GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — Playing in its third straight CHA championship game, Bemidji State finally broke through Sunday for its first NCAA tournament bid as a Division I squad.
The top-seeded Beavers, without injured CHA Player of the Year Andrew Murray, pulled away from No. 2 seed Alabama-Huntsville en route to a 3-0 win Sunday night at the IRA Civic Center to earn the conference championship and its consequent automatic bid to the national tourney.
The two squads went toe-to-toe for two periods before the Beavers finally got things going. Off an initial BSU shot, UAH junior netminder Scott Munroe kicked the puck to the boards, but it bounced right to Bemidji’s Jean-Guy Gervais, who took a low-angle shot to open the scoring 29 seconds into the final period.
The Beavers then cashed in on their ninth power play of the night when the Charger defense redirected the puck to a crashing Brandon Cook. Munroe never had a chance as Cook scored, giving Bemidji a two-goal lead at 5:05 of the third.
The Chargers had their chances late with a pair of power plays in the final eight minutes, but BSU netminder Matt Climie was up to the task, stopping all 19 shots in the game to earn shutouts on back-to-back nights in the CHA tournament.
The Beavers added an empty-net goal by Luke Erickson at 18:41 to round out the scoring.
Penalties killed the Chargers’ flow in the second period as the nation’s most-penalized team was whistled for 10 minutes in the box. The Charger defense held the Beavers off the scoreboard but UAH had to expend a lot of energy and never got in the flow of the game.
An 0-for-7 performance on the power play helped doom UAH, which is now 0-for-5 in CHA championship games.
The loss also brings an end to the collegiate careers of UAH seniors Ryan Brown, Craig Bushey, Jared Ross, Keith Rowe and Doug Watkins.
The Chargers fell to 18-10-4 on the year while Bemidji State improved to 23-12-1 and advanced to the NCAA tournament via the CHA’s automatic bid.