Without seeing the five scoring plays, one might have guessed this was a comfortable 4-1 win for Minnesota State. Instead, thanks a brilliant goal tending performance by Bemidji State's Andrew Walsh, it was the Beavers who walked away with a 4-1 victory tonight.
Walsh was the difference maker all night, particularly in the first period when Minnesota State outshot Bemidji State 14-4, including a number of wide open, point blank chances. But none of those shots found the back of the net, and the Beavers escaped the first period still scoreless.
The game remained scoreless into the second period when freshman Bob Kinne, playing in his first collegiate game, pick up the puck on a breakaway and buried a goal to give Bemidji State a 1-0 lead. Kinne's goal completely changed the momentum of the game in BSU's favor. Senior Matt Hartmann added his first career goal 2:36 later, and Ruslan Pedan score his first career goal less than four minutes after that while on a 5-on-3 power play.
Minnesota State's Jordan Nelson finally snuck a puck past Walsh to give Minnesota State some hope heading into the locker room for the third period, but the Mavericks could get no closer. The third period was a near repeat of the first half of the game, with Minnesota State applying heavy pressure, but Walsh being up to the task every time. Bemidji State's Cory Ward then pick up a loose puck for a breakaway of his own to extend the lead to 4-1. That goal was the dagger, taking the wind out of Minnesota State's sails, and the Mavericks never seriously threatened after that.
Bemidji State sits atop the WCHA standings with a perfect 3-0-0 league record, and are starting to look like a team that could make some noise in the league, especially if Andrew Walsh continues to play so well.
Meanwhile, after practically being crowned as the class of the league before the season, Minnesota State looks to be having some serious troubles. It's tough to say they didn't play well tonight, because they looked very strong at times. But there still just seems to be some magic piece of the puzzle missing that is keeping them from playing up to their abilities. The lone goal tonight drops their season shooting percentage to 5.8%, while they're only converting on the power play 7.4% of the time. Those numbers really speak to the offensive troubles the Mavericks have had so far this year, and could spell disaster in a league with a lot of strong goal tending.
The two teams will complete their series with each other tomorrow in a rematch that will take place at 7:07pm.