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Beavers gain series split with 3-1 win

Two keys to victory are cited by Bemidji State men's hockey coach Tom Serratore before every game -- get the first goal and play with intensity.

The Beavers got both at Dwyer Arena in upstate New York Saturday, stopping Niagara University 3-1 to earn a series split.

To remain on the college hockey cliché train, Serratore also always says the goal against every College Hockey America team is "to split on the road and sweep at home." For the second consecutive week the Beavers earned the road split and now stand 2-2 in the league.

Bemidji State (3-7-0, 2-2 CHA) took Serratore's word to heart Saturday, connecting for the first goal just 13 seconds into the game. Freshman Ben Kinne scored his second collegiate goal after tipping a pass from Brandon Marino past Purple Eagles premier goalie Juliano Pagliero shortly after the opening puck drop.

Seconds after the key goal, the momentum took a turn for the home team. BSU's Tyler Lehrke was whistled for a five minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind at the 1:32 mark.

The five minute power play could have turned the game around. The Beavers, however, hung tough and killed the penalty, regaining the momentum.

The period ended with the Beavers holding the 1-0 lead. BSU also held a big 11-5 shot advantage despite killing the major penalty.

Another freshman, Shea Walters, scored the biggest goal of his collegiate career in the second period, staking the Beavers to a 2-0 lead.

Controlling the puck on a 3 on 1 break, Walters danced around a Niagara defender and then put on the moves, scoring on a dazzling backhander past Pagliero.

How was Walters able to make that move, an onlooker asked Serratore? "Because he's from the Iron Range and he has skills," deadpanned the BSU head coach. "That was a big goal."

The Beavers took the two goal lead into the final period and made it hold up.

Niagara's Robert Martini made it a one goal game with a blast from the point at 5:00 of the third.

But the home team would get no closer as the Beavers stood tall.

BSU senior Matt Francis iced the game with an empty net goal with 13 seconds remaining.

"It was a great weekend for us and a great game tonight," said Serratore. "It was a gusty performance for us.

"I thought Niagara played with a lot desperation in the second period and kind of took it to us. But we weathered the storm and won the period."

BSU sophomore goaltender Matt Dalton got the win in net, turning back 22 of 23 Niagara shots.

"I told him today, 'win the game,'" Serratore reported. "It's kind of like being a pitcher where it's not necessarily about the stats. It comes down to win and losses. He won the game Saturday."

The series brings to end what Serratore called the toughest early season schedule for the Beavers in the school's Division I history -- playing eight of the first 10 games on the road.

"Am I saying everything is going to be great from here on out?" Serratore asked. "No, but we got through a real tough stretch. We got a lot better as a team this weekend. The last six minutes of the third period when we were holding on to the lead, I thought we played great -- we showed some real poise."

The Beavers return to action Friday, returning home to host Michigan Tech in a nonconference series.

BSU 1 1 1-- 3

NU 0 0 1 -- 1

First Period -- 1, BSU, Ben Kinne 2 (Brandon Marino, Cody Bostock), :13. Penalties -- Tyler Lehrke, BSU (five minute major, game misconduct-checking from behind), 1:32, Dan Baco, NU (holding the stick), 7:30, Brian Dowd, NU (tripping), 14:27

Second Period -- 2, BSU, Shea Walters 2 (Graham McManamin), 8:03. Penalties -- McManamin, BSU (interference), :53, Dan Sullivan, NU (hooking), 10:18

Third Period -- 3, Robert Martini 1 (Ryan Olidis), 5:00. 4, BSU Matt Francis 1 (unassisted), 19:47. Penalties -- Tyler Scofield, BSU (kneeing), 7:49

Shots -- BSU 11-8-6 25, NU 5-13-5 23

Saves -- BSU-Matt Dalton (23 shots-22 saves), NU-Juliano Pagliero (24 shots-22 saves)(:36-empty net, goal)

Power Play -- BSU 0 for 3, NU 0 for 3

Referees -- Dan Murphy, Stephen Shufelt, linesmen-Robert Baldwin, Nick Schmitt

A -- 1051