BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sanford Center) - Zach Driscoll made 33 saves to backstop the Bemidji State University men's hockey team to a 4-1 victory as the Beavers swept Michigan Technological University in a best-of-three Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff series to advance to the semifinal round.
Michigan Tech scored first and dominated play for the first 30 to 35 minutes of the game. In a first period that saw the Huskies outshoot BSU 17-10, Driscoll was called on early and often and the senior stood tall keeping the Beavers to within striking distance.
Tommy Parrottino got MTU on the board at the 12:09 mark of the first period taking the puck from end to end before splitting the BSU defensive pair and flipping the puck over Driscoll's glove.
After being manhandled to open the second period, BSU stuck with it and the teams persistence paid off. At the 16:58 mark of the frame, Brad Johnson unleashed a seeing-eye shot from the point that made its way through traffic and past the MTU goaltender Blake Pietila to even the score. Fifty-one seconds later, the Beavers struck again on a faceoff play. Brendan Harris won the draw back to Aaron Miller and Miller found Elias Rosen on the point for a shot that was redirected in front by senior captain Ethan Somoza. The senior captain's team-leading 12th goal of the season put BSU in the lead as the team headed to the locker room for the second intermission.
The Beavers clung to a 2-1 lead as the third period got underway. BSU made it hard for MTU during the first 15 minutes of the period. Passing lanes were tight, clear shots on goal were few and far between and when they needed him, Driscoll was up to the task, turning aside all 11 shots he faced in the third.
As time wound off the clock and it's season on the line, MTU pulled its goaltender out of desperation to fight another day, but BSU capitalized and rattled off a pair of empty-net goals. The first followed a tremendous individual effort by Alex Adams. The junior fought to dig the puck off the wall in the neutral zone and muscled a shot off from the blue line with a MTU defender on his back with 2:18 left. It was his second goal of the season and third point (2g-1a) in as many games. Ross Armour netted BSU's second empty-netter at the 19:30 mark after Alex Ierullo and Johnson sprung him free.
Zach Driscoll finished the evening with 33 saves for his 14th victory of the season. He improves to 14-8-3 on the season.
The Beavers, now 15-8-3 overall, advance to the semifinal round of the WCHA Playoffs in Mankato, Minn. next weekend. Advancing teams will be re-seeded for the semifinal round of the tournament. Game times and matchups will be announced by the league when all four first round series are complete Sunday evening.