No. 8 Bemidji State men's hockey team sweeps Huntsville behind Hunt's hat trick
It's amazing what can happen when BSU sophomore defenseman Brad Hunt has some room to shoot.
Hunt put his impressive shooting ability on display Saturday with a hat trick and the BSU men's hockey team completed a sweep of College Hockey America rival Alabama-Huntsville 6-3 at The Glas.
Junior forward Matt Read added a goal and a pair of assists as the Beavers improved to 10-1-1 overall and 6-0-0 in the CHA. UAH fell to 3-9-0 and 0-4-0 in the CHA, all four losses coming to Bemidji State.
"Our big-time players played big time," said BSU head coach Tom Serratore. "We realize our high end players are really high end and they played great (Saturday). They scored some pretty goals."
It was a lackluster start to begin the opening period with UAH holding a 9-3 shot advantage and a 1-0 lead through the first 14 minutes. The Chargers scored first as the result of two minor penalties being called on the Beavers on the same play. That gave the Chargers a 5 on 3 advantage for a full two minutes.
The Chargers didn't need all that time. Andrew Coburn scored just 26 seconds into the two man advantage, banking a shot off a sprawling BSU goalie Mathieu Dugas.
The Beavers killed the rest of the penalty and seemed to gain some momentum from the effort. Junior defender Ryan Adams got his first goal of the year to tie the score 1-1 at 15:27. He took a nice cross ice pass from Ryan Cramer at the far face off circle and ripped a shot into the top corner.
The Beavers connected on a power play goal of their own less than two minutes later to take a one goal lead. It was Hunt's first of three on the night, scored on one of his patented blasts from between the circles off a pass from Ian Lowe.
The first period ended with the Beavers holding the slim lead. For the second night in a row penalties plagued the Beavers, as BSU was called for four minors in the first period.
It was a wild second period with five goals being scored as the Beavers built a 5-3 lead. BSU started the period on the power play for 1:56. They didn't score, but did connect just seven seconds after the penalty elapsed. It was Hunt again, this time ripping a shot low to the ice from near the blue line at 2:03.
That ended the night for UAH starting goaltender Blake MacNicol. He ended the game allowing three goals on nine shots. He was replaced by Cameron Talbot.
The Chargers responded less than two minutes later as Kevin Morrison gathered in a bouncing puck in the slot and scored, making it 3-2.
But the Beavers came back in a big way, scoring twice in 20 seconds to take a 5-2 lead. On the first Ben Kinne found his linemate Ryan Cramer down low and Cramer ripped a shot that deflected off Talbot into the net.
On the ensuing play, Read used his speed to score a goal that brought the crowd to its feet. Read moved the puck up the middle, slid a pass to Jordan George outside the blue line and then put on the jets, going hard to the net. George hit Read in front and Read tipped it in the net at 13:23.
"I made the pass, then George and I made eye contact - he knew I was going to the net," Read said. "I was just hoping for a good pass. George slid one by the defender and I was lucky enough to deflect it five hole."
Huntsville wasn't done, however, and came back to make it 5-3. Cale Tanaka scored on a fine wraparound move past Dugas with 3:35 remaining in the second. That's the way the period ended.
Hunt completed the hat trick to give the Beavers a 6-3 lead at 3:26 of the third, this one another power play goal. Once again, it was a rocket shot from near the blue line that beat the UAH goaltender.
"They played me really tough on Friday and it was frustrating," Hunt said. "But they gave me some lanes (Saturday) and the guys got me the puck just at the right times. I tried to shoot as hard as I could, either scoring or generating a rebound for someone else to put in."
Hunt said the key to the Beavers fast start this season has been playing off the energy of the BSU crowd.
"A lot of excitement carried over from last year, at the university and around the community," he said. "We're feeding off the fans - there's so much energy in this building. It's our goal to give our best effort every night and see what happens. It's been going our way so far."
Dugas got his third win in goal on the season for the Beavers, keeping his record spotless at 3-0-0. He made 28 saves on the night.
"It's tough to play well consistently. We had a tough period last night and some rough stretches Saturday," Serratore said. "When you have those rough stretches, you need to have solid goaltending. We had that both nights."
The Beavers next take part in the University of North Dakota Holiday Classic in Grand Forks, facing Miami Friday and Ohio State Saturday. In all likelihood, Miami will enter the tournament as the top ranked team in the nation with UND second and the Beavers somewhere in the top 10.
"We all know how tough Miami is and Ohio State is a good team as well," Serratore reported. "It's going to be a heck of a challenge for us. It's going to be interesting to see how we respond to teams like those. It should be a great weekend of hockey for the fans."