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No. 8 Bemidji State blasts Huntsville 6-1 in series opener with strong start, strong finish

Bemidji State's Matt Read (center) pumps his fist after scoring against Alabama-Huntsville in the first period of Friday night's game at John Glas Fieldhouse. From left is Jordan George (28), Curtis deBruyn and Ian Lowe. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Two strong periods were enough for the Bemidji State men's hockey team to defeat College Hockey America rival University of Alabama-Huntsville 6-1 at The Glas Friday.

The Beavers (9-1-1, 5-0-0 CHA) scored in bunches in both the first and third periods to first take control, and then put away, the game. BSU rattled off three goals in 3:21 of the first to take a 3-0 lead. The Beavers then survived a terrible second period where the Chargers (3-8-0, 0-3-0 CHA) fought back into contention, scoring the only goal. But the Beavers responded strongly, regaining the three goal lead just 1:18 into the third and then adding two more to put the game away.

The two teams conclude the series tonight in a 7:05 p.m. start from The Glas.

Bemidji State rolled through the first period, taking the big 3-0 lead. Matt Read started things off at 13:21, getting a pass in front and scoring off his own rebound. That started the barrage.

Junior forward Ryan Cramer was next, getting the puck at the near circle, cutting to the net and ripping a wrist shot short side at 14:07.

BSU freshman Jordan George then concluded the scoring for the period as Cramer again picked up the puck at the near boards, turned and fired a shot that missed the net. George was camped out at the crease, however, and tapped it in at 16:42.

The Beavers held a 10-7 shot advantage in the period.

The second period was a completely different story. It was a penalty plagued 20 minutes with four minors being called on each team.

The Chargers connected on one of the opportunities, catching the Beavers in a line change. UAH goalie Cameron Talbot made a long pass to Andrew Coburn that generated a 2 on 0 break. Brennan Barker took the pass alone in front and snuck it past BSU goalie Dan Bakala at 13:16.

"It's the first time I've been disappointed in a period all year," said BSU head coach Tom Serratore. "It's the worst period we've had all year. We were fortunate to get out of it with a 3-1 lead. Getting those four penalties was unacceptable."

The Chargers had a man advantage on a carry over penalty for the first 46 seconds of the third period and looked poised to cut into the BSU lead further. But just the opposite happened.

The Beavers killed the penalty, then quickly put the game away with a goal shortly over one minute into the period.

BSU went ahead 4-1 at the1:18 mark as George hit Ian Lowe with a drop pass at the near face off circle. Lowe then beat Talbot with a shot that hit the top of the far corner of the net.

Regaining the three goal lead completely changed the complexion of the game.

"That was a big goal," Serratore reported. "It energized our bench and deflated Huntsville a bit - they were really working hard to get that second goal. The three goal lead was enough to reenergize our batteries."

Jamie MacQueen and Chris McKelvie added a pair of unanswered goals down the stretch to put the game out of reach. Talbot was pulled from the game after MacQueen's goal and replaced by Blake MacNicol.

"I'm glad the guys showed some real maturity and responded the way they did in the third period," Serratore reported. "But we need to keep working hard and getting better."

Three lines scored for the Beavers on the night, a factor Serratore said was important, not just in Friday's game, but every game. "We have to continue with that type of scoring," he said. "It's tough on the opposition when you score in bunches like we did."

The Beavers ended the game with a slight 27-26 shots on goal advantage. Beaver goalie Dan Bakala continued his strong play, ending with 25 saves in improving his record to 7-1-1.