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Bemidji State survives slow start

BSU freshman Owen Sillinger (12) scores in the second period against Alaska on Friday at the Sanford Center. Jillian Gandsey / Forum News Service

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Zach Driscoll bailed out the Bemidji State men’s hockey team in the first period Friday night, Jan. 11, as the Beavers recovered to win 3-0 in the first game of a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series at the Sanford Center.

“We were out to lunch in the first period,” said head coach Tom Serratore, “and that’s why you have a goalie. Driscoll played well and made some key saves.”

BSU was outshot 16-7 in the opening frame, but the sophomore netminder stopped every one of them to keep his team in the game.

“I mean, obviously, it works both ways,” Driscoll said. “There’s some nights where I’m having trouble and they bail me out. That’s just the way it worked tonight.

“It was a little bit of a slow start in the first period. We got out of there with a 0-0 tie game, and just kind of wiped the slate clean.”

The Beavers (10-10-3, 8-6-1-0 WCHA) broke through for a pair of goals in the second period.

Owen Sillinger scooped up a rebound in front of the crease and deposited for the game’s opening goal.

Later in the period, Tyler Vold extended the lead to 2-0. The sophomore defenseman’s shot deflected off the post and in for his second goal of the year.

“They redeemed themselves, we got a couple goals, and then we got into a rhythm,” Serratore said.

BSU outshot Alaska 29-9 over the last two periods, a dramatic turnaround from the first.

“They know when they don’t play well,” Serratore said of his team entering the second period. “They know that they didn’t have any legs, any physicality, the whole nine yards. It was a horrendous period. But we survived it, and then we played hockey after that and we got into a groove and took care of business.”

The defense held the Nanooks (4-15-2, 4-10-1-1 WCHA) to just three shots on goal in the third period.

Ethan Somoza buried an empty-net goal with 2:02 to play to secure the 3-0 shutout win.

Driscoll, making his third consecutive start, made 25 saves in the win to improve to 5-3-1.

“That’s why I play goalie, right, is it’s a good feeling to be the rock back there,” Driscoll said. “... And like I said, they’ve bailed me out multiple times this season, and they’ll continue to bail me out. I’m glad we were able to bounce back the second half of that game.”

Anton Martinsson stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced in the opposing net.

The Beavers killed all five Alaska penalties, while the Nanooks also held BSU 0-for-3 on the power play.

Today’s series finale has an early start time of 5:07 p.m at the Sanford Center. The Beavers will hope to get going early as they try for the sweep.

“I think getting a good start tomorrow is going to be big,” Driscoll said. “Getting that first goal, making it tough on them and playing fast is going to be key tomorrow.”