BEMIDJI, Minn. â€“ Minnesota Duluth used the same script for a second straight Friday to remain unbeaten.
Center Travis Oleksuk tipped a Dylan Olsen power-play drive with 7.9 seconds left in overtime to give the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs a 3-2 win over Bemidji State in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game before 3,876 fans at the new Sanford Center. A week earlier, UMDâ€™s J.T Brown scored 31 seconds into overtime to beat Alaska Anchorage 3-2 at the DECC.
Hereâ€™s what Fridayâ€™s road victory meant for UMD (6-0-1 and 3-0 WCHA): it left the Bulldogs as the only unbeaten WCHA team and tied for the league lead. It made UMD 8-1-10 the last 19 overtime games and broke a three-game losing streak against Bemidji State, a new WCHA member this season.
It left Bemidji State 0-3 and winless in three games in its new $40 million home.
â€œOnce Bemidji found its legs, they came at us hard and we werenâ€™t playing great the last two periods,â€ said Oleksuk, who leads Division I with four game-winning goals. â€œBut we keep showing that we are going to play hard until the buzzer. We are going to keep going. It was an even game.â€
UMD started particularly well, getting off to a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game on power-play goals from Mike Connolly and J.T. Brown. Connolly scored from the crease just 46 seconds into the game and Brown, a freshman, recorded his fourth goal of the season on a backhand attempt from the left wide with 9:57 left.
Bemidji State, which didnâ€™t play last weekend, rallied with goals 100 seconds apart in the final five minutes of the opening period. Star center Matt Read put in a power-play rebound for his 45th career goal with 4:41 to go and winger Jordan George finished off some excellent offensive pressure with a shot from the crease with 3:01 remaining.
â€œAfter we scored, we had good sustained pressure and energy. We went after them,â€ said Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore. â€œThe layoff wasnâ€™t a big thing. We were just facing a great hockey team.â€
Readâ€™s goal broke a shutout streak at 134 minutes and 21 seconds for UMD freshman goalie Aaron Crandall, spanning three games. Alex Stalock holds the UMD record at 147:45 in 2008.
In the third period, UMDâ€™s Jake Hendrickson missed on an open shot with 7:53 left. Bemidji State goalie Dan Bakala was sharp in making 31 saves as UMD led in final shots 34-28.
â€œWe had to counter-punch a little because Bemidji had us on our heels for a time in the last two periods,â€ said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. â€œBut we got a timely goal and we got timely goaltending for a second straight Friday. Aaron made at least two or three great saves there at the end and thatâ€™s what you need.â€
In the first minute of overtime, the Beavers were all around the UMD net, but couldnâ€™t cash in. Then Brown put a puck around the boards and out to Kyle Schmidt for a breakaway with two minutes left in the five-minute period. Bemidji State defenseman Brad Hunt was called for tripping Schmidt on the way to the net, setting up a power play for the rest of OT. The Bulldogs needed nearly every bit.
Oleksuk, stationed right in front of Bakala in the crease, got his 15th career goal.
â€œThis was another great character win,â€ said Schmidt. â€œWe didnâ€™t crumble after losing our lead, we stayed with it. We kept it close and made the best of our chance in overtime.â€
Michigan Tech came into the weekend as the only other unbeaten WCHA team, but lost 5-2 at Wisconsin and is 3-1-2. UMDâ€™s six-game win streak is its longest since recording six straight playoff wins in March of 2009, and the seven-game unbeaten streak is the best to start a season since winning eight straight to open 1989-90
Minnesota Duluth Â Â Â 2-0-0-1â€”3
Bemidji StateÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 2-0-0-0â€”2
First period â€“ 1. UMD, Mike Connolly 6 (Justin Faulk), :46 (pp); 2. UMD, J.T. Brown 4 (Kyle Schmidt, Dylan Olsen), 10:03 (pp); 3. Bemidji State, Matt Read 2 (Ian Lowe, Brad Hunt), 15:19 (pp); 4. Bemidji State, Jordan George 3 (Lowe, Brady Wacker), 16:59. Penalties â€“ Jake Areshenko, Bemidji State (holding), :27; Shea Walters, Bemidji State (5-minute major contact to head, game misconduct, served by Darcy Findlay), 8:36; David Grun, UMD (tripping), 14:04; Joe Basaraba, UMD (elbowing), 18:40.
Second period â€“ No scoring. Penalties â€“ Grun, UMD (roughing), 2:02; Drew Fisher, Bemidji State (slashing), 2:57; Schmidt, UMD (cross-checking), 3:42; Garrett Ladd, Bemidji State (tripping), 5:42; Matt Carlson, Bemidji State (slashing), 9:57; Wacker, Bemidji State (high-sticking), 18:35; Fontaine, UMD (embellishment), 18:35.
Third period — No scoring. Penalties — None.
Overtime â€“ 5. UMD, Travis Oleksuk 5 (Dylan Olsen, Brown), 4:53 (pp). Penalty â€“ Hunt, Bemidji State (tripping), 3:02.
Shots on goal â€“ UMD 15-11-4-4â€”34, Bemidji State 8-7-11-2â€”28. Goalies â€“ Aaron Crandall (3-0), Duluth (28 shots-26 saves); Dan Bakala (0-3), Bemidji State (34 shots-31 saves). Power plays â€“ UMD 3-of-6, Bemidji State 1-of-5. Referees â€“ Don Adam, Tim Walsh. Linesmen â€“ Justin Hills, Andy Dokken. A â€“ 3,876.