Final: Bemidji State 4, Minnesota Duluth 2

Four power-play goals tell the story.

Bemidji State broke a two-month victory drought Friday night by scoring four times with a man advantage in a 4-2 win over Minnesota Duluth in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s game before 3,013 howling patrons at the Sanford Center.

The deflating outcome left UMD with a sixth straight loss, its longest such streak in seven years.

The game was 2-2 after two periods before senior winger Brance Orban scored twice in the final 20 minutes. A 0-9-3 streak, the longest in more than a decade, was over and Bemidji State (6-17-6, 5-13-5 WCHA) had its first win since Dec. 15, 5-1 over Denver at the Sanford Center.

“That streak was weighing on us and we were doing anything we could to end it,” said Orban. “We were changing things at practice and with pregame rituals. This is a big weight off our shoulders.”

UMD (10-16-3, 8-12-3) led 1-0 and 2-1, and had bunches of chances, especially in the first period, to get further ahead. Yet goals have been difficult to come by this season, and very specifically in the third period, even though leading in shots on goal in most games (40-27 Friday).

During the losing streak, opponents have outscored UMD 13-0 in the final period. The Bulldogs have had leads, or been tied, in three of the six games.

“We had them on their heels in the first period, but it’s been a recurring thing that we can’t hold on to leads, or build on leads,” said UMD freshman defenseman Andy Welinski, who had a goal. “In the third period I don’t know if we’re lazy, or watching the puck, but we have breakdowns. It’s killing us.”

Freshman Alex Fons of Minnetonka, Minn., made his first collegiate start and played respectably. He saw Welinski snap a wrist shot from the high slot to beat goalie Andrew Walsh 5:39 into the game for a 1-0 lead.

Two second-period power play goals put Bemidji State into a 2-2 tie after 40 minutes.

Senior winger Ben Kinne tipped a man-advantage shot at the crease 4:15 into the period before the Bulldogs reclaimed the lead three minutes later as freshman Cal Decowski converted a Dan DeLisle rebound in front.

But seven seconds into a power play, from a faceoff in the offensive zone, Radoslav Illo cranked a shot with 3:54 left in the period. The Beavers had been operating at just 16 percent with a man advantage this season, yet were boiling hot on this night.

“It’s pretty black and white, we lose the special teams game 4-0,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin, whose team was 0-of-4 on power plays. “We had opportunities in the first period to score goals. We’ve had chances to put teams away and haven’t. Five-on-five we executed our game plan. The difference was the special teams.”

The Beavers, who came into the series averaging 2.15 goals a game, took the lead at 2:51 of the third period and made it 4-2 with 7:30 left on the prettiest goal of the net. Orban was wide open at the right circle. UMD had a short 5-on-3 power play and pulled Fons with 2:20 to play looking for any extra offense. The crazy third period featured checking-from-behind major penalties on each team.

Bemidji State had its first four power-play goal game since January of 2009 and UMD had its first six-game losing streak since Feb. 17-March 4, 2006.

“We started out well, and we’ve talked about building on a lead, but we faded out at the end,” said Fons, who played in the North American Hockey League the past two seasons. “I was able to make a couple of clean saves early and after that it’s like you’ve never been out of the game. I felt comfortable, but I still needed to be better when we were killing penalties.”

Freshman Matt McNeely made 11 straight starts through last Friday, a 4-2 loss to Minnesota State-Mankato, and junior Aaron Crandall started in Saturday’s 5-1 loss. Fons played the last seven minutes Saturday and played a period in a 3-1 exhibition win over the USA U18 team Jan. 26.

Minnesota Duluth……………. 1-1-0—2

Bemidji State………………….. 0-2-2—4

First period —1. UMD, Andy Welinski 3 (Cody Danberg, Drew Olson), 5:39. Penalties — Welinski, UMD (interference), 7:28; Jordan George, Bemidji State (roughing), 8:53; Adam Krause, UMD (roughing), 8:53.

Second period — 2. Bemidji State, Ben Kinne 4 (Cory Ward, Matt Prapavessis), 4:15 (pp); 3. UMD, Cal Decowski 2 (Dan DeLisle, Adam Krause), 7:13; 4. Bemidji State, Radoslav Illo 3 (Jordan George, Prapavessis), 16:04 (pp). Penalties — DeLisle, UMD (checking goalie), 3:31; Decowski, UMD (holding), 15:58; Jake Areshenko, Bemidji State (holding), 19:29.

Third period — 5. Bemidji State, Brance Orban 7 (Aaron McLeod), 2:51 (pp); 6. Bemidji State, Orban 8 (Danny Mattson, Sam Rendle), 12:30 (pp). Penalties — Austin Farley, UMD (5-minute checking-from-behind major, 10-minute game misconduct, served by Max Tardy), :38; Brady Wacker, Bemidji State (5-minute checking-from-behind major, 10-minute game misconduct, severed by Markus Gerbrandt), 5:51; Welinski, UMD (cross checking), 6:41; Rendle, Bemidji State (hooking), 7:00; Keegan Flaherty, UMD (holding), 11:04; Jake Areshenko, Bemidji State (holding), 14:33.

Shots on goal — UMD 11-19-10—40, Bemidji State 8-9-10—27. Goalies — Alex Fons (0-1), UMD (27 shots-23 saves); Andrew Walsh (5-10-4), Bemidji State (40 shots-38 saves). Power plays — UMD 0-of-4, Bemidji State 4-of-6. Referees —Tom Sterns, Chris Perrault. Linesmen — Andy Dokken, Justin Hills.  A — 3,013.