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BULLDOGS AMBUSHED IN OVERTIME BY BEMIDJI STATE IN FINAL FIVE OPENER
Thursday, March 17, 2011
No team in college hockey has enjoyed more success in overtime than the University of Minnesota Duluth during the 2010-11 season. But that didn't seem to faze Bemidji State University Thursday night.
The Beavers did what only one other club has done in 14 tries this winter -- beat the No. 11 Bulldogs after the end of regulation -- when Shea Walters scored on the power play 6:12 into overtime to give the Beavers a 3-2 win in the opening game of the WCHA Final Five tournament. Bemidji State now moves on to Friday afternoon's semifinals against theUniversity of Denver while the Bulldogs, who had won an NCAA-best six overtime games coming into the night, dropped to 22-10-6, but are all but assured a spot in the 16-team NCAA Tournament, which starts next week.
UMD led 2-1 after 20 minutes on goals from junior All-American center Jack Connolly and fellow All-WCHA first teammer Mike Connolly with Brad Hunt countering for the Beavers (15-17-5). Jack Connolly's goal came off a redirect of freshman defenseman Justin Faulk's shot from the left point while Mike Connolly, with UMD a man down, teamed with senior right winger Justin Fontaine on a 2-on-1 breakaway, tucking a shot between the pads of Bemidji State netminder Dan Bakala for his team-leading 26th goal of the season (and third shorthander).
That one-goal advantage held up until 28 seconds into the third period when Matt Read wristed in a shot from the left faceoff circle to draw the Beavers even. With less than four minutes to go, Bemidji State had a great chance to win the first postseason game ever between the two intrastate rivals, but Bulldog junior goaltender Kenny Reiter snuffed Jamie McQueen's penalty shot attempt.
"We came in and did what we had to do," said Mike Connolly. "We jumped out early, got that second goal right after they scored and then took a lead into the third period.
"We've done pretty well in overtime this year, but tonight obviously wasn't our night. Mainly, it was because of a lack of effort from players. We now need to regroup and get ready for next weekend."
Reiter (12-7-5) finished with 18 saves for the Bulldogs, who were 0-of-1 with the man advantage and have received just one power play opportunity in their last seven-plus periods (including overtime) of hockey. Bakala made 20 stops and, like Reiter, none in extra session.
"The one thing about this team is that when they've had their backs against the wall this year, they've responded the right way ever time," said head coach Scott Sandelin, whose Bulldogs were appearing in a program-best third straight WCHA Final Five. "We have another chance, so hopefully our guys can continue to do what they've done all year."
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