AMHERST, Mass. —
When Denver rookie defenseman Andrew Thomas scored the Pioneers’ first goal of the game at 5:35 of the first period it snapped Bemidji netminder Matt Climie’s shutout streak. The rookie goaltender had not allowed a tally in 177 minutes, 41 seconds, dating back to March 5 when Air Force’s Brian Gineo scored in the first period of the Beavers’ 4-1 victory.
The streak wasn’t an aberration for Climie. The Leduc, Alb., native entered the NCAA Northeast Regional with a 1.69 goals against average — fourth-best in the country — and a .916 save percentage in 20 games this season. Not only was his GAA coming in the lowest in school history, but he has a Bemidji State rookie record four shutouts and a few weeks ago became the first CHA goalie to post back-to-back zeroes in conference tournament action.
Setting the Bar
With his assist on the Beavers’ first goal, senior blueliner John Haider set the school mark for career points by a defenseman. It was his 56th point of his career and 20th this season.
In addition, Bemidji senior Brendan Cook’s game-tying goal in the third period gave him 40 points on the season. The accomplishment made him the first-ever Division I 40-point scorer in BSU history.
Denver coach George Gwozdecky has no desire to mess with a good thing. As he has done all year, the bench boss will continue his goaltender rotation Sunday when rookie Peter Mannino returns between the pipes against New Hampshire.
The freshman, who has a better GAA (2.27) and save percentage (.921) than teammate Glenn Fisher, made school history in the WCHA championship game against Colorado College. Mannino posted his school-record third consecutive shutout in the 1-0 victory. His previous blankings came against Michigan Tech (March 12) and CC (March 4).
Back in Action?
After serving WCHA and team-imposed suspensions for his hit on North Dakota’s Robbie Bina, Denver rookie Geoff Paukovich may play in the regional final against UNH. Head coach George Gwozdecky, while saying he has yet to make up his mind on whether Paukovich will be back in the lineup Sunday, admitted that that is the likely scenario.
As the Denver-Bemidji State game remained close and the minutes disappeared from the game clock, the growing crowd began to cheer for the underdog Beavers. Eventually, chants of “Let’s Go Beavers” echoed throughout the Mullins Center late in the third period and into overtime.
“When the game was 3-3,” said BSU head coach Tom Serratore, “I thought we were going to win and 4,500 people thought so too. It was neat seeing the people cheer for us. I told the guys, ‘We just turned 4,500 into green and white [fans].’”
First Period Is The Best Period
Harvard continues to succeed in the first period, in terms of goals against. All season long, the Crimson have allowed goals in the first period just 11 times, and only once in the last 12 games.
The Third Too
New Hampshire, meanwhile, loves the third period. The Wildcats scored 55 of their 161 goals in the third this season, outscoring their opponents 55-30 in the frame. That pattern held Saturday, as the Wildcats notched the third period’s lone goal to send the game to overtime.
New Regional Record
When Harvard’s Alex Meintel scored eight seconds after UNH’s Sean Collins, he set a regional record for consecutive goals by teams in regional play. The previous record was nine seconds, set in 1992 when Northern Michigan’s Scott Beattie scored after Clarkson’s Scott Thomas.
The mark is not a tournament record, though, as that honor belongs to Michigan Tech and Minnesota from 1981. Aaron Broten scored seven seconds after Bill Terry tallied for the Huskies in a national semifinal. It does, though, tie a mark set in the 1950 championship game between Boston University and Colorado College. Jack Garrity scored eight seconds before Tony Frasca did for the Tigers.
The eight-second lapse blew away the Northeast Regional record. Only in its third year of existence, the Northeast Regional had a previous record 28 seconds set in 2003 when Brendan Bernakevitch scored for Harvard after Brian Collins did for BU.
We Meet — 11 Years Later
11 years ago, these same two teams met in the NCAA tournament in Albany, N.Y. The Crimson came away with a 7-1 win that day. That also was the last time the Crimson beat the Wildcats, as the Wildcats have now won six straight against the Crimson.
At 75:06, the UNH-Harvard game was the longest in the Northeast Regional’s short history.
Sean Collins’ goal and assist tied him with Eric Boguniecki for 12th all-time in UNH scoring, with 173 points. He is one point behind Jon Fontas, Frank Roy and Joe Flanagan for ninth place.