Beavers Best Gophers in North Star Cup Opener

Photo by Craig Cotner
Markus Gerbrandt celebrates the game winning goal for Bemidji State (Photo by Craig Cotner)
Bemidji Comes Back in 3rd to Beat Minnesota 4-2

St. Paul, MN – “I’m embarrassed for myself and for our team today.”

Justin Kloos did not mince words after the Gophers’ 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Bemidji State Beavers Saturday evening, visibly upset at the effort and the result of yet another Gopher loss at the hands of an in-state rival.

Connor Reilly summed it up with a little more verbosity: “We didn’t compete hard, didn’t support the puck, didn’t manage the puck at all.”

All this from a game that the Gophers (13-11-0 Overall, 8-2-0 B1G) led with less than 10 minutes to go in the third. But it would not be enough. The Beavers (11-10-5 Overall, 7-9-4 WCHA) scored on a bad defensive zone effort at 11:00 of the third to tie, and again at 16:06 on the powerplay to take the lead. They added an empty netter at 18:54 to seal the deal.

Minnesota actually came out with a bit of fire early in the first period, and were rewarded with an early goal. Connor Reilly drove down the left wing and knocked in a juicy rebound off of Justin Kloos’ shot from the right circle to get the Gophers on the board with a 1-0 lead at 3:33 of the game. Minnesota held the puck a lot and had quite a bit of zone time in the first ten minutes of play, but Bemidji State started clawing their way back in, doing a good job of clogging lanes and generally stifling the Gopher advances up the ice.

BSU tied it in the second when John Parker got his own rebound off of a point-blank shot in front and popped it past Gopher goalie Eric Schierhorn. Gopher coach Don Lucia was more even-keel than the angry and emotional upperclassmen, but he agreed that the effort level was not where it needed to be to win the game. “We had about a dozen guys who didn’t have their best games tonight.” Lucia also commented that the second period was “when the game turned,” and that the Gophers did not do enough to “play behind [Bemidji’s] defense. They have veteran forwards but three freshman D, and we didn’t do enough to put pressure on them.”

Minnesota again took the lead midway through the third when Justin Kloos poked the puck over the goal line to give the Gophers a 2-1 lead, but it would not last. Cory Ward’s 11:00 goal tied it, and Markus Gerbrandt’s PP goal at 16:06 was the game-winner.

Kloos and Reilly both mentioned that the team did not give a full effort in the game. “Honestly we played pretty poor all night,” said Kloos, adding that he “can’t think of an upperclassmen that played well.” Reilly was also upset, but seemed focused on the battle with a tough Minnesota State team on Sunday. “I can tell you [the lack of effort] won’t happen tomorrow,” Reilly stated. “We’ve gotta start playing for each other. We didn’t play a full 60 [minutes] tonight.”

Minnesota moves on to face Minnesota State in the consolation game Sunday. The puck drops at 1PM. Please note if you’re attending the game, that the St. Paul Winter Carnival is going on right now in Rice Park, so plan to arrive a bit early due to the increased traffic (and difficulty parking) around the stadium.