Bemidji State hockey: Another OT win equals a BSU sweep
Two games; a pair of 2-1 overtime wins and a 2-0-0 start to the College Hockey America season.
Not a bad weekend for a Bemidji State men's hockey team that historically has had a difficult time playing at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
The Beavers followed Friday's overtime win with another in Sunday's matinee. While the score was the same, the two games were worlds apart, according to BSU head coach Tom Serratore.
"It was a much different game," he said. "There was a lot more 5-on-5 play and more of a flow to the game. But we never could really sustain anything offensively.
"It was very frustrating; I think you need to give a tip of the hat to Huntsville. They made things difficult for us."
On Sunday, after two scoreless periods Serratore said he felt it was going to end up a 1-0 game. With that in mind, things didn't look good for the Beavers when Kevin Morrison connected at 1:31 of the third.
"Even though things were difficult, we found a way to win," Serratore said.
Junior Matt Read continued his stellar offensive play, turning a Hunstville defensive miscue into a mini-breakaway goal at 9:29 to tie the score.
Serratore said it was a strange goal in that Read was heading to the bench on a line change and was in the middle of the ice near the Chargers' blue line. A UAH defender had the puck behind the net and attempted to move it to a wing.
He whiffed on the pass, however, and the puck ended up on Read's stick between the top of the circles and the blue line.
That was all the opportunity Read required. He wheeled, skated past the defenders and beat Chargers goalie Cameron Talbot with a quick shot.
The game remained tied through regulation and went into overtime for the second time in as many nights.
This time around, it was BSU sophomore Ben Kinne who provided the heroics, just 1:01 into overtime.
"It was a great play," Serratore said. "The puck kind of squirted to the boards in our defensive zone and Kinne picked it up," he said. "He used his speed through the neutral zone, switched to his forehand at the blue line, cut to the middle and ripped a wrist shot that beat Talbot over his shoulder. He got all of that one; it was a great shot and play."
Looking at the weekend as a whole, Serratore reported the Beavers were out of synch and disjointed the whole series. "For whatever reason, those things happen to us when we play at that rink," he said. "Plus, Huntsville was difficult to play against all weekend. They did a very good job on the penalty kill against us - let's give credit where it's due."
BSU sophomore goalie Dan Bakala recorded his fourth win of the season Sunday and extended his record to 4-0-1. For the weekend, Bakala ended with 60 saves on 62 shots.
"The whole weekend was a grind," Serratore said. "We missed our connecting flight on the way there and had to bus into Huntsville from Memphis. Coming home, we had some problems with missing equipment and didn't get back to Bemidji until 4 a.m.
"I'm really proud of how the guys battled their way through some tough situations. Hopefully, all this travel won't catch up with us and we can keep this train on the tracks."
The Beavers (5-0-1, 2-0-0 CHA) return to action Friday, hosting Robert Morris in a big two-game league series.
Bemidji State continues to be ranked among the nation's top teams in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Top 15 Poll and U.S. College Hockey Online/CBS College Sports Top 20.
The Beavers have been tabbed 12th nationally by USA Hockey and are ranked No. 11 by USCHO.com. Both stand as BSU's top billings ever.
The sweep at Huntsville helped Bemidji State improve its record to 5-0-1 to open the season, the program's best start since it went 11-0-0 to begin the 1984-85 campaign.
The performance at UAH garnered the Beavers 110 points to rank 12th in the nation in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll, matching the team's highest appearance in the publication. BSU fell seven points short of No. 11 Colorado College, which garnered 117 points, and narrowly edged Princeton University (106 points) in 13th.
Miami University, BSU's Frozen Four opponent last spring, holds down the top spot for the fifth consecutive week, with 504 points pulling down 29 of the 34 first-place votes.
BSU's 110-point total in this week's poll is second only to the 194 points garnered March 30, 2009, prior to the 2009 Frozen Four appearance.
The Nov. 2 poll marks the second consecutive week the team has cracked the top 15 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll in 2009-10 but the fifth time this season it has received votes. BSU picked up 53 points to rank 15th in last week's poll.
The Beavers find themselves among the top 15 in a USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll for just the seventh time in their Division I era, while it marks the 29th time the team has received attention in the poll.
For the second consecutive week, Bemidji State received a school-record 385 points in this week's USCHO.com poll, moving up three spots to No. 11 in that publication's rankings.
Miami-Ohio also holds down No. 1 in that poll, according to USCHO.com.