Grand Forks, ND – Fighting Sioux defenseman Ben Blood said last week that, “the playoffs are the best time of year; you get to end other team’s seasons.”
The Fighting Sioux are looking to end the Bemidji State Beavers’ season and advance to the WCHA Final Five in St. Paul next weekend.
North Dakota has hosted the first round of the WCHA playoffs for 10 seasons in a row and has made the Final Five nine seasons in a row.
That is currently the WCHA’s longest streak. The Fighting Sioux are looking to make it 10 straight trips to the Final Five.
The Fighting Sioux are one game closer to that feat as they won game one of the series 4-1.
Eliminating the Beavers is not going to be an easy task; the Bemidji State Beavers are a small, quick and tenacious team that gets pucks deep and forechecks the opposition relentlessly. The Beavers are on top of you from the drop of the first puck to the final horn of the game.
Tonight was no different.
True to form, the upstart Beavers didn’t disappoint and they bottled up the Fighting Sioux and gave them a small number of offensive opportunities and carried the play for a good part of the game.
The Beavers proved against tonight that they are a tough team to play against and they didn’t give the Fighting Sioux very much and they took away the Fighting Sioux’s time and space.
Fighting Sioux coach Dave Hakstol seemed happy to get the win in tonight’s game.
“Well we got a win in game one of the series, playing against a good hockey team, that played awful hard tonight,” Hakstol said. “If you look at our performance there was a lot of good to it, much too sporadic for playoff time. We need to challenge ourselves tomorrow to be at a higher level, on a more consistence basis throughout our game.”
Tonight, was the night of the goaltender.
Fighting Sioux junior goalie Aaron Dell brought his “A” game against the Beavers and he kept them off of the score sheet for the first 54 minutes, 8 seconds of the game, stopping many grade “A” opportunities. Many of them came from down low, and the Beavers also hit three pipes.
Dell would finally get beat by an Aaron McLeod goal on the power play at 14:08 mark of the third period. Aaron Dell was the difference in this game and a bright spot for the Fighting Sioux tonight.
“I thought it was a close game. Scoring chances were probably close to even if not dead even,” Hakstol said. “Aaron [Dell] did a good job tonight. He has done for us the last few weeks.”
On the other end of the ice, Bemidji State senior goalie Dan Bakala was also very good, stopping 19 of 23 shots, many of which were grade “A” scoring chances as well. Beaver coach Tom Serratore was impressed with both goaltenders.
“I thought both goaltenders played very well,” Serratore said. “It was a very good goaltending duel.”
For the Fighting Sioux, junior forward Carter Rowney led the way with three assists.
With the loss, the Beavers drop to their record to 17-17-3 and need to win game two of the series tomorrow night to keep their season alive.
With the win tonight the Fighting Sioux improves its record to 21-12-3.
Game two in the best-of-three series is tomorrow night at 7:07 p.m.