Beavers going back to The Dance
DETROIT -- And we'll see you again in a couple of weeks... After a roller-coaster year of major ups and downs, the Bemidji State men's hockey team came through when it mattered most, capturing the College Hockey America tournament title 4-2 over ...
DETROIT -- And we'll see you again in a couple of weeks...
After a roller-coaster year of major ups and downs, the Bemidji State men's hockey team came through when it mattered most, capturing the College Hockey America tournament title 4-2 over Niagara University Sunday.
In addition to retaining the McLeod Cup, the tournament victory also earned the Beavers (20-13-3, 14-7-1 CHA) a return trip to the NCAA tournament. BSU will find out its tournament seed, first-round opponent and location of the game during the NCAA selection show next Sunday.
The Beavers advanced to the tournament final following a dramatic 4-3 overtime victory over arch-rival Alabama-Huntsville on Saturday night. There was some concern how the Beavers would respond both physically and mentally to playing the tourney final after a quick turnaround.
Any concerns were soon put as aside as the Beavers went toe-to-toe with Niagara from the opening bell. Both teams went up and down the ice strongly in the scoreless first period with the Eagles holding a 12-9 shot advantage.
For the next period, and a little more, it was all Beavers.
Bemidji State made it 1-0 with 6:23 to go in the second period. On a faceoff at the near circle near Niagara goalie Jeff Van Nynatten, junior Ryan Miller won the draw and got the puck back to junior forward Luke Erickson. Erickson fired a shot that Van Nynatten saved and headed for the net. Erickson picked up his own rebound and flipped the puck across the crease to Ryan Huddy, who was crashing the net from the far side.
Huddy calmly deposited the puck into the open net for a 1-0 BSU lead.
As BSU head coach Tom Serratore constantly says, getting that first goal is often times the biggest key of the game. The Beavers improved to 18-2-2 on the year when scoring first.
The Beavers then scored what could have been the back breaker of the game for Niagara. With BSU's Matt Allen off for tripping, the Beavers scored shorthanded with 29 seconds remaining in the period for a 2-0 lead.
Just when Niagara thought it might have the opportunity to get back to even, the Purple Eagles were instead looking at a two-goal deficit entering the third period.
Jake Bluhm created a turnover at mid-ice. Miller then swooped in and grabbed the puck at the blue line and headed for the net. Bluhm joined the rush and crashed the net. Miller faked Van Nynatten to the ice and put a shot across the crease that found its way into the net. Replays showed it could have deflected off of Niagara defender.
The Beavers then scored another huge goal, taking a 3-0 lead just 1:07 into the third. BSU senior captain and emotional leader Jean-Guy Gervais scored his first of two on the day. Gervais hustled hard to create a 2-on-1 break, got a pass from Tyler Scofield, dug the pass out of his skates and connected short side past Van Nynatten.
Niagara responded quickly, however, and cut the lead to 3-1 just 41 seconds later as Vince Rocco connected off a rebound.
The Beavers then got into some major penalty trouble later in the third, taking three penalties in a span of less than three minutes. The Beavers were able to kill a pair of Niagara 5-on-3 advantages, but couldn't keep Niagara off the board for the entire span.
Ted Cook made it 3-2 when he scored from point-blank range on the power play with just over five minutes remaining.
The vaunted BSU defense took over from there, seldom allowing the Eagles a chance to get rolling.
Gervais then put the game away for the Beavers with 1:47 left, scoring his second of the night. Once again it was Scofield who got a pass to Gervais at the near circle. Gervais made a great move around a Niagara defender in close and faked Van Nynatten out of position, depositing the big goal to the back of the net.
It was all over from there.
"The boys are excited and they should be," Serratore said. "They had some unfinished business to settle after Niagara beat us twice in New York a couple of weeks ago.
"This has been kind of an odd year with a lot of ups and downs. But we won 20 games and will be hanging another banner in The Glas."
Junior Layne Sedevie got the win in net for the Beavers, his fourth straight after taking over the No. 1 goalie spot prior to the last regular-season series. He out-dueled Van Nynatten, the CHA C0-Player of the Year, making 31 saves on 33 Niagara shots to improve his record to 12-6-1 on the year. Van Nynatten took the loss, making 19 saves on 23 shots.
"You are only as good as your insurance policy," Serratore said. "The goalie is our insurance policy."
Guess that means the Beavers won't be switching providers any time soon.
The CHA All-Tournament Team included BSU's Sedevie, Miller and Martens, along with forward Logan Bittle of Robert Morris, and forward Cook and defenseman Andrew Lackner of Niagara.
Gervais was named the tournment's Most Valuable Player.
BSU 0 2 2 -- 4
NU 0 0 2 -- 2
Scoring -- none. Penalties -- Riley Weselowski, BSU (interference), 6:33, Ted Cook, NU (roughing), 6:33, Matt Pope, BSU (interference), 15:20, Sean Bentivoglio, NU (ob-holding), 16:35.
Scoring -- 1, BSU, Ryan Huddy 8 (Luke Erickson, Ryan Miller), 13:37. 2, BSU, Miller 17 (Jake Bluhm), 19:31 (sh). Penalties -- Shane Holman, BSU (interference), 7:58, Cook, NU (ob-tripping), 14:01, Matt Allen, BSU (tripping), 18:03
Scoring -- 3, BSU, Jean-Guy Gervais 11 (Tyler Scofield, Andrew Martens), 1:07. 4, NU, Vince Rocco 11 (Tim Madsen), 1:48. 5, NU, Cook 20 (Justin Cross, Bentivoglio), 14:54. 6, BSU, Gervais 12 (Scofield, Dave Deterding), 18:13. Penalties -- Les Reaney, NU (charging), 9:35, Pope, BSU (slashing), 11:32, Bench, BSU (too many men-served by Garrett Roth), 12:42, Martens, BSU (roughing), 14:33.
Shots -- BSU 9-8-6 23, NU 12-6-15 33
Saves -- BSU-Layne Sedevie (30-33), NU-Jeff Van Nynatten (19-23)
Power Play -- BSU 0 for 3, NU 1 for 6
Referee -- Kevin Hall. Assistant referees -- Chris Davis, T.J. Likens
A -- 752