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Bemidji State men's hockey: Robert Morris sets tone early, beats Beavers to earn split

Bemidji State's Emil Billberg, right, is checked by Robert Morris' Josh Jones, left, behind the net during the first period of Saturday night's game at John Glas Fieldhouse. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Bemidji State men's hockey coach Tom Serratore always preaches there is a fine line between wins and losses in college hockey. Regardless of overall won/loss records and previous games between teams, players better come to the arena ready to roll.

Robert Morris, a team the Beavers had defeated three times previously this season by a combined score of 13-2, came to play Saturday and defeated the Beavers 5-2 at the John Glas Fieldhouse.

Trailing 1-0 after the first and 2-0 about halfway through the second, the Beavers (18-6-2, 9-2 CHA) finally scored and made it a game at 2-1. Bemidji State tied the game near the midway point of the third, but the Colonials (8-14-4, 4-5-2 CHA) responded just 39 seconds later to regain the lead and cruise from there.

"Hats off to Robert Morris," Serratore said. "They outworked us and were the better team (Saturday). We seemed flat and stale the whole night; we didn't play with any emotion."

The Bemidji State was outplayed in the first as Robert Morris set the tone for the night, taking a 1-0 lead on a power play early in the period. The Colonials then made the lead stand up for the rest of the period.

Just 48 seconds after BSU defender Ryan Adams was called for holding, the Colonials' Nathan Longpre connected. He advanced into the BSU defensive zone, made a move around a Beaver defender and scored on a quick wrist shot from in close.

That was all the scoring in the period. The shots were even at 9-9.

Robert Morris showed it was here to play with another strong effort in the second period. The Colonials continually won puck battles and races to loose pucks in building a 2-1 lead.

RMU took a 2-0 lead on a 4-on-4 goal at 9:47. Zach Hervato picked up a loose puck at the hash marks immediately after a face off and scored on a low wrist shot. The Colonials continued to put on the pressure but the Beavers kept them off the board the rest of the period.

Bemidji State finally cracked the scoring column with 2:36 left in the second - the result of strong play down low by the line of Ben Kinne, Ryan Cramer and Brance Orban. After cycling the puck, Orban cut to the net and found Cramer alone in the slot. The junior forward ripped a one-timer past RMU goaltender Brooks Ostergard to make it 2-1.

The Colonials narrowly missed extending the lead further earlier in the period. Denny Urban and Hervato both rang shots off the pipe about a minute apart near the seven-minute mark.

At one point in the period the Colonials held an 8-2 shot advantage and ended with a 10-7 edge in the penalty-plagued period. Seven penalties were called in the period, four on the Beavers. Bemidji State also started the period on the power play for 1:59, but generated only one shot.

Bemidji State started the third period on the penalty kill for 1:01, as a late penalty on Brad Hunt in the second carried over. The Beavers killed that penalty and finally seemed to take interest in the game.

Jordan George tied things up at 2-2 as he ripped a wrist shot short side off a BSU 2-on-1 rush. The partisan BSU fans sensed this might be the play that would turn the tide for the Beavers.

But it wasn't to be.

The Colonials' Urban answered less than a minute later as RMU regained the lead. Stephan Salituro salted the game away about five minutes later, scoring off a scrum in front.

The Beavers pulled starting goaltender Dan Bakala with 2:57 left and the Beavers did put on some pressure with the extra attacker. But the Colonials defense stood tall.

Robert Morris scored an empty-net goal with one second left to claim the three-goal win.

"They beat Miami twice for a reason," Serratore said. "They played with a lot of emotion and it seemed, to them, there was a lot at stake. But there was a lot at stake for us, too. They played with a purpose and we didn't."

Bakala took the loss in net for the Beavers, ending with 25 saves on 29 shots. Ostergard got the win for Robert Morris, ending with 26 saves.

The Beavers now have next weekend off, before traveling to Pittsburgh to face the same Colonials on Feb. 12-13.