Bemidji State men's hockey team loses first conference game to Purple Eagles
The Bemidji State unbeaten streak in College Hockey America is over.
Playing at Dwyer Arena, a difficult venue for the Beavers over the years, Niagara dominated the heart of the game to claim a big 6-4 victory Friday.
The Beavers (14-5-2, 8-1-0 CHA) scored early and late, but Niagara dominated the majority of the game - scoring six unanswered goals in the second and third to build a 6-2 lead. The Beavers scored a couple of goals late in the game to close the gap but the outcome had all but been decided by then.
The Beavers got off to a big start, taking a 2-0 first period lead in a dominating period of play on the road. But, in the end, that's all there was to cheer about for the Beavers on the night.
Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore had been looking for more consistency on the Beavers power play and he got it quickly. BSU took a 1-0 lead at the 8:56 mark, just eight seconds into its first power play of the night. Ian Lowe got the goal for the Beavers with assists going to Brad Hunt and Shea Walters.
The Beavers went ahead 2-0 with 1:54 remaining in the period. Freshman defender Brady Wacker got the puck to forward Ryan Cramer at the far circle. Cramer rifled a shot towards the net and the puck deflected past Niagara goalie Chris Noonan for a 2-0 Beaver lead.
That's the way the first period ended. But the second and the majority of the third belonged to the host Purple Eagles.
"The first was one of our better periods of the year," Serratore said. "You knew (Niagara) would come out strong in the second period after the way we played in the first. I wish we could have kept our foot on the gas and taken care of business."
Niagara came roaring back in the second period with three unanswered goals, the final two coming just 39 seconds apart. C.J. Chartrain got Niagara on the board to make it 2-1 at 7:35, connecting off a rebound.
The last 1:13 of the period was disastrous for the Beavers. Niagara went on the power at 18:37 when Jordan George was called for roughing. Just 10 seconds into the power play Giancarlo Iuorio evened the score at 2-2 with a goal.
With the Beavers on their heels, the home team struck again quickly.
Derek Foam connected on a shot through traffic to give Niagara its first lead of the game.
Niagara kept up the pressure in the third as Mark Zanette scored twice and Iuorio once in the first 13:57 to build a four goal lead.
BSU goalie Dan Bakala was pulled after the fifth Niagara goal with Mathieu Dugas coming on in relief. Dugas ended up allowing the final Niagara goal.
The Beavers put on a mini-rally at the end of the game with George and Brad Hunt scoring less than a 30 seconds apart - Hunt's with only 48 seconds remaining. But it was too little, too late for BSU.
"We took some short cuts and got burned," Serratore reported. "We couldn't get pucks out of the zone and couldn't control the puck on the boards. But, bottom line, they were the better team in the second and third period and deserved to win."
The Beavers ended with a 39-32 shot on goal advantage. Bakala took the loss in net for the Beavers, making 23 saves on 28 shots before being pulled in the third period. Chris Noonan earned the win in goal for Niagara with 35 saves.
The two teams conclude the series tonight in a 6 p.m. (CST) start.