LEWISTON, N.Y. — Junior right winger Steve Charlebois’s first career hat trick sparked Alabama-Huntsville to a 5-2 win over Bemidji State in the first semifinal of the College Hockey America postseason tournament. The third-seeded Chargers will face either Wayne State or Air Force at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Dwyer Arena.
The Chargers skated out to an early one-goal lead when senior left winger Jessi Otis put home the puck off passes from freshman center Jared Ross and freshman winger Craig Bushey with 5:42 gone in the first period. No more goals were scored in the period, and Bemidji State led in shots on goal, 13-12.
The Chargers extended their lead with Charlebois’s first goal of the night, a power-play goal off a redirection of a slapshot from the blue line by junior defenseman Tyler Butler. Jason Hawes also received an assist on the goal, which was scored with 15:08 gone in the second.
The Beavers answered just 25 seconds later with a goal of their own, by Donny DeMars past UAH goalie Mark Byrne. DeMars was assisted by defensemen John Haider and Jesse Balsimo.
Charlebois answered 1:35 later with his second goal off a centering pass along the goal line from junior right winger Joel Bresciani. David Halliwill fed Bresciani on the play and also received an assist. That ended the scoring for the third, with UAH leading in shots on goal 9-8.
The Chargers played a defensive-minded game in the third period for the second straight afternoon, choosing to play dump-and-chase and meeting every Bemidji rush in the neutral zone. Even so, the Chargers added two goals in the period.
The first came with 6:39 gone in the period, when Otis again scored, this time just as the Beavers were coming off of the power play. Otis beat Bemidji goaltender Grady Hunt stick side with a backhand over the leg pad. Otis was assisted by Butler and junior center Gerald Overton on the play.
Bemidji coach Tom Serratore pulled Hunt with around 3:30 left in the period, and the extra attacker allowed the Beavers to get back into the game. Bill Methven was added to the group of skaters, and he scored on the 6-on-5 on assists from his brother, Bryce, and Jeff McGill.
Hunt returned to the ice for the next faceoff at center ice, but he was gone not 20 seconds later as Bemidji sought to close the gap. It backfired, however, as Bresciani fed Charlebois for his third of the night after senior defenseman Kevin Ridgeway cleared the puck out of the UAH zone..
After the game, UAH coach Doug Ross highlighted Otis’s goal off of the penalty kill as a “key to us winning the game. He got a good pass, split the defense, and made a great shot on the backhand.”
Of the injury to sophomore Steve Milosevski, Ross said, “He’s got a sprained ankle, and he’ll keep ice on it all night. We’re going to hope that he can play for us, but he just might not play.”