Bemidji State University surprised the Minnesota hockey world a little bit when it toppled the top-ranked men's hockey team in the country, the MSU Mankato Mavericks, 3-1 Saturday night to win the North Star College Cup and be declared – for the weekend at least – the best college hockey team in the state, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
The Beavers reached the championship game after knocking off the University of Minnesota, Duluth 4-0 in the first-round game Friday night. They were the only unranked team in the field, and the only one with a losing record (9-12-3).
“You take a look at the field, three of the best teams in the country,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said, according to the Bemidji Pioneer. “I’m especially proud for the guys to win this trophy. With all the instate teams in this tournament, our guys earned it.”
The Beavers dominated nearly the entire game, going up 3-0 in the second period before the Mavericks (19-5-1) scored their only goal with less than a minute left in the frame.
Neither team scored in the third.
Bemidji State goalie Michael Bitzer gave up only one goal over the weekend, and that came in Saturday night's game when the puck deflected off a teammate into the net. He made 26 saves against the Mavericks, according to the Pioneer Press.
In the consolation game, the No. 7 UMD Bulldogs defeated the 17th-ranked Gophers 2-1 Saturday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center.
The Gophers were down by one when Kyle Rau tied the game 1-1 on a power play goal, just 30 seconds into the third period, according to GopherSports.com.
UMD's Adam Krause scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal at 17:49 of the third period. He also scored the Bulldogs' other goal in the first period.
Adam Wilcox made 24 saves for the Gophers (11-9-2 overall, 2-2-2-0 Big Ten), while Matt McNeely saved 31 in a winning effort for the Bulldogs (14-9-1, 8-5-1 NCHC).
The North Star College Cup tournament is in its second year, and features four of Minnesota’s five Division I men’s hockey programs. It came about after a realignment split up the Minnesota schools into different conferences, so the North Star Cup is designed to keep the in-state rivalries going.
The University of Minnesota is the event’s permanent host. St. Cloud State University didn't participate in this year's competition, and Bemidji State sat out last year.