BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sanford Center) - Alex Ierullo and Lukas Sillinger each poured in a goal and an assist, while Zach Driscoll stopped 33-of-34 shots he faced to lead the Bemidji State University men's hockey team to a 3-1 victory over Michigan Technological University and take a 1-0 lead in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association best-of-three playoff series.
Michigan Tech jumped out of the gates to put the Beavers in a 1-0 hole just 2:33 after the opening puck drop. Brian Halonen capped a tic-tac-toe scoring play, on passes from Tristan Ashbrook and Nick Nardella, with his eight goal of the season. But the Beavers would score back-to-back goals to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Aaron Miller got Bemidji State on the board at the 8:00 mark. The senior forward finished a nifty passing play from Kyle Looft and Brendan Harris. At the 14:22 mark, BSU's leading scorer Alex Ierullo netted his seventh goal and 21st point of the season with help from Tyler Jubenvill and Lukas Sillinger. Sillinger found Jubenvill on the top of the right faceoff circle and Jubenvill fired a puck on net. Ierullo skated across the front of the crease and redirected the shot past MTU's Pietila.
After a first period with good pace, BSU struggled to gain traction and was outshot 13-7 in the second. After giving up a power-play chance early, BSU regained some momentum and extended its lead to 3-1 midway through the second. Lukas Sillinger again came up big taking a patient pass from brother Owen and finding the back of the net at the 11:42 mark from low in the right faceoff circle for the sixth goal of his freshman season. Ierullo collected an assist on the scoring play after tipping the puck into the zone.
Each team would get a power play chance in the third period, which included the Beavers' first attempt with a man advantage of the game, but the teams were unable to convert.
MTU pulled Pietila with 2:21 to go, but even with a few moments of 6-on-4 advantage, the Huskies were unable to shrink the deficit.
Zach Driscoll finished the evening with 33 saves for his 13th victory of the season, while backstopping a BSU penalty-kill unit that was three-for-three.
The Beavers, now 14-8-3 overall, will host Michigan Tech again tomorrow with a chance to close out the best-of-three series and punch their ticket to the WCHA Playoffs semifinal round. The puck is set to drop at 6:07 p.m. form Sanford Center.