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Bemidji State men's hockey: McKelvie's late goal lifts BSU over Huntsville

A classic rebound goal by Chris McKelvie with 6:55 left in the game broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Bemidji State men's hockey team a big 3-2 win at the University of Alabama-Huntsville Friday.

The No. 8 Beavers (23-8-2, 14-3-0 CHA) took a 2-1 first period lead and held the one goal margin through the second. The Chargers (10-17-2, 6-10-1 CHA) came back to tie the game at 2-2 near the midway point of the third. But then McKelvie scored the game winner with the BSU defense taking over from there to post the win.

"That was Beaver Hockey," said Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore, referencing McKelvie's goal. "(Tyler) Lehrke took outside ice across the blue line, found a soft spot and got the shot through. The rebound came out and there was (McKelvie). It's something we work on all the time - take the open ice."

With the regular season championship wrapped up, along with the top seed in the CHA tournament, Friday's game for the Beavers came down to a battle for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and a high seed. The Beavers kept their hopes for both solidly on track by notching the win.

"I don't care who you're playing in college hockey, there's no such thing as an easy game," Serratore reported. "We were fortunate - it's such a fine line between winning and losing. There was a lot of emotion; there's a lot riding on these games."

BSU's Dan Bakala was just a bit better in net in a game that featured the two best goalies in College Hockey America. Bakala ended with 28 saves on the night to record the win, while Cameron Talbot took the loss with 29 saves.

"Bakala is in a zone right now," Serratore said. "Hopefully he'll keep it going."

The Beavers got what every road team looks for in the first period, a lead. The Beavers went ahead 2-1 as the teams traded power play goals.

BSU took the early lead at 10:01, as Darcy Findlay was the recipient of a misplayed puck off the stick of Talbot. The Beavers drove the puck into the UAH zone and Talbot, attempting to ring the puck around the boards, had it slip off his stick to a waiting Findlay in the slot. Findlay deposited the puck into the empty net.

UAH came back to tie the score two minutes later on the power play. Cody Campbell scored on a deflection off a shot from Neil Ruffini at 12:02 to tie things up.

The Beavers regained the lead with a big power play goal with just 21 seconds remaining in the period.

Ian Lowe and Ben Kinne ran a perfect give-and-go play deep with Lowe connecting from just off the slot at 19:39.

There was no scoring in the second period.

The highlight was the Beavers successfully killing off a five minute major, called on Dan McIntyre for checking from behind. The Chargers never seriously threatened on the extended power play. In fact, the Beavers had the best chance with a 3 on 1 break. But Talbot came up with a big save on the play.

"The last two five minute majors we've had to kill have been text book," Serratore reported. "I can't say enough about how the guys are killing penalties."

The Beavers skated shorthanded for seven minutes of the period, yet still held a 10-6 shots on goal advantage in the second.

The Chargers showed they weren't done by scoring at 9:30 of the third to tie things up. Andrew Coburn scored on a rebound off a shot from Jamie Easton to make it a whole new ball game.

But the Beavers responded less then two minutes later to get the eventual game winner. The winning goal came at the end of an odd series of events. The Beavers got the man advantage at 12:40 as UAH was called for too many men on the ice. But the Chargers were able to poke the puck out of the zone and past the BSU defenders with Neil Ruffini looking like he was going to get a breakaway opportunity.

However, BSU's Jordan George chased Ruffini down and took him off his feet on a tripping penalty to wipe away the Charger's opportunity to tie. The BSU penalty caused on 4 on 4 situation for the teams.

Just 11 seconds after the penalty call on George, Lehrke and McKelvie worked their magic. The Beavers went on to win their 23rd game of the year and fifth in a row this season over the Chargers.

The two teams complete the series, and the final regular season games in the history of the CHA, in a 3:05 p.m. start today from the Von Braun Center.