MEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers break out the brooms
BEMIDJI -- A three-goal second period propelled the Bemidji State men's hockey team to a 4-1 win and a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series sweep over Alabama Huntsville Saturday night at the Sanford Center.
BEMIDJI -- A three-goal second period propelled the Bemidji State men’s hockey team to a 4-1 win and a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series sweep over Alabama Huntsville Saturday night at the Sanford Center.
Gerry Fitzgerald recorded three points with a goal and two assists while Zach Whitecloud scored his second goal in as many games in his two-point night.
“That was a tight game,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “We got a little puck luck there in the second period and we were fortunate to get a little puck luck. It’s good to have it every now and then.”
The sweep is the second straight for the Beavers (9-6-5, 6-4-4-2 WCHA) and brings their win streak up to four games and their unbeaten streak up to seven (4-0-3).
“We still have some things to look at and be better at but being unbeaten in seven is huge for us,” Gerry Fitzgerald said. “It’s definitely given us some confidence and some swagger when we’re on the ice.”
“It makes it a good new year,” Serratore said of the team’s run. “We had to respond. We really needed four out of four and we got it with the two Anchorage wins and these two wins. We dug a hole for ourselves. Now we’re slowly but surely digging ourselves out of that hole. But again, when you only have four (WCHA) home games left and you have 10 (WCHA) road games, they were points that we had to have.”
Jordan Uhelski coughed up a rebound to Jay Dickman in front of the net for the first goal of the evening at 12:52 of the first period. The big-bodied forward deposited the puck five-hole for his team-leading 11th goal of the season.
After going his first 16 games of the season without a goal, Zach Whitecloud scored his second in as many nights just 18 seconds into the second period. His goal would again stand as the game-winner for the second straight game.
Josh Kestner also recorded his second goal of the series minutes later. The Chargers’ leading scorer tallied his 14th goal of the season on a deflection from a bouncing puck at 5:13 of the frame.
Adam Brady returned a two-goal lead to the Beavers, beating Uhelski from a tough angle just 19 seconds into the team’s first power-play opportunity for his second tally of the series.
Brady’s linemate Gerry Fitzgerald gave the Beavers a three-goal cushion with 41 seconds left in the frame, shortly after they killed their first penalty.
“I love playing with (Brady) and (Charlie Combs),” Fitzgerald said of his fellow top-liners. “We have some good chemistry. We’ve been playing together for a while now and I just really enjoy it. (Brady) is really good around the net and (Combs) is feisty so it works out really well.”
The goal was Fitzgerald’s (5g-15a) fifth of the season as he moves into a tie with Kyle Bauman (6g-14a) for the team lead with 20 points.
Michael Bitzer stopped 22 shots to earn his ninth win in net. Uhelski made 28 saves on 32 shots for UAH.
The Beavers will begin a stretch that will see them play seven of their next eight games on the road. Bemidji State will make the trip to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. for its first meeting with Lake Superior State next weekend Jan. 5-6.
The 14 points BSU earned in its six-game homestand puts them in fifth place in the WCHA standings with 24 points on the year. The recent run of results has the Beavers in a good position entering their first series of 2018.
“Tactically we’re playing well, our work ethic is good, our discipline is good,” Serratore said. “We just have to make sure that we play with the lot of experience that we have and now we (have to) see what we’re made of on the road.”
Bemidji State 4, Alabama Huntsville 1
UAH 0 1 0 -- 1
BSU 1 3 0 -- 4
First period -- 1, BSU, Dickman (M. Fitzgerald, Bauman), 12:52.
Second period -- 2, BSU, Whitecloud (G. Fitzgerald), 0:18; 3, UAH, Kestner (Wunder, Buri), 5:13; 4, BSU, Brady (G. Fitzgerald, Whitecloud), 15:57, PP; 5, BSU, G. Fitzgerald (Heller, Baudry), 19:19.
Third period -- No scoring.
Goaltending (Shots-Saves) -- BSU, Bitzer (23-22); UAH, Uhelski (32-28).