LEWISTON, N.Y. — It was the worst possible outcome for Bemidji State, but exactly what Niagara needed as the Purple Eagles completed a two-game series sweep of the Beavers with a 3-1 win Friday at Dwyer Arena.
After the teams skated to a scoreless first period, Mike Bozoian put the Purple Eagles on the board first with his first goal of the season at 5:46 of the second period. Niagara then needed just 20 seconds to score its second goal, the eventual game-winner off the stick of Chris Sebastian at 6:06 of the second, and took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission.
BSU finally broke up the shutout at 9:48 of the third period, when Says Phrakonkham picked up his third goal of the season on a shorthanded opportunity to pull BSU to within a goal, 2-1. The Beavers would get no closer.
BSU pulled starting goaltender Grady Hunt for an extra attacker at 18:32 of the third period and skated with an open net for 1:24. Niagara iced the game with an empty-net goal, the fourth empty-netter allowed by BSU this year, by Joe Tallari with just four seconds to play in regulation.
Tallari finished with a game-high two points, picking up his 12th goal of the year on the empty-net tally and assisting on Bozoian’s goal in the second. Seven other players scored a point apiece to round out the scoring for the Purple Eagles.
Phrakonkham’s shorthanded goal was the second of his career; his previous shorthanded tally came Feb. 26, 2000 against Air Force. It also marked his first career unassisted goal. Phrakonkham has three goals in BSU’s last nine games after going 51 games without scoring a goal.
After starting 8-0-2 against CHA competition, Hunt was beaten for the second consecutive night and saw his season mark fall to 11-9-3. He managed 22 saves on 25 shots faced. Rob Bonk saved 23 of 24 shots faced to earn the win for the Purple Eagles, improving to 17-10-0 on the year.
The Niagara sweep drops BSU to 3-7-2 all-time against the Purple Eagles, 0-6-0 at Niagara University.
Bemidji State, which entered the series just one point behind Wayne State for first place in College Hockey America, was swept in a CHA series for the first time since Feb. 2-3, 2001 in 3-2 and 2-1 losses to Alabama-Huntsville. Niagara, which had lost four in a row — including a two-game sweep at the hands of the Beavers in Bemidji just two weeks ago, swept its second CHA series of the year after posting 4-1 and 6-3 home wins over Findlay, Oct. 26-27.
With tonight’s loss, Bemidji State falls to 12-14-4 overall and remains in second place in College Hockey America with 21 points (8-4-3). Niagara improves to 17-13-0 and picks up its 16th point in CHA play (8-7-0).