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Bemidji State men's hockey: Beavers rally for big win over Niagara on the road

Trailing 1-0 less than five minutes into the game, it looked like the Bemidji State men's hockey might be in line for a road-weary loss Thursday in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

But then, as they say, the worm turned.

The Beavers dug deep and kicked into gear, scoring three unanswered goals en route to a 3-1 victory over the Niagara Purple Eagles.

It was a big win for the Beavers who had been on the road for seven days and played their third game in six days.

"In my 10 years as coach," said BSU head coach Tom Serratore, "I'd rank this game up there with the comeback road win we had against Minnesota-Duluth a few years back. I'm very proud of our team and how the guys played."

The UMD game was played Nov. 14, 2003 in Duluth. The Bulldogs scored the first goal, in the second period, only to have the Beavers charge back to score the next three and win 3-1. UMD went on to advance to the Frozen Four that season.

Flash forward to Thursday: After Niagara's Vince Rocco scored a power play goal at 4:27 of the first period, the Beavers dominated from there. The score remained 1-0 into the second, but the Beavers had built 15-6 shot advantage and generated the majority of quality chances.

The Beavers broke through in the second period, scoring a pair of goals in just under 2:30. Brandon Marino tied things up at the 9:32 mark when he scored on a rebound off a shot from Ian Lowe.

Just 2:28 later the Beavers got the game winner -- a big goal from the team's top line. Sophomore Matt Read controlled a rolling puck in the BSU offensive zone and then sent a perfect pass to line mate Tyler Scofield.

Scofield rifled a one-timer past Niagara goalie Juliano Pagliero to give the Beavers the lead.

"There's no other way to put it," Serratore reported. "That was simply a phenomenal play between Scofield and Read."

That was the way the second period ended. Suddenly, things were looking pretty good for BSU who was a perfect 9-0-0 on the season when starting the third period with a lead.

Make than 10-0-0 now.

Tyler Lehrke got an insurance goal for the Beavers at 11:12 of the third, connecting on the power play. Serratore reported the Beavers had struggled nearly the entire two minutes before Lehrke gained control of the puck.

"He came in from the off wing and got off a strong. The puck had eyeballs, glancing off the post into the net," Serratore reported.

The Beavers concentrated on puck control the rest of the way and limited any serious Niagara scoring chances down the stretch. The Purple Eagles took a penalty with 1:57 left to negate any advantage of pulling their goalie.

The Beavers went to post the two goal win.

"We played very well," Serratore reported. "We had great energy, especially for a road game in a tough environment. We also played without Ryan Cramer for most of the game, which made things even more difficult.

"But the guys responded in a big way."

Cramer left the game with about five minutes remaining in the first period with an unspecified injury. He didn't come back for the remainder of the game.

The victory set up a huge opportunity for the Beavers to post a road sweep and gain a major advantage in the race for the CHA regular season crown.

"It's great winning on (Thursday)," Serratore reported. "But if they win (today), we'll need some help plus take care of business ourselves (in the final series against Robert Morris). This is a very big game for both teams."

The hope is Thursday's win will propel to an end of the season surge.

"That's college hockey," Serratore said, "you try to get on a roll at the right time of the season. That means strong special teams play, good goaltending and keeping your mistakes to a minimum. That's we're concentrating on."

The teams ended tied in shots at 28-28. BSU goaltender Matt Dalton won the battle of the premier goalies in the CHA, making 27 stops. Pagliero ended with 25.

The two teams conclude the series tonight in a 6 p.m. CST start.