Bemidji State made their first appearance at the North Star College Cup on Friday afternoon, but the newcomers hardly seemed intimidated by the bright lights and big stage of the XCel Energy Center. The Beavers defense, led by a suffocating penalty kill shut down Minnesota Duluth's offense as the Beavers cruised to a 4-0 victory in the early semifinal of this year's tournament.
The Beavers would strike first at 12:58 of the first period when Matt Prapavessis' shot from the point through traffic beat Bulldog goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo to build a 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs would have a golden opportunity to tie the game late in the first period when UMD's Kyle Osterberg helped draw a five-minute charging penalty against the Beavers. The Bulldogs would put five shots on goal during the power play, but could not even the score.
Leo Fitzgerald would extend Bemidji State's lead midway through the second period when he took a nice pass from his triplet brother Gerry Fitzgerald to make it a 2-0 game; a score that would hold through the end of the second frame.
The Bulldogs would threaten to score early in the third period to cut into the lead, but a Sam Windle rocket slap shot from the point would make it a 3-0 game, and put the game all but out of reach. Minnesota Duluth would have one last chance shortly after with :54 seconds of 5-on-3 power play, but could not convert, and shortly after the Beavers killed off the penalty, Kyle Bauman scored on a partial breakaway to make it 4-0 Bemidji State.
Bemidji State advances to tomorrow's championships game at 7pm, where they will take on the winner of the next semifinal between Minnesota State and Minnesota. The Bulldogs will play in tomorrow's consolation game at 4pm, meeting the loser of the second semifinal.
The win moves Bemidji State to 8-12-3 overall on the year, while the Bulldogs drop to 13-9-1.
Shots on Goal: UMD: 9-10-8-27 BSU: 10-9-7-26
Corsi(even strength shot attempts): UMD: 8-16-13-37 BSU: 9-11-8-28
Prime Scoring Area attempts: UMD: 5-6-9-20 BSU: 7-5-6-18
What do the numbers tell us?
Possession numbers were fairly equal, but Bemidji State did a much better job of working into the prime scoring areas of the ice to generate their chances. Minnesota Duluth was mostly held to the perimeter all night. If there's such a thing as an easy shutout, this was it for Bemidji State goalie Michael Bitzer.
- It's not as though Minnesota Duluth's offense didn't have their chances. They had some golden chances to get on the board with a five-minute major power play in the first period, and an extended 5-on-3 in the third period.
But Bemidji State did a brilliant job on the penalty kill all night long. They were very aggressive pressuring the Bulldogs on the perimeter, and UMD just wasn't sharp enough to handle that type of pressure.
That was pretty much the theme of the evening. The Beavers had a little more jump all game long, and UMD couldn't quite match that intensity.
-This game was a great example of good defense leading offense. Defenseman Sam Windle did yeoman's work on the power play all night, and ended up being rewarded with his first goal of the season in the third period.
Meanwhile, forward Kyle Bauman made one of the biggest defensive plays of the game in the second period when his backcheck was just enough to break up a clean shot at the net for UMD's Willie Raskob that saved a goal at a time when the game was still 1-0. Bauman was reward with a pretty breakaway goal late in the game.
-There was a bit of controversy with Bemidji State's first goal. A Bemidji State player was awfully close to being in the crease, and awfully close to obstructing UMD goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo. After review, the goal stood, but I could have seen it going either way. In the end, there's no doubt Bemidji State was the better team in this one, so it didn't matter too much.
12:58- Matt Prapavessis from Brendan Harms and Cory Ward 1-0 Bemidji State
Harms took the puck off the left wall and passed it to Prapavessis at the left point. Prapavessis took a few strides in and fired a wrist shot that beat Kaskisuo to the blocker side.
9:26- Leo Fitzgerald from Gerry Fitzgerald and Matt Prapavesis 2-0 Bemidji State
Gerry Fitzgerald brought the puck into the zone down the right wing on a 2-on-1. He passed the puck over to his brother on the left wing, who wristed a shot past Kaskisuo.
2:48-Sam Windle from Phil Marinaccio 3-0 Bemidji State
A puck rolled out to Windle at the right point, who wound up a fired a blistering slap shot that went through traffic and beat Kaskisuo to the blocker side.
9:30-Kyle Bauman unassisted 4-0 Bemidji State
Bauman picked up a UMD turnover at the UMD blueline and broke in uncontested on Kaskisuo. He deked to his backhand and beat Kaskisuo to the blocker side.