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BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sanford Center) – Minnesota State University, Mankato took advantage of four second-period penalties to swing momentum and score a pair of goals Saturday in a 2-1 victory over Bemidji State University.
Gerry Fitzgerald was responsible for the Beavers’ lone goal, accounting for his second power-play strike of the weekend and his team-leading 12 goal of the season, while senior Jesse Wilkins got his second start of the season and made 17 saves, including 12 during the second-period alone, in the loss.
After a back-and-fourth first period, Minnesota State was whistled for a pair of penalties at the 12:50 mark when Nate Arentz led a rush and pushed for a scoring chance. Sean Flanagan was escorted to the box for a holding minor, while Carter Foguth saw his night end early due to a five-minute major, both in en effort to keep Arentz from scoring. The Beavers and G. Fitzgerald took advantage 43 seconds later with help from Phil Marinaccio and Zach Whitecloud.
The Beavers’ 1-0 lead would stretch into the second period.
The second period belonged to the Mavericks. BSU took four penalties, which set MSU up with four power-play chances, including a 1:28 of 3-on-5 play. Zeb Knutson scored the equalizer at the 13:06 mark. Zach Stepan and gave MSU the lead at the 16:37 mark with help from Brad McClure and Michael Huntebrinker.
Bemidji State pushed back in the third, out shooting MSU 11-2 but the Minnesota State goaltender, Jason Pawloski stood tall turning aside all 11 in the frame for a total of 27 in the victory.
Prior to the game, the Beavers recognized their seven seniors as Arentz, Brendan Harms, Marinaccio, Reid Mimmack, Charlie O’Connor, Carter Struthers and Wilkins all skated in their final regular-season home game. The class is responsible for a North Star College Cup title, securing BSU’s first WCHA home playoff series, a MacNaughton Cup championship and Bemidji State’s 22nd conference title.
The Beavers, the 2016-17 WCHA regular-season champions and owners of the WCHA playoffs No. 1 seed, will host eighth-seeded Northern Michigan University (12-20-4) at Sanford Center March 3, 4 and 5, if needed, in a best-of-three series. Opening face-off is set for 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday. If a third game is needed, Sunday’s start is set for 5:07 p.m.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
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