Bemidji State men's hockey: Beavers clinch CHA crown with Niagara tie, sweep USA U-18 team
The Bemidji State men's hockey team put on an entertaining exhibition of hockey Saturday, defeating the U.S. National U-18 team 6-3 at The Glas.
But as fun as the game was to watch, what really got everyone going was when the results of the Robert Morris-Niagara score was announced.
The Colonials and Purple Eagles skated to a 0-0 overtime tie - meaning Bemidji State had clinched no worse than a tie for the College Hockey America regular season title and the top seed in the CHA Tournament.
The Beavers hold the top tiebreaker over Niagara, which is head to head competition. BSU won the season series 4-2.
As a result, regardless of what happens in the Beavers final home series against Robert Morris next weekend, BSU is at least the CHA regular season co-champion and the top seed in the leaguer tourney.
Bemidji State - 2008-09 CHA regular season champions and top seed in the CHA tournament. Sounds pretty good.
"Winning championships is important to us -- important to the players, the coaches, the alumni and the community," said Bemidji State assistant coach Ted Belisle. "We won the regular season title, which I believe is the toughest one to win. It shows we were consistent throughout the season - we took care of business on the road and played well at home.
"Kudos to our guys. We have one banner to hang; now we need to work on the second one. That starts next weekend with a tough series against Robert Morris University."
It may have not been the classic way to win a championship, like beating a tough opponent at home. But it wasn't any less sweet.
"We won the marathon again," said BSU head coach Tom Serratore. "I couldn't be more proud or happier for the guys."
It was hard to find a weakness with the Beavers Saturday. They dominated the US team from start to finish and continued their string of fine play.
"We played really well," Serratore reported. "I can tell you one thing, (Matt Read) was really good (Saturday) ... man."
The BSU sophomore forward had the crowd on the edge of their seats the entire night. The US National team consistently played back on defense, giving the Beavers room to maneuver. It was a bad move for the visitors.
Read ended the night with two goals and two assists; he was also a perfect 7-0 in the face off circle.
"We had real good puck control," Belisle said. "When you have that and make good decisions that creates time and space. When you have those things you can make some plays. Suffice it say Read had some room to make plays and when he gets the opportunity, well ...."
The Beavers first goal exemplified that point perfectly. The picture perfect passing play should end up on a highlight reel somewhere. Matt Francis carried the puck into the BSU offensive zone and left a drop pass for freshman Brent Tamane. Tamane skated in a couple strides and hit Read with a pass in the slot. Read then buried a bullet wrist shot short side.
The whole play happened in the blink of an eye.
"The guys had good spacing and then cut to the middle," Serratore reported. "It was a nice line rush."
Read scored again in the first and defenseman Chris Peluso added another as the Beavers took a 3-2 first period lead. The Beavers then put on the jests.
BSU completely dominated the second period, scoring a pair of goals while holding a 16-4 shot advantage. Freshman Shea Walters scored the first, taking a pass from Ben Kinne right in front of the US goalie and making a nifty move with very little room to connect.
Tamane then scored on the power play, finding himself alone at the near post and getting a "how-did-the-get-the-puck through-there" pass from Read. The front of the goal was littered with players and Read threaded a perfect tape to tape pass to Tamanae, who scored into the wide open net.
The teams then traded goals in the third, the Beavers' tally courtesy of a hard wrist shot from Tyler Lehrke. That made the final 6-3.
The Beavers held a large 42-24 shot advantage for the game. BSU senior Orlando Alamano got the win in net, making 21 stops.
The Beavers conclude the regular season next weekend, hosting a resurgent Robert Morris at The Glas.
"We're treating it like the playoffs are starting next week," Belisle said. "Robert Morris played very well against us the last time out. We need to work hard and figure those guys out."