BEMIDJI, Minn. — Bemidji State moved closer to clinching its second consecutive CHA regular-season championship, topping archrival Alabama-Huntsville, 3-2, in a hard-fought contest Saturday.
BSU’s victory extended its lead over the Chargers in the CHA standings to five points, with the Beavers having two conference games remaining on their regular-season slate and the Chargers with four CHA games left.
Alabama-Huntsville is at Robert Morris next weekend and ends its regular season at Wayne State, while BSU has only a March 4-5 series at Air Force.
Bemidji State grabbed an early 2-0 lead and never looked back. Sophomore Ryan Miller scored his first goal since Nov. 13, 2004 at 8:41 of the first, taking a pass from Ryan Huddy and Blaine Jarvis to stake the Beavers to a 1-0 lead.
That lead held for seven minutes, until Andrew Martens scored his first career power-play goal at 15:04 of the first period after a brief scrap at the Bemidji State net.
At 13:55 of the first, Huntsville’s Grant Selinger let loose a shot on goal and then collided with BSU goaltender Layne Sedevie. The collision led to penalties on Selinger for goaltender interference and on BSU’s Jean-Guy Gervais for roughing, and Selinger retaliated against Gervais and drew an additional roughing minor which led to the power play.
The pair of penalties on Selinger would be the beginning of a rough night for the Charger center. He was whistled for four penalties in the game, and two of those penalties led to BSU power-play goals.
BSU took the 2-0 lead into the first intermission, following suit from Friday night and outshooting the Chargers 19-6 in the period. In the two-game series, BSU outshot Huntsville by a combined 39-10 in the first period.
Huntsville’s Dominick Rozman pulled the Chargers within a goal, 2-1, just 2:05 into the second period off a pass from Todd Bentley and David Nimmo, but BSU needed just 10 minutes to answer.
Selinger drew his third penalty of the night, a crosscheck at 11:09 of the period, and Brendan Cook responded with his team-leading 17th goal of the season at 12:31 with helpers from linemate Andrew Murray and Rob Sirianni.
Huntsville’s Keith Rowe took advantage of an elbowing penalty against BSU’s Peter Jonsson at 8:03 of the third period to pull the Chargers within a goal, 3-2, but the visitors would get no closer. Huntsville pulled goaltender Scott Munroe with 1:15 to play in regulation, but could not muster the equalizer.
“That was our best outing of the year,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “The intensity was there [and] we were tough. Really tough. All of our guys hit and finished their checks.”
BSU’s special teams units were the difference. The Beavers went 2-for-6 on the power play, including Cook’s game-winner in the second period, and held the CHA-leading Charger power play to one goal on five chances.
“Our special teams really clicked,” Serratore said. “We pushed the puck on the power play very well.”
Sedevie saved 17 of 19 shots faced for BSU to earn the win and improve to 11-7-0 on the year. Munroe notched 33 saves and saw his season mark drop to 13-8-4.
The victory improved Bemidji State to 19-10-1 on the season and 14-4-0 for 28 points in College Hockey America play, while Alabama-Huntsville dropped to 14-8-4 and 11-3-1 for 23 points in CHA play.