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Brad Robbins’ shot was deflected wide by Alabama-Huntsville goalie Armine Guerriero during Saturday’s 4-1 BSU victory. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Men's hockey: Senior leadership leads to 4-1 win over Huntsville

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BEMIDJI — At this point in the season, almost every game is a “must-win” for the BSU men’s hockey team.

But after Friday night’s 2-1 loss to rivals Alabama-Huntsville, earning the victory and two points in the Beavers’ home finale became even more important.

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The Beavers — thanks to some senior leadership from Jeff Jubinville and Radoslav Illo — delivered.

Jubinville notched three points (two goals and an assist) and Illo added a helper as BSU defeated UAH 4-1 Saturday night, earning the split and moving back into a tie for seventh place in WCHA the league standings.

“Those guys mean a lot to this program,” Serratore said of Jubinville, Illo and Matt Hartmann — the three seniors playing what could be their final games at the Sanford Center. “They’ve been great on the ice and they work hard on the ice and in the classroom. They’re great kids.”

“Juby had a great game. He was just an eyelash from a hat trick, so that was good to see.”

Defenseman Graeme McCormack, who added a goal and an assist, said it was Jubinville and Illo who helped the Beavers rally in the first period following a UAH’s only goal. (Hartmann didn’t play due to an injury.)

Jubinville’s power play goal (assisted by McCormack and Illo) at 14:51 had given BSU (10-17-7, 10-12-4 WCHA) the early 1-0 lead, but Huntsville (2-33-1, 2-23-1 WCHA) wasted little time answering when the Chargers’ Chad Brears took a shot that got behind BSU goalie Jesse Wilkins. He couldn’t find the puck to cover it up and it the puck snuck in for the goal.

“After we got the first one we let them get back into it,” McCormack said. “After that it comes down to maturity. That’s when the leadership comes in. The younger guys follow. Guys like Jubs and Rado set the tone. They did that and we responded.”

Two minutes later Cory Ward — who had a goal called back earlier in the game — wound up and fired a rocket from the high slot past UAH goalie Carmine Guerriero.

BSU went into the first intermission up just 2-1 but added to their cushion in the middle frame with another two scores.

At the 10:02 mark Jubinville fired a one-timer past Guerriero after a perfect centering pass from John Parker. Parker was nearly at the goal line all the way over on the boards. He saw Jubinville streaking up ice and hit his stick perfectly with the pass. Guerriero had little time to slide over and react.

Jubinville — who also assisted on McCormack’s goal from the point with just more than a minute to go in the second period — earned his first career three point night in what could be his final game in the Sanford Center.

“If it’s my last game here, it’s an unreal feeling,” he said. “I don’t know, pucks were just going in. it felt great. I couldn’t ask for a better ending.”

The Beavers didn’t score in the third period but UAH never really threatened to score aside from a few stray sequences at the beginning of the period.

BSU killed off the only penalty it was whistled for — an interference call on Hansen midway through the third.

Serratore said improved puck possession was key in Saturday’s win.

“We had good puck possession time in the zone and every line fed off that,” he said. “I thought we played well last night, but no question tonight was a lot better from a puck possession standpoint. We had a lot of movement in the offensive zone. I thought that created more space for shots and we had the ability of getting shots through.”

BSU outshot UAH 48-23 in the game — a season-high for the Beavers. BSU goaltender Wilkins made 22 saves. Guerriero stopped 44 shots for UAH.

“We didn’t really deviate from our offensive gameplan start to the end,” Jubinville said of the difference in Saturday’s win. It helped that the Beavers weren’t playing from behind for much of the game like they were Friday.

“We stayed the course and that’s big for us this time of year, especially going into the playoffs. We can’t take a period off here or there. We played 60 minutes this time.”

BSU now enters next weekend’s regular season finale at Bowling Green needing some points in order to make the WCHA playoffs.

The Beavers are tied with Lake Superior State for seventh with 24 points while BGSU is in a three-way tie for fourth with 26 points.

“It’s nice to end at home with a win,” Jubinville said. “We needed the points. Now we have to get ready for Bowling Green here and get some points on the road. We have to. Our lives are on the line here.”

Bemidji State 4, Alabama-Huntsville 1

UAH 1 0 0 — 1

BSU 2 2 0 — 4

First Period — 1, BSU, Jubinville 1 (McCormack), 14:51, PP; 2, UAH, Brears (Koshey, Prince), 15:13; 3, BSU, Ward (Gerbrandt, Windle), 17:18. Penalties — UAH, Marooney (Tripping), 7:44; UAH, Strukoff (Hooking), 12:55.

Second Period — 4, BSU, Jubinville 2 (Parker, Prapavessis), 10:02; 5, BSU, McCormack (Jubinville, Marinaccio), 18:56. Penalties — None.

Third Period — No Scoring. Penalties — BSU, Hansen (Interference), 11:24.

Shots On Goal — UAH, 8-4-11—23; BSU, 17-19-12—48. Goalies (Shots-Saves) — UAH, Guerriero (48-44); BSU, Wilkins (223-22). Penalties-Minutes — UAH, 2-4; BSU, 1-2. Power Plays-Opportunities — UAH, 0-for-1; BSU, 1-for-2.

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
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