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April 18, 2024

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Hockey takes one of two against Bemidji State

The Falcon hockey team split their series against the Bemidji State Beavers, losing 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday night, but defeating them 3-1 on Friday night.

“Getting four out of six points against a really good team that was picked to finish second in our league, I feel okay about it,” Falcons head coach Chris Bergeron said. “I’m not happy about giving away two points that matter by not having a good third period at home, which we’ve done before. That’s disappointing, but I think when we look at it from the big picture, four out of six points is positive.”

The team got off to a good start on Saturday night, as senior forward Brett D’Andrea scored at the 12:39 mark of the first period to give the Falcons the 1-0 lead. However, Bemidji State would capitalize on a late power play chance with forward Adam Brady to even it up with just over a minute remaining in the period.

In the second, the teams remained tied for most of the period until just over four minutes remained, when freshman forward Sam Craggs scored his first collegiate goal to put the Falcons up 2-1. The score would remain there until the teams headed into the locker rooms.

“It felt good,” S. Craggs said of his first goal. “I got a lucky bounce, and I was able to put it home.”

The third saw the score stay the same throughout much of the first part of the period, but Bemidji State began fighting their way back at the 7:32 mark as defenseman Dillon Eichstadt scored, then again at the 14:19 mark as defenseman Ian Janco scored to give Bemidji State their first lead of the series. However, as the Falcons went with the empty net late in regulation time, sophomore forward Lukas Craggs scored with just 54 seconds left to force the game into overtime.

In the first overtime period, both teams went scoreless despite three shots for the Falcons and one for Bemidji State, forcing the game into a three on three double overtime. However, in the second overtime period, it was Bemidji State that led in shots on net, with four to the Falcons’ one. Neither team was able to score, sending the game into a shootout, the fourth of the season for the Falcons.

Bemidji State started off the shootout with forward Jay Dickman, and he slowly carried the puck through the slot to beat sophomore goaltender Ryan Bednard glove side to put themselves up 1-0 in the shootout. Needing a goal to keep themselves alive, the Falcons sent up junior forward Stephen Baylis, but his shot was saved by goaltender Michael Bitzer to seal the 4-3 Bemidji State victory.

“Bemidji State played extremely hard,” Bergeron said. “Just the way they play, their system piece, it seems like they’re always in the way, and we really struggled against them with taking what the game gives us. If the game gives us ice, we want to pass, if the game gives us no ice, we want to try to skate, and that seems to be the way it’s been the last five or six times we’ve played them.”

On Friday night, neither team was able to get on the board in the first period, and both teams had two power play opportunities neither were able to capitalize on. Each team hit the post on a shot chance in the first, as well.

The second period saw the Falcons kill off a five-minute power play before freshman forward Brandon Kruse scored midway through the period to give the team a 1-0 lead, which they would hold onto going into the third period.

“Our power play hasn’t been good enough, especially in the second segment of the season,” Bergeron said. “I think those guys that kill penalties for us, they took it personally and wanted to do better… I thought the details were pretty good, I thought our clears for the most part were pretty good, I thought we made them earn the zone for the most part, all of the things we want to do well on the penalty kill.”

In the third, Bemidji State was able to get on the board, with Mike Soucier scoring at the 6:19 mark just three seconds after a Falcons power play chance concluded to tie the game back up. With the teams still even as time began winding down in regulation, it looked as though the Falcons might head into their second overtime game in a row, but sophomore defenseman Niko Coffman scored his first collegiate goal with 1:12 remaining, shooting through a screen and beating Bemidji State goaltender Michael Bitzer to take a 2-1 lead. However, the Falcons would not be done yet, as senior forward Mitch McLain scored an empty net goal to make it a 3-1 win.

“We were in a game all night,” Bergeron said. “I don’t think we executed very well, but we found a way to lead. We had a big kill on the five minute (penalty), there were some good things to get behind and create some momentum for us.”

Coffman also said staying involved in practice helped him to be in position to get the goal.

“It’s a lot of hard work in practice over the last couple of years,” Coffman said. “It’s a dream come true for me especially, so it’s awesome.”

The team will next play Friday and Saturday nights, finishing out their six game home stand against the Alabama Huntsville Chargers.

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