FAIRBANKS, Alaska (Carlson Center) – Just 24 hours after suffering its first shutout loss in nearly a year, the Bemidji State University men’s hockey team returned the favor Saturday, earning a 4-0 shutout victory over University of Alaska at Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Special teams play was the difference in the game. Bemidji State jumped out to an early 2-0 lead converting its first two power-play opportunities before its penalty-kill unit held the Nanooks scoreless on six man advantage opportunities. The unit finished the weekend a perfect 9-for-9 and climbs to among the top five penalty-killing units in the nation at nearly 88 percent.
Former Aberdeen Wings captain Cory Ward (F, So., Las Vegas, Nev.) posted a pair of goals and Radoslav Illo (F, Sr., Bystrica, Slovakia) posted a goal and an assist to lead the BSU attack, while Andrew Walsh (G, Jr., Dawson Creek, British Columbia) turned aside 25 shots en route to his second shutout of the season an fifth of his career.
Bemidji State was the first team to break through. A night after being shutout, the Beavers took a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the night. Illo carried the puck into the zone and unleashed a laser from the high slot that would find the back of the net. Matt Prapavessis (D, Jr., Oakville, Ontario) and Jeff Jubinville (F, Sr., Edmonton, Alberta) were credited with the assists on the play.
The BSU penalty-kill unit was tested early, but the unit would set the tone blanking the Nanooks on three consecutive power-play opportunities in the second half of the first period.
Phillip Marinaccio (F, Fr., Nobleton, Ontario) put Bemidji State up 2-0 before the end of the first collecting a rebound off a shot from the point by Illo and pushed it past the Nanooks’ goaltender for the fifth goal of his rookie season.
The Beavers skated to the dressing room after 20 minutes of play with a 2-0 lead and a 12-5 edge in shots on goal.
Bemidji State continued to hold control of the game in the second period despite being outshot 12-4 in the frame. Walsh stayed perfect through two, stopping 12 Nanook shots and BSU’s Ward recorded his team-leasing 15th goal of the season at the 5:20 mark with help from Markus Gerbrandt (F, So., Edmonton, Alberta) and Prapavessis.
Holding a 3-0 lead to open the third period, it took Bemidji State just 73 seconds to stretch its lead to four goals. Ward netted his second goal of the night flipping a backhand shot past Sean Cahill.
Bemidji State (8-13-7; 8-8-4 WCHA) will have the Jan. 31-Feb.1 weekend free from competition. The Beavers will return to action Feb. 6-7 when they travel to Minnesota State University, Mankato for a two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association series at the Verizon Wireless Center.
Two Aberdeen Wings players have committed to play for the Bemidji State University Beavers including forwards #15 Jordan Heller (F-Bemidji, MN) and #11 TJ Roo (F-Coon Rapids, MN).
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