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MEN'S HOCKEY: Energized Bemidji State claws back to tie UND 2-2

Bemidji State defenseman Dillon Eichstadt (20) blocks the Beaver goal crease for goaltender Michael Bitzer in the first period of Saturday's hockey game against North Dakota at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. Nick Nelson / Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS, N.D.—A five-minute major and game misconduct is not normally a momentum booster, but it was for the Bemidji State men's hockey team Saturday night, Jan. 13.

The Beavers (11-7-6) held No. 7 North Dakota to one goal on the extended power play in the second period and Dillon Eichstadt scored an equalizer in the third to earn a 2-2 tie with the Fighting Hawks (12-6-6) in a non-conference battle at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Jordan Heller was given the five-minute penalty for checking from behind and Christian Wolanin scored a go-ahead goal to make it 2-1. But BSU killed off the last three minutes of the power play and gained new life in the process.

"When we killed off that five-minute major, we gave up a goal," BSU coach Tom Serratore said, "but as we killed that five-minute major off, I just thought we had a good hop in our step. From that point on I thought we were really in command the rest of the game."

The Beavers took advantage of a fortunate bounce to tie the game midway through the final frame.

Kyle Bauman's shot appeared to deflect off two skates—Eichstadt's and UND defenseman Colton Poolman's—and past goalie Cam Johnson for the equalizer at 9:43 of the third.

An up-and-down overtime saw scoring chances from both teams, but the final score stayed at 2-2.

Close games are to be expected with these teams. After Saturday, nine of the last 13 games in the series have been decided a goal or less.

"We've had some good games with them the last few years and we've had a few close ones," said BSU goalie Michael Bitzer, who made 29 saves, including five in overtime. "I think you've got to expect that, especially two high-energy teams, two teams that like to play fast."

UND had the bulk of possession in the first period and outshot BSU 12-3 in the opening frame. However, the teams went to intermission scoreless as Bitzer made some clutch saves in net.

Nick Jones scored his third goal of the series at 3:28 of the second period to put UND on the board first. Austin Poganski skated around the cage and fed Jones for the one-timer from point-blank range.

A hooking call on Dixon Bowen then set the Beavers up for their first power play.

Leo Fitzgerald helped create a traffic jam in front of the crease and bodied his way for a tip-in goal that tied the game at 1-1 at 13:15 of the second period. The goal was his first since Bemidji State's opening-night win over Minnesota Duluth Oct. 13 and a 15-game absence due to injury.

However, the lead didn't last long.

Heller was issued the five-minute major, giving UND an extended power play just 36 seconds after BSU tallied the tying goal.

Wolanin collected a loose puck in the slot and buried it past for the go-ahead goal about two minutes into the advantage, giving the Hawks a 2-1 lead with 4 minutes, 13 seconds left in the period.

The Beavers upped the ante in the third period and on. The game resulted in a 2-2 tie but BSU came away satisfied with their play late.

"We could have ended it a couple times," Serratore said. "I just really liked the possession we had. Again, we went a lot of back-to-back shifts in that third period. Once we won those back-to-back shifts, you could just feel that energy on the bench."

Bemidji State will return to Western Collegiate Hockey Association play next weekend with a series at Ferris State.

Bemidji State 2, No. 7 North Dakota 2

BSU 0 1 1 0—2

UND 0 2 0 0—2

First period—No scoring.

Second period—1, UND, Jones (Poganski, Poolman), 3:28; 2, BSU, L. Fitzgerald (Harris, Baudry), 13:15, PP; 3, UND, Wolanin (Adams, Bast), 15:47, PP.

Third period—4, BSU, Eichstadt (Bauman), 9:43.

Overtime—No scoring.

Goaltending (Shots-Saves)—BSU, Bitzer (31-29); UND, Johnson (20-18).

Austin Monteith

Austin Monteith is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He is an Illinois native and a Butler University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @amonteith92.

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