at Sanford Center.
The victory over the league-leading Bulldogs not only allowed the Beavers to salvage a series split and gain control of seventh I the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings-- just two points out a tie for third-it also stands as BSU's first victory over a top 10 team since it downed University of Denver Dec. 15, 2012.
The Beavers exploded out of the gates grabbing 1-0 lead just 1:57 after the puck dropped. Danny Mattson (Jr., F, Minneapolis, Minn.) slid the puck to Ruslan Pedan (Fr., F, Moscow, Russia) at the top of the left face-off circle for a shot. Senior Radoslav Illo (Sr., F, Bystrica, Slovakia) was on the doorstep to coral the rebound and put his second goal of the weekend past FSU goaltender C.J. Motte.
Just under five minutes later (6:56), the Beavers struck again to extend their lead to 2-0. This time Markus Gerbrandt (So., F, Edmonton, Alberta) created a turnover in the Bulldogs' offensive zone and passed the puck up ice to Brendan Harms (Fr., F, Steinbach, Manitoba). The freshman forward funneled the puck towards the net and Gerbrandt tipped a backhand past Motte for his career-high 13th lamplighter of the season.
Ferris State answered with a Cory Kane goal from the slot at the 15:02 mark.
The teams would skate to the locker rooms at the end of the first period with the score 2-1 in favor of the Beavers.
The score would remain the same into the third period, despite FSU applying significant offensive pressure in a hard-fought second. The Bulldogs had the Beavers on their collective heels for over 16 minutes and BSU didn't record a shot on goal until the 16:12 mark of the frame, but Walsh was perfect stopping all 12 Bulldog shots as BSU was out shot 12-2 in the stanza.
The Beavers got the breath they needed at the 16:01 mark when Dom Panetta was whistled for a checking from behind major and game misconduct, which supplied BSU with a power-play to finish the second and open the third. The Beavers were unable to add to their lead, but the power play helped swing momentum in their favor.
The final four minutes of the third were as hectic and pressure-packed as the Beavers have seen in 2013-14. FSU pulled Motte with over two minutes to go. James Hansen (So., D, Maple Grove, Minn.) was escorted to the box for slashing to set the Bulldogs up with a potential two-man advantage for the final 1:57, but FSU's Garrett Thompson earned a high sticking penalty 32 seconds later and the Beavers, backed by Walsh, withstood the flurry.
BSU was again solid on the penalty kill, snuffing out both FSU power-play chances, but the Beavers' power-play unit struggled to gain traction, coming up dry in all five of its chances, which included the five-minute major.
Walsh backstopped the Beavers to their first victory at home since Nov. 23 to improve to 7-11-4 overall.
The Beavers, now 9-16-7 overall and 9-11-4 in WCHA play, have Feb. 21-22 free from competition. Bemidji State returns to action Feb. 28 and March 1when it hosts long-time rival University of Alabama-Huntsville to close out its 2013-14 home slate. The series gets underway at 7:37 p.m. Friday, with a 7:37 p.m. opening face-off set for 7:07 p.m.