A win is a win is a win ... right?
Even though Alabama-Huntsville may have deserved a better fate, the Bemidji State men's hockey team wasn't about to apologize for a 2-1 overtime win over the Chargers Saturday night in Alabama.
Junior Matt Read scored both of Bemidji State's goals, the second coming 3:44 into overtime. That was all the Beavers needed to extend their season-opening unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1).
BSU sophomore goalie Dan Bakala also kept his unbeaten streak alive (3-0-1) with a stellar night in net, stopping 29 of 30 UAH shots. He outplayed the Chargers' premier goalie Cameron Talbot, who stopped 20 of 22 shots.
The Beavers scored first, as Read connected just 1:50 into the game off assists from Jordan George and Brad Hunt. It appeared as if the Beavers would continue their early season scoring burst, coming into the game averaging 4.5 goals per game.
But that was not to be as the Beavers would not score again until Read turned the trick with 1:16 left in overtime for the game winner. It was all his team needed, however.
After the Beavers scored quickly there wasn't much to talk about offensively for the remainder of regulation time. BSU was outshot 13-8 in a penalty plagued second period that saw nine minors called - five on the Chargers.
The Beavers' 1-0 lead held up until the 2:13 mark of the third period. The Chargers' Neil Ruffini took a pass in the slot from Brennan Barker and scored over Bakala's shoulder to tie the game.
The Beavers defense then tightened up and didn't give up another Grade A chance the rest of the way.
"It was kind of ugly, but we won't apologize for it," said Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore of the Beaver victory. "They probably deserved a better fate; we've got to be a lot better than this."
Read's first goal came as the result of shooting the puck toward the net when Talbot wasn't set. "That's what we do - funnel pucks to the net," Serratore said. "We've scored a lot of goals on these guys over the years by funneling the puck."
The second was the result of transitioning the puck into the offensive zone quickly, while Huntsville was in the middle of a line change. BSU defender Ryan Adams controlled a loose puck along the boards just inside the red line and zipped it into the offensive zone. Read picked up the puck between two UAH defenders, made a hesitation move that faked Talbot out of position and deftly slid the puck into the wide open net.
"That was a nice play, the result of being heads up and transitioning the puck quickly," Serratore said. "It was a good goal."
For the first time this season, BSU struggled to sustain any offensive pressure for the majority of game. "I thought the line of Darcy Findlay, Emil Bilberg and Aaron McLeod was our best group in the third period," Serratore said. "They were able to get the puck low and cycle it a bit. No one else was able to sustain anything. We're going to have to fix that."
BSU improved to 4-0-1 and 1-0-0 in the CHA, while the Chargers fell to 3-4 and 0-1-0 in the CHA. The two teams conclude the series today in a 1 p.m. matinee start.
BSU 1 0 0 1 - 2
UAH 0 0 1 0 - 1
First Period - 1, BSU, Matt Read 3 (Jordan George, Brad Hunt), 1:50 pp. Penalties - Justin Cseter, UAH (hooking), 1:09, Brennan Barker, UAH (unsportsmanlike conduct), 1:50, Darcy Findlay, BSU (checking from behind), 10:13, Chris Peluso, BSU (diving), 11:13, Andrew Coburn, UAH (hooking), 11:13, Brad Hunt, BSU (tripping), 17:14
Second Period - No scoring. Penalties - Tom Train, UAH (roughing), :12, Ryan Burkholder, UAH (slashing), 4:13, Read, BSU (tripping), 6:06, Ben Kinne, BSU (interference), 9:06, Matt Carlson, BSU (boarding), 10:59, Coburn, UAH (roughing), 12:55, Cale Tanaka, UAH (tripping), 14:03, Tyler Lehrke, BSU (charging), 16:07, Burkholder, UAH (roughing), 19:53
Third Period - 2, UAH, Neil Ruffini 3 (Barker), 2:31. Penalties - none
Overtime - 3, BSU, Read 4 (Ryan Adams), 3:44. Penalties - none
Shots - BSU 8-8-3-3 22, UAH 9-13-8-0 30
Saves - BSU-Dan Bakala (30 shots-29 saves), UAH-Cameron Talbot (22 shots-20 saves)
Power Play - BSU 1 for 7, UAH 0 for 6
Referees - Scott Bokul, Craig Weller, assistant referees - Jim Dewhirst, David Frost
A -- 1446