KEARNEY, Neb. — Andrew Murray had two goals and two assists, and Grady Hunt saved all 29 shots he faced in leading Bemidji State to a 4-0 victory over Findlay in the first round of the College Hockey America tournament in Kearney, Neb. Bemidji has now held opponents scoreless for the last 233:17.
Grady Hunt has been a big part of that shutout streak. “I think it’s a great accomplishment for the school and the team. We’ve been working defense all year and it shows it on the ice.”
Findlay had a couple early goal scoring opportunities, including one that went off the post. “We had one go in off the post, come back out, and they come down the ice and score,” said Findlay coach Craig Barnett. “If we could have scored early tonight, who knows what could have happened.”
Hunt said that he didn’t see the shot. “I didn’t see it, and got lucky on that one. They like to work guys in front of the net and fling shots in there, but we worked on that and our guys did a good job clearing guys out, collapsing gusy in front. The guys have been sticking to it and taking pride in our defense.”
Andrew Murray said that he and his teammates started slowly but got it going. “The first period was more of a feeling out. In the second period, we turned it on and started playing Beaver hockey and scoring goals, and then Grady stepped it up, and we really got it going.”
Bill Methven opened the scoring for Bemidji State with a lucky goal along the goal line that caromed off the boot of Findlay goaltender Jamie VandeSpyker and into the Findlay net. Findlay then scored twice in :39 seconds to open the second period.
Murray described both goals, saying, “The first one, Bryce Methven just put a good shot out there on the point. On the second one, Cook was driving wide and found me open, and I got lucky and went in.”
Murray added his second marker in the third to close the scoring. The third period was lowlighted by Bryce Methven being dumped into the boards by Findlay’s Lee Arnold, who received a major. Bill Methven jumped off the bench in a fit of brotherly concern and received a game disqualification for his actions.
Bemidji coach Tom Serratore seemed disappointed in Methven’s action and spoke on the effect the loss will have. “Losing a player like that always impacts your chemistry on something like that. We’ll have Donny DeMars out there tomorrow, though, and we think he can step in and fill that hole.”
Serratore spoke about how his team is playing at present, saying, “We’re playing our best hockey of the season right now. We feel that we’re doing the things we need to be doing in our championship. Obviously, Huntsville’s going to have something to do with that. They’re the premier team in our league, and they’ve proved that over the course of the 20 games of the season.”
After the game, Barnett was visibly frustrated. “We’re certainly disappointed with the loss. It’s been one of those seasons for us where we’ve had a difficult time scoring goals and generating the offense. We just had one of those times tonight.”
Findlay was missing CHA All-Rookie forward Andrew Radzak, who did not make the trip. “I think Andrew Radzak’s the only pure goal scorer we have. When we lost him, we were worried about our scoring. Bemidji came out and played solid. This game’s a credit to their team and to their style of hockey.”
Barnett said that his team would seek to build on this season’s efforts. “We’re very proud of the guys in the locker room downstairs. The last three or four weeks, our guys have been getting out there and doing it. We’re very proud of our six seniors. They’ve grown this program to where it is now, and they’ll be missed. They may not have the stats, but they’re great guys and have meant a lot to our program.”
The Beavers will face off against top-ranked Alabama-Huntsville at 7:05 p.m. in the second semifinal of the 2003 College Hockey America tournament.