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Beavers clinch title game spot, top Liberty 3-1

Carter scores twice in winning effort

Ryan Ladik/MDN Drew Carter possesses the puck in the offensive zone during the Beavers' March 18 game against Jamestown. He scored a pair of goals in MSU’s 3-1 victory on Monday.

The Minot State Beavers prevailed in another narrow tournament contest Monday night, downing the Liberty University Flames 3-1 to secure their spot in the ACHA Division I National Championship game Tuesday night.

The Beavers were in search of a bit more production in the offensive zone, coming off a pair of 2-1 victories in their first two games of the tournament. Minot State dominated Calvin University in the shot column 40-15 Saturday afternoon and threw 25 shots on Lindenwood’s net Sunday, but goals have proven scarce for the Beavers’ offensive unit.

Their Monday opponent, on the other hand, had no difficulties finding the back of the net through its first two tournament games. Prior to its matchup with Minot State, Liberty had outscored Maryville University and Ohio University 19-2, including a 9-0 shutout victory over Maryville in which the Flames recorded 55 shots on net.

Minot State looked to have cracked the scoreboard first when Dalton Dosko threw the puck on net from the right corner just over three minutes into the affairs. Liberty netminder Hunter Virostek was glued to the near side of the goalpost on the play, though, and immediately smelled something fishy.

The referees came over to investigate the net itself at the request of Virostek and his skaters. After hearing Liberty’s case and engaging in a brief consultation between the benches, the men in stripes waved off the opening tally, claiming the puck had somehow found its way under the side of the net itself instead of legally going through Virostek in front. Per Minot State hockey’s official Twitter account, it was the third goal of the tournament the Beavers had called off the board.

Play resumed, and neither team could solve the opposing netminder. Minot State received a chance on the man advantage with 12 minutes and 12 seconds left, looking to improve the success rate of a power play that converted only 14.8 percent of its opportunities in the regular season, but the Flame’s penalty kill quickly dispatched of the chance.

The two teams entered the locker room at the end of the first intermission deadlocked in a scoreless game with the Beavers outshooting Liberty 8-4.

The second period proved much more eventful than the first. Liberty scored the first legally scored goal of the contest three minutes and four seconds into the frame, when Beavers netminder Chad Duran left his crease to retrieve the puck behind the net.

The goalie slid a pass behind him, apparently unaware that the Flames’ Zak Albers was right behind him. Albers flicked the puck in Minot State’s wide-open net to take an early 1-0 lead.

The Beavers struck back near the midway point of the period. Adam Wowryk gained possession of the puck in the left circle and ripped a pass to the opposite side to Dylan Cassie. Cassie paused a moment and flung a shot that squeaked through Virostek, tying the game at one goal apiece with 11 minutes and 52 seconds left.

Minot State would later tally one more just before the second pause in action, when Drew Carter rang the puck in Liberty’s net off a rebound near the right side of the crease on Minot State’s 20th shot of the game. When the horn sounded signaling the second intermission, the Beavers held a 2-1 lead entering the locker room.

Chad Duran shut the Flames out in the final frame, adding an impressive glove save with 11 minutes and 53 seconds left that saw the goaltender go from the left post to right and rob Liberty of game-tying goal with a dive forward, snatching the puck in midair as he fell. Carter later buried the puck in an empty Flames net for his second goal of the game with 40 seconds on the clock, sealing the 3-1 victory.

With the win, the Beavers will now turn their focus to the Adrian College Bulldogs, their opponent in the Tuesday national championship game. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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