Beavers avoid sweep
With a hop in their collective step and a chip on their collective shoulder, the Bemidji State Beavers collected their first College Hockey America Conference victory Saturday night at the John Glas Fieldhouse, blanking Robert Morris 3-0.
It was a different story from the night before when the upstart Colonials in their third season of Division I hockey came into the Glas and beat the Beavers 3-2.
Matt Pope scored two goals and Luke Erickson added the other, while goaltender Matt Climie rejected all 26 Robert Morris shots to pick up his first shutout of the season. But this wasn't about individual play. It was about restoring order to a team still searching for its identity.
"We played Beaver hockey tonight," said Climie. "We knew coming in that the first goal was going to be huge, and I didn't want to let that first one in."
Coach Tom Serratore called this a must-win game, considering Bemidji State had lost two of its first three CHA contests and tied the other. It also was important to turn things around before next weekend, when Niagara comes to town for two games. Niagara and the Beavers were pre-season favorites to win the conference.
"We had better jump tonight," Serratore said. "We were a lot more difficult to play against than we were (Friday) night. I'm happy for Matt Climie, but for the whole team to get a shutout. That's a team win right there."
Pope, a junior from Langley, B.C., scored his first two goals of the season to go along with four assists. He made his presence felt early in the game with several big hits. His parents made the trip to Bemidji, as they have for the first home series of each season.
"My dad knows my game, and he told me in order to get into the game you've got to run somebody over," Pope said. "He said on the first shift I should pick somebody out and run him over."
The Beavers didn't make it easy on themselves in the opening period. They had to withstand three Colonial power plays. On the first two, Robert Morris failed to get a shot on goal as Bemidji did a good job of forechecking. But on the third, the visitors started clicking. They hit the pipe with one attempt, then appeared to take the lead for the second straight night. But a goal was disallowed when Colonial Jeff Gilbert was whistled for interference as the puck slid across the line.
Bemidji State had a few good scoring chances in the opening period against Robert Morris goalie Joe Tuset. The Beavers' Rob Sirianni walked in twice on Tuset during a power play only to be turned away. BSU's Brandon Marino had an opportunity to send the Beavers to the locker room with a lead, but his shot went over the net just ahead of the buzzer.
"Goals didn't come easy tonight," said Serratore.
Pope broke the scoreless tie with a rebound goal early in the second period. Just after the Beavers killed another penalty, Pope rushed the net with Tyler Scofield and Marino on a 3-on-2. After an initial shot, Pope was there to poke the puck past Tuset.
After another penalty kill, Pope did it again, this time with a wrap-around goal that bounced in off Tuset's pads.
"Things just started to work for me," said Pope. "Now we need to carry this momentum into practice this week and into the games next weekend."
Climie thwarted several Colonial scoring chances late in the second period as play and tempers heated up. After Climie stoned Aaron Clarke twice, the opponents started getting into it. Three went off with 1:40 left in the period. After Erickson scored a power-play goal to make it 3-0, seven more players were penalized with 22 seconds remaining for a prolonged skirmish in front of the Beaver goal. Climie was one of three Beavers called for roughing.
Travis Winter set up Erickson's goal, first by stealing the puck from Chris Kaufman when it appeared the Colonials would clear their zone, and then by getting it over to his teammate. It was an example of the kind of team hockey Bemidji State played all night.
"We responded well," Serratore said. "We still have the ability to play better, but we played with a lot of intensity tonight."
Robert Morris 0 0 0 - 0
Bemidji State 0 3 0 - 3
First Period - none. Penalties - Chris Peluso, BSU (interference), 2:29; Jeff Gilbert, RM (high sticking), 9:27; Dave Deterding, BSU (holding), 12:05; Brandon Marino, BSU (hooking), 14:58; Gilbert, RM (interference), 16:50.
Second Period - 1, BSU, Matt Pope 1 (Tyler Scofield, Marino), 4:21. 2, BSU, Pope 2 (Jake Bluhm, Joey Moggach), 15:53. 3, BSU, Luke Erickson 6 (Travis Winter), 18:47. Penalties - Joel Gasper, RM (high sticking), 2:04; John Vadnais, BSU (interference), 6:02; Gasper, RM (holding), 9:10; Deterding, BSU (interference), 13:26; Ryan Cruthers, RM (roughing), 18:20; Aaron Clarke, RM (GF), 18:20; Scofield, BSU (roughing), 18:20; Logan Bittle, RM (roughing), 19:38; Jake Sparks, RM (roughing); Rob Cowan, RM (roughing), 19:38; Bittle, RM (contact with goalie), 19:38; Nathan Schwartzbauer, BSU (roughing), 19:38; Rob Sirianni, BSU (roughing), 19:38; Matt Climie, BSU (roughing/served by Moggach), 19:38.
Third Period - none. Penalties - Gasper, RM (cross-checking), :21; Winter, BSU (goaltender interference), 1:30; Gasper, RM (interference), 4:03; Matt Allen, BSU (interference), 5:16; Chris Margott, RM (tripping), 9:22; Jake Bluhm, BSU (charging), 14:16; BSU (too many players/served by Moggach), 16:29.
Shots on goal - Robert Morris 5-12-9 26, Bemidji State 5-13-18 36. Power play opportunities - Robert Morris 0 of 9. Bemidji State 1 of 9. Goalies - Robert Morris, Joe Tuset 0-2-0 (36 shots-33 saves), 60:00. Bemidji State, Matt Climie 2-2-1 (26-26), 60:00. A - 1,521. Referee - Hunt. Assistant Referees - Eslinger, Carton.