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Bemidji State men's hockey: Beavers dominate Niagra to earn series split

Travis Winter (center) scores on Niagara goalie Juliano Pagliero for Bemidji State's third goal of the game in the third period Saturday night. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Forget the losing streak; the Beavers can start thinking about beginning a streak of another kind.

The Bemidji State (9-13-0, 5-3-0 CHA) men's hockey team ended a six game losing streak Saturday, defeating the Niagara Purple Eagles 3-1 at the John Glas Fieldhouse. The game wasn't as close as the final score may indicate.

The Beavers took an early two goal lead and never let Niagara (11-10-1, 4-2-0 CHA)) back in the game to earn a series split.

"The old hamburger will taste like steak tonight," said Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore. "We felt this was a must win game and the guys responded. Four times this year we've had Saturday games that were really bid for many reasons and the guys have responded in all of them. That's great and says a lot about our team."

After a scoreless first period it was a dominating second for the Beavers that was the difference maker Saturday.

The Beavers took a 2-0 lead, only to have Niagara score on the power play with just two minutes remaining. Still the strong period set the tone for the BSU victory

Sophomore Matt Read put the Beavers on the board first at the 5:12 mark. Matt Francis moved the puck from the corner to Brad Hunt at the point. Hunt took a hard shot that was deflected by Read in front past Niagara goalie Juliano Pagliero.

BSU then made it 2-0 with a power play goal at 7:20. On this one, Francis jumped on a loose puck at the near circle and rifled a shot past Pagliero.

Niagara came back with a power play goal of its own at 18:11 as Egor Mironov scored on a shot from the point.

The Beavers held a huge 17-10 shot advantage in the period and had at least four more golden opportunities to score. One of the best came with seconds remaining as Tyler Lehrke got loose in front and juked Pagliero out of position, only to have the puck slide off his stick deep.

The third period belonged to the Beavers as well. Travis Winter iced the game for BSU when he connected on a rebound off a shot for freshman Jamie MacQueen at 13:30.

"It was a set-up breakout for Niagara and (MacQueen) read it well," Serratore reported. "He stepped up, stole the pass, moved in and got off a strong shot. Winter was going hard to the net and scored. Nice play."

The Bemidji State penalty kill took center stage in the scoreless first period. The Beavers killed a Niagara 5 on 3 for just under a minute, a 4 on 3 for another 45 seconds and a 5 on 4 for a full two minutes. Not only did the Beavers successfully kill all the penalties, they held Niagara to one shot total on the penalty kill.

The Purple Eagles had the best opportunity to score as Derek Foam went in alone from the red line. He barely was able to get a shot off with Dalton easily making the save on the weak attempt.

But that was the only Grade A scoring chance the Purple Eagles had on the night as the Beavers shit them down defensively.

"They didn't have the legs they had on Friday," Serratore reported. "That happens sometimes when a team wins a Friday game on the road. They start thinking that they got the split on Friday and didn't have the same intensity the next. It happens to all teams.

"Then too, we did as good job on their set-up break out. We shut down the passing lanes well and really limited their opportunities."

The Beavers ended the game with a 28-20 shot advantage. BSU goalie Matt Dalton got back to his winning ways as well, playing solid in making 19 saves.

"The college hockey season is an intense grind and it's not always fun," Serratore said. "The guys responded tonight in a big game. Kudos to them."

The Beavers return to action Friday, heading to Robert Morris in Pittsburgh for a two game series. It will be the first meeting of the year between the two teams.