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Recap: Thrilling Third Period Sends Bemidji State to NSCC Championship Game

Bemidji State defeats Minnesota 4-2, and earns a date with St. Cloud State for Minnesota College Hockey bragging rights.

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The reigning champions of the North Star Collegiate Cup will defend their title as the Bemidji State Beavers made a late third period comeback to defeat the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers 4-2. After a very lethargic effort by both teams in the first forty minutes, the final period of regulation in St. Paul turned into a good one. With less than five minutes left in the third, Bemidji State went on the power play. Shortly into the man advantage, Markus Gerbrandt registered the game-winning goal giving BSU lead for good and the right to championship game for a second straight year.

The Gophers got on the board first, early into the first period with Connor Reilly scoring his fourth goal of the season. Minnesota had ten shots on net in the first twenty minutes but Michael Bitzer was steady denying every other opportunity. It was an overall slow period for both teams with some especially sloppy turnovers by the Beavers early on.

But Bemidji State began the second period with an aggressive forecheck and had a handful of shots early in the second frame. The Beavers would tie it up eight minutes in with John Parker netting his seventh goal of the season. Minnesota's offense was stale in the second, with just five shots on goal. A lot of that had to do with the neutral zone play by BSU who was out muscling Minnesota every chance they got.

The Gophers woke up in the third period with Justin Kloos getting the go ahead goal. The play started with Mike Reilly streaking in and putting a shot on goaltender Michael Bitzer who thought the puck was underneath him. Instead, the puck was sitting along on the blue paint and Kloos banked it home giving Minnesota a 2-1 lead with thirteen minutes left in regulation. But just three minutes later, Cory Ward of the Beavers tied things up with his seventh goal of the season. Then the icing on the cake for Bemidji was Gerbrandt's empty net goal (his second of the night) clinching the 4-2 win and a date with St. Cloud State in the championship game on Sunday at 4pm.