BSU men's hockey: Beavers cruise into break with 4-2 win, sweep of Ala.-Huntsville
Bemidji State hockey coach Tom Serratore said it after the Beavers 3-1 victory Friday night, "good teams find a way to win."
The Beavers found yet another way Saturday, winning for the fifth straight time in defeating the University of Alabama-Huntsville 4-2 at The Glas.
In this one, the Beavers trailed 2-1 going into the third period and proceeded to play what Serratore termed as "one of the finest periods of Beaver hockey in a long time. That was one fine exhibition."
It didn't take long for the Beavers to even the score in the third period. With the Chargers Brennan Barker in the box for tripping, the Beavers struck. Freshman defender Brad Hunt unleashed a blast from the blue line and freshman Shea Walters tipped the shot past UAH goaltender Cameron Talbot with just 1:40 gone in the period.
The goal completely energized the Beavers who put things into high gear. BSU controlled the puck for long stretches and held a 9-1 shot advantage through the first four minutes of the period.
Sophomore Emil Bilberg then stole the show for the second straight night. With the Beavers on a line change, Bilberg saw from the bench that the weak side of the ice was wide open. Bilberg motored down ice uncovered and freshman Darcy Findlay hit him with a pass near the top of the far face off circle. Bilberg took in the pass and immediately rifled a wrist shot over the shoulder of Talbot, connecting for what proved to be the game winner for the second straight night.
"(Bilberg's) shot was money," Serratore reported. "He got it off very quickly and caught Talbot by surprise a bit, I think."
The Beavers continued to apply the pressure and hung on to the one goal lead. Late in the period the Beavers were whistled for a boarding penalty, but the BSU special teams and goalie Matt Dalton made sure the Chargers would not tie things up.
Immediately following the power play the Chargers pulled Talbot for the extra attacker. BSU's Matt Francis made the visitors pay, connecting on an unassisted empty netter with 28 seconds left to seal Huntsville's fate.
Bemidji State ended up out-shooting the Chargers 17-9 in the key third period and 31-28 for the game. It was an amazing shot total, considering the Beavers had only 14 combined in the first two periods.
"We changed our fore check a bit, but I don't know if that was the difference, really," Serratore reported. "Our puck pursuit was great. Then a lot of it was energy and momentum - the guys really felt it for the first time this whole series. I'm really proud of the way they worked and competed in the third period - that was Beaver hockey."
The Beavers played strong in the first period as well. The effort paid off as BSU took a 1-0 lead at the 8:51 mark. Ian Lowe got the puck to Matt Read at the side of the net. Read moved out front, turned and scored on a shot that deflected off Talbot into the net.
The goal energized the Beavers and BSU took control for the next six minutes or so. But then, a small mistake cost the Beavers the lead.
The Chargers Joey Koudys picked up a turnover near the blue line, skated in and scored on a wrist shot low glove side past a screened Dalton at 14:44. The goal changed the momentum completely in the Chargers favor and it carried over into the second period.
For the second straight night UAH was in control of much of the second period. The Beavers managed just two shots on goal over the first 17 minutes of the period. UAH took its first lead of the series as Koudys scored his second of the night with just over four minutes left. Koudys took a pass from Neil Ruffini and blasted a shot top shelf past Dalton.
But the third period belonged to the Beavers, in a major way.
Huntsville dropped to 2-7-1 overall with the loss and are 1-4-1 in CHA play.
The Beavers have now scratched and clawed their way back to the .500 mark, something Serratore did know was possible after the Beavers' 1-6 start.
The Beavers are now 7-7-0 overall and 4-2-0 in CHA play.
"Let's face it," he said, "it's extremely difficult to get sweeps in college hockey and we have been able to do it two weeks in a row. To fight back to .500 is quite an accomplishment. But it's a long season and we have a long ways to go. Hopefully we can parlay that third period (Saturday) into good things for the second half of the season."
The Beavers will now be able for three weeks, returning to action Dec. 28-29 for a Holiday Tournament at Dartmouth.
"Would it be nice to play next week, sure," Serratore reported, "but the schedule didn't work out that way. Then again it's a long season; we're tired and ready for a break."