Bemidji State men's hockey: BSU beats Niagara, clinches third straight CHA regular season title
Nothing like an exciting, down to the wire win to start the final weekend of hockey at the John Glas Fieldhouse. The BSU special teams dug deep and killed a five minute major late in the third period with the Beavers clinging to a 3-2 lead. The h...
Nothing like an exciting, down to the wire win to start the final weekend of hockey at the John Glas Fieldhouse.
The BSU special teams dug deep and killed a five minute major late in the third period with the Beavers clinging to a 3-2 lead. The huge penalty kill, in which the Beavers (20-7-2, 12-3 CHA) didn't allow a shot, propelled the Bemidji State men's hockey team to a 3-2 win over visiting Niagara (7-17-4, 2-8-2 CHA) Friday at the John Glas Fieldhouse.
The win clinched the Beavers' third straight regular season College Hockey America championship.
After the teams traded lone goals in the first two periods, the Beavers took control with a pair of unanswered goals in the third to take a 3-1 lead. Niagara wasn't done, however, and scored with just under eight minutes remaining to make it 3-2.
Things were not looking good for the Beavers as junior forward Matt Read was called for a five minute major for elbowing with 7:20 remaining. But the Beavers poured on the coals to keep Niagara off the board and came away with the win.
"That penalty kill was the key to the game," said BSU head coach Tom Serratore. "I was pretty nervous. With Read in the box we only had five penalty killers. I was extremely proud of the way the guys killed that penalty - we had quick shifts, they anticipated well and battled for the puck."
The Beavers won the special teams battle in the first as well, taking a 1-0 lead. With Niagara called for a holding the stick penalty at 10:41, the Beavers struck just 33 seconds later. Freshman Jordan George got the puck low to Ryan Cramer who stepped in front and got off a shot. Ian Lowe picked up the rebound in the slot and scored, this one his 15th of the season.
That was all the scoring in the period. But the Beaver penalty kill unit also played well, skating off two minors. Niagara did come close to scoring on the second as forward Egor Mironov, playing the point, rang a shot off the far post with 2:18 left in the period.
The Purple Eagles also put on a nice flurry in the last 30 seconds of the period with BSU goalie Dan Bakala making three quick saves. The Purple Eagles ended with an 11-5 shot advantage in the period.
The Beavers went on the power play early in the second, but generated nothing. It turned out to be a major momentum shift for Niagara who tied the game at 8:10. A BSU turnover at the red line generated a Niagara 3 on 2 break with Bryan Haczyk cashing in. Chris Moran and Paul Zanette had the assists on the nice give and go play.
Bakala kept Niagara from taking a lead, making a pair of huge saves. The first came near the mid-way point, a stop on a shot from Moran in close. The second came near the four minute mark as David Ross got off a one-handed back hander from just in front of the crease, but Bakala was there with a glove save.
The Beavers generated some offense in the last few minutes and ended with a 12-10 shot advantage for the period.
The Beavers took the lead for good at 4:31 of the third. Sophomore Jamie MacQueen won a race to a loose puck and entered the Niagara defensive zone leading a 2 on 1 rush. He ripped a shot past Niagara goalie Adam Avramenko short side.
"I just concentrated on shooting as hard as I could," MacQueen said. "I love talking that low glove side shot."
BSU made it 3-1 less than two minutes later. George sent a spectacular behind the back pass to Read, who hesitated until Avramenko committed. Read then lifted a shot top shelf at 6:14.
The goal was the 100th career point for Read.
With the capacity crowd buzzing, Niagara soon silenced them all. Zanette connected off an assist from Haczyk at 12:11 to make it 3-2.
Then the BSU special teams took over as the Beavers notched their 20th win of the season.
"It was a nerve-wracking game," Serratore reported. "We didn't have our legs and didn't take care of the puck. As a coach, you have high expectations and when it doesn't happen you get disappointed.
"But a bad win is a good win, as we all know. It's just that we want to be clicking on all eight cylinders this time of year. Bottom line - we won. The guys showed character and resiliency in that third period. But we need to be much better (tonight).
E Pregame ceremonies included introducing the BSU Hall of Fame entrants for 2010. Included were the 1966-67 and 1978-79 men's swim teams. Individuals included James Lind (collegiate and professional football coach), Rick Engh (1973-wrestling), Charlie Knott (1974-wrestling/football), Frank Kopetka (1975-basketball), Jean Musgjerd (1985 and 1992-volleyball/basketball) and Joel Otto (1980-84-hockey).
- Former BSU head men's hockey coach Dr. Vic Weber and Otto dropped the ceremonial first puck.
- The Beavers wore commemorative jerseys for the game, in recognition of the tradition of the program and The Glas. The green jerseys featured two white shoulder stripes and special shoulder patches. The front had white numbers and the back included a name plate, featuring the name John S. Glas.
- The assist by Moran on Niagara's first goal gave him 96 for his career. He became the all-time assist leader for the Purple Eagles.