DETROIT — Bemidji State keeps getting the bounces and Wayne State keeps getting victimized by that same unpredictable happenstance.
Such is life these days in College Hockey America as the Beavers kept the wins coming with a 4-1 win Friday night in front of 551 at the Michigan State Fairgrounds Coliseum.
Lou Garritan capitalized on a Wayne State miscommunication behind the net and stripped the puck from WSU goalie Will Hooper for an easy put away that made the game 2-1 in favor of the Beavers 10:26 into the second period.
“(Hooper) came behind the net to play it and I got into his passing lane and he just sort of froze,” said Garritan of his shorthanded game-winner. “Our penalty kill is very aggressive and if we have a chance to go at someone, we go. He could have just rimmed it off the glass, but he froze and I stole the puck and was able to walk out for the easy wrap.”
Mark Cannon had given the Warriors (0-6-1, 0-2-1 CHA) a 1-0 lead at the 11:44 mark of the first period when he followed up a rebound of an Adam Krug shot that hit the crossbar and bounced onto Cannon’s stick. Bemidji State goalie Matt Climie didn’t recover and Cannon crashed the net for a quick put-back.
Then Luke Erickson tied it on a BSU power play early in the second period. Tyler Scofield fed a pass through two Wayne State penalty killers to the left point where Erickson one-timed a blast top shelf on Hooper.
Matt Kelly has played the bulk of WSU’s games this season, so to see Hooper in net was a mild surprise.
“‘Hoop’ performed better in practice this week,” Warriors’ head coach Bill Wilkinson noted. “Kelly knows he needs to compete harder. Will was the better man this week and maybe it’s his time to see more action.”
Wilkinson wouldn’t tip his goaltending choice for Saturday, however.
Both teams had to kill of five-minute major checking from behind penalties as Bemidji State’s Blaine Jarvis and Wayne State’s Adam Smith both got the gate 1:18 apart early in the third period. Both are eligible to play tomorrow as they received game misconducts instead of game disqualifications.
“Our penalty kill was outstanding,” Beavers’ head coach Tom Serratore said. “Games against Wayne State are always great and it was really a mini-war out there. We killed a couple 5-on-3′s and had a lot of opportunities on special teams. It’s always great to get a league road win.”
Jake Bluhm added an empty-net goal for Bemidji State at 19:22 of the third period and then with Hooper back in net, Ryan Huddy completed the scoring when he kept the puck on a 2-on-nothing and beat Hooper cleanly glove side.
“(Bemidji) has a balanced attack and solid goaltending,” Wilkinson said. “We hit a couple posts and Will made a few miscues, but that’s the way things have been traveling for us lately. If Will doesn’t make that mistake behind the net and our shots that hit posts go in, it’s a different game and maybe we win. But that wasn’t the case tonight.”
Hooper finished with 19 saves while Climie made 25 stops. Serratore added that his team has “two No. 1 goalies” and that Layne Sedevie will start Saturday night for the Beavers (6-1-0, 2-1-0 CHA).
“Tonight is how we’ve been playing all season,” said Climie, the CHA’s preseason player of the year. “It was a close game, but we had a strong PK and guys were blocking shots and doing the little things. Maybe two weeks ago when we lost to Air Force we were too high on ourselves, myself included, and we realized that any team can win the league this year. But we need to keep building confidence and see where it takes us.”
The puck on Saturday night’s rematch drops at 7:05 p.m.