The Beaver’s finished the season with a 15-18-5 record, but gained some credibility in their new conference, holding their own for most of the game.
The Beavers had a very strong first period, out-shooting the Pioneers 18-10. The 18 shots, were just 3 shy of the previous night’s total shots for all three periods plus overtime.
The Beavers fell behind early, when Denver scored a power play goal, tipping a shot through the legs of junior goaltender Dan Bakala. The goal was scored 6:15 minutes into the game.
The Beavers responded quickly, when junior defenseman Brad Hunt picked up a loose puck in the defensive zone and passed it to sophomore forward Jordan George. George put a nice move on the defender, and then put a nifty backhand on net, beating the Denver netminder on the short side.
The Beavers added one more goal by the end of the period, this one from freshmen forward Radoslav Illo. Illo came streaking off the bench on a delayed Pioneer penalty, and buried a rebound. Assisting on Illo’s goal was sophomore forward Aaron McLeod and senior defenseman Dan MacIntyre.
The Beavers controlled the momentum for the rest of the period, and came out strong in the second. Then the Pioneers responded with a power play goal, to tie the game.
The game remained tied going into the third period. The Beavers had a huge opportunity to take the lead with a five on three power play starting the third period.
“I think if you get a goal early and you go up by one goal at the start of the third period, it gets your bench going a little bit,” said George of the start of the third. “If we don’t score, it kind of deflates the guys and we were on our heels the rest of the period. I think that was a huge turning point in the game.”
The Beaver’ failed to score on the five on three, and allowed a stunning 4 more unanswered goals, to seal the fate of the season.
“I’m very proud of the effort,” said Head Coach Tom Serratore after the game. “The character and the resiliency this group showed over the course of the last month going into the playoffs, having to go to Omaha and doing what we did, and coming here and winning last night.”
The end of the season marks the last games in Bemidji uniforms for six seniors: forwards Matt Read, Ian Lowe, Emil Billberg and Ryan Cramer, and defensemen Ryan Adams and Dan MacIntyre.
Read has led or tied for the lead in scoring for the Beavers in every one of his four seasons. As a sophomore, he helped lead the Beavers to their historic Frozen Four run in Washington D.C., as well as the first year in the WCHA this season.
The Beavers will regroup during the off season, and take the ice again next season in their second season at the Sanford Center and in the WCHA.