College Hockey:
Warriors Thankful for Series Split with Beavers

— The Wayne State Warriors (8-5-1, 2-1-1 CHA) kept alive their streak of not losing back-to-back games this season as they beat up the Bemidji State Beavers, 6-4, at the Compuware Arena on Tuesday night.

The loss also snapped WSU’s five-game losing skid to the Beavers and ended BSU’s five-game win streak.

“We played with a lot more intensity tonight,” said Warriors head coach Bill Wilkinson. “The bounce of the puck also went our way and we had some goals that were questionable. Our energy and intensity level, though, really paid off for us tonight.”

The Warriors turned things around from Monday’s game by outhustling the Beavers (6-4-0, 3-1-0 CHA) and gaining a 15-9 shot advantage in the first period.

Wayne State also capitalized on Bemidji mistakes, scoring the first goal when Beavers goalie Layne Sedevie came out of the net to play a puck. Sedevie attempted to get the puck up ice, but Warrior senior John Grubb picked it off and fired it into an open net at 2:58 for his first goal of the season.

The Beavers scored the equalizer with a power-play marker by Andrew Murray at 12:03. Murray’s innocent flip at the net hit Warriors netminder Matt Kelly and trickled in for his third of the campaign.

The Warriors took advantage of the Beavers again on a 5-on-3 power play at 14:25. After a quick passing play, John May beat Sedevie to a rebound and fired it home to give the Warriors their second lead of the night.

“Dan Illiakis shot it from the point and the rebound came right to me, so I just picked it up and put it in,” said May. “Everyone played within the system and it feels really good to get the win tonight. We’ve got some bumps and bruises, though, so it’ll be good to get finally get some rest.”

Mike Forgie kept up the pressure for the Warriors in the second as he picked up another loose puck in the crease and tipped it in for a power-play goal at 4:31.

The Beavers pulled within one goal at 7:56 when Luke Erickson flew to a loose puck to the right of the Warrior goal and rifled it past a diving Kelly. The power-play goal was started by Monday’s hero, John Haider, on a blistering shot from just inside the blueline.

The Warriors got the lead back to two with their third power-play goal of the evening at 12:56. Blueliner Steve Kovalchik fired a wrist shot from the blueline that beat Sedevie stickside for his fifth power-play marker of the season.

Kovalchik is developing into a power-play specialist, with six of his seven career goals coming with the man advantage.

May put the Wayne State up by a seemingly-unreachable margin as he flipped a shot on the Beaver goal with just one tick left on the clock in the second. May’s second marker of the night came from a foot off the boards and a few strides off the goal line, hit Sedevie on the inside of the right leg pad and rolled into the net as time expired.

The goal was enough for Beavers coach Tom Serratore as he pulled his number-one netminder in favor of Matt Climie for the final 20 minutes.

Give the Beavers credit, though, as despite playing their fourth game in five nights, they didn’t give up, down three goals on the road.

“Of course I’m proud of our guys,” said Serratore. “We gave up that ugly goal at the buzzer, but I thought we really responded in the third and took control. We scored a couple of goals and made it a game and that’s all you can ask of the guys.”

The Beavers started building momentum after winning a faceoff to the left of Kelly. Jean-Guy Gervais blasted a shot from just inside the circle that hit a Warrior stick and went five-hole for the goal, just 1:16 into the final period.

With Warriors winger Nate Higgins off for interference, the Beavers pulled their goalie and Rob Sirianni converted on a pretty, cross ice one-timer at 19:07 from Andrew Murray to make it a one goal game.

The Warriors didn’t let it slip away, though, and iced a valuable pair of conference points when Higgins redeemed himself with an empty-net goal with six seconds left.

The last time the Warriors beat the Beavers in the regular season was a 6-1 triumph in Detroit on February 8, 2003. Tuesday’s win also gives the Warriors eight in 14 games this season. Last year, the Warriors only managed nine wins for the entire season.

After the Thanksgiving break, the Beavers will continue their season-long six-game road trip by returning to Michigan for a pair against the CCHA’s Lake Superior State Lakers.

The Warriors will continue conference action as they travel West for a pair against the Air Force Falcons on December 3 and 4.

Notes: Beavers senior forward and team goal-scoring leader Brendan Cook was re-injured when he was hit by the Warriors’ Tylor Michel after scoring an empty-net goal on Monday night. Cook sat out Tuesday’s finale and was replaced with a seventh defenseman, Niko Suoraniemi.

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