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Bemidji State Pulls Off Upset with Empty Net Game-Winning Goal

It’s rare to see a team from the bottom half of the WCHA pull off an upset win over the top four teams in the WCHA standings—who also happen to occupy the top four spots in the national poll this week. But Bemidji State was able to pull off the rare upset on Friday night, with a 3-2 victory over #2 Ohio State and did so in one of the most improbable ways possible.

The Beavers were badly outshot throughout the game. Final shots on goal were 53-16 in favor of the Buckeyes, including 24-3 in the first period. But Bemidji State got a terrific performance in goal from senior Kerigan Dowhy, and somehow found themselves tied 2-2 in the waning minutes of regulation.

With 10 seconds remaining in the third period, the Buckeyes took a shot from the point into traffic and came close to scoring. How close? This close:

Bemidji State’s Paige Beebe picked the puck up off the goal line and fired it down the ice, into an empty goal cage on the other end of the ice as time expired to give Bemidji State the 3-2 victory.

Wait....what?

Yes, Ohio State had pulled their goalie in a tie game, hoping to secure a regulation victory, while taking the risk of giving up the rare empty-net game-winning goal. The reason for doing so makes perfect sense, as well.

The Buckeyes are currently battling it out with Wisconsin and Minnesota for the WCHA regular season title. Minnesota is set to close out the regular season with one more game against seventh place St. Cloud State and a pair of games against last place St. Thomas. It’s a safe assumption that Minnesota will win those three games, and end the season with a points percentage—the league moved to points percentage when Covid cancellations caused an unequal number of games—of 81%. The only way that Ohio State could pass Minnesota would be if they also ran the table, winning that game against Bemidji State, and then winning their final three games—including a pair against Wisconsin next weekend—in regulation.

So there was really nothing for Ohio State to lose by pulling their goalie. They still control their own destiny for second place in the league when they meet Wisconsin next weekend, and even then, the difference between second and third is fairly low stakes, since they’ll likely meet each other in the WCHA Frozen Faceoff semifinal regardless.

But it made for one of the most thrilling and unique finishes to a game in the college hockey season.