Men's hockey: Huntsville shocks Beavers 2-1
BEMIDJI — Bemidji State’s tenuous playoff position took a hit Friday night.
But the Chargers took pride in their role as spoilers — especially against their biggest rival.
Jack Prince scored the game-winning goal from the left dot with 3 minutes, 11 seconds to play and UAH topped Bemidji State 2-1 — just the second win of the season for the Chargers.
“It’s a tough game to lose, no question,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “We needed this game at home. But hats off to Huntsville. They did everything they had to do to win. They had good goaltending, good defense and their special teams were good. They earned this win.”
With Northern Michigan’s 4-1 win over Bowling Green Friday, the Wildcats took BSU’s spot in eighth place in the conference standings. The Beavers are now 9-17-7 overall and 9-12-4 in the conference — they have 22 points with three games to play.
The Chargers (2-32-1, 2-22-1 WCHA) certainly didn’t play like a team that had lost 32 games. But as UAH head coach Mike Corbett put it, the victory was a long time coming.
“I’ve kept saying, we’re improving, we’re improving, we’re improving,” Corbett said, pointing to some of the results from the last month or so that saw improved scorelines despite losing. “But until you see something on the scoreboard kids don’t want to believe it. It’s an instant-gratification society.
“Bemidji’s a tough team to play. But we played disciplined and we were able to take advantage of the few opportunities we got.”
Fueled by freshman goaltender Matt LaRose — who made 40 saves and won his first game of the season Friday — the Chargers played a sound defensive game despite giving up 41 shots on net.
After a scoreless first period that saw UAH dominate offensively early — the Chargers outshot the Beavers 6-0 in the first five minutes of play — UAH broke the tie at the 11:34 mark of the second period.
Jeff Vanderlugt picked up the puck at the blue line and wristed a shot past Bemidji State goaltender Jesse Wilkins.
Vanderlugt’s goal quieted a packed student crowd that had obviously looked forward to rekindling the Beaver-Chargers rivalry — the “We Hate Huntsville” chants started 20 minutes before the puck even dropped.
“It was nice to get the first goal,” Corbett said. “That helped us quiet the crowd a little bit.”
BSU outshot the Chargers 15-11 in the second but went into the intermission down 1-0.
“They had the ability of playing with a lead,” Serratore said. “We had to push the pace a little, play with a desperation. When they had the ability to chip the puck out they did.”
The Beavers finally pulled even in the third period with John Parker’s first-ever goal in a BSU uniform.
Parker, a transfer from Maine, beat LaRose and UAH defensemen with a nifty individual effort. He tried to dump the puck, it hit off a ref and Parker retrieved it off UAH defenseman Frank Misuraca before beating LaRose top-shelf for the score.
“As a team we were buzzing down low,” Parker said. “(A goal) was going to come sooner or later. But it felt good to get my first one out of the way.”
But BSU’s hopes were dashed when Prince’s rocket wrist shot from the left circle beat Wilkins for the score and the lead.
The Beavers had numerous scoring chances in the final three minutes — including a 6-on-4 opportunity with an empty net following a penalty on Misuraca with under two minutes to go — but couldn’t equalize and force overtime.
LaRose finished with 40 saves while Wilkins made 26 saves in the loss. The Chargers’ 28 shots on goal Friday was a season high.
Serratore and Parker both called tonight’s rematch a must-win.
“We have to respond,” Serratore said. “We talked about that in the locker room just now. It’s a tough loss but we have to move forward and win a game.”
“We have to get past it,” Parker said. “We’ll watch video in the morning and try and move on and refocus.
“Their goalie played well tonight, he stood on his head. As a team they’re good defensively. They know how to defend and do it well. We have to get more pucks to the net, that’s the bottom line. We need to sustain more offense and get it out of our defensive zone if we want to beat them.”
Huntsville 2, Bemidji State 1
UAH 0 1 1 — 2
BSU 0 0 1 — 1
First Period — No Scoring. Penalties — BSU, Pedan (Tripping), 7:09; UAH, White (Interference), 10:38.
Second Period — 1, UAH, Vanderlught (Reinhardt), 11:34. Penalties — UAH, Team (Too Many Men), 14:24.
Third Period — 2, BSU, Parker (Marinaccio), 9:49; 3, UAH, Prince (Brears), 16:51. Penalties — UAH, Fletcher (Holding), 10:12; BSU, Gerbrandt (Cross-Checking), 10:12; UAH, Misuraca (Boarding), 18:22.
Shots On Goal — UAH, 9-11-8—28; BSU, 12-15-14—41. Goalies (Shots-Saves) — UAH, LaRose (41-40); BSU, Wilkins (28-26). Penalties-Minutes — UAH, 4-8; BSU, 2-4. Power Plays-Opportunities — UAH, 0-for-1; BSU, 0-for-3.