DETROIT — Bemidji forward Rob Sirianni one-timed a Garret Roth set up in front of the Alabama-Huntsville slot to complete a courageous come-from-behind overtime victory, sending the Beavers onto a final showdown with Niagara in the CHA championship on Sunday.
Leading, 2-1, midway through the third, Alabama appeared to have exorcised its Bemidji ghost after Dominik Rozman sprinted down his wing and beat Beaver goaltender Layne Sedevie for a crucial two-goal cushion.
Who knew then that the sweetness of the moment would eventually turn sour for the Chargers as Bemidji scored three unanswered goals and willed its way back to the championship game for a fourth straight time.
“We got kicked in the teeth in the second period,” Bemidji coach Tom Serratore said. “But I’m proud of the way we responded. All you can do is keep going. We were hoping for that one goal and when we got it, it’s a one goal game.”
Serratore was refering to Luke Erickson’s tally off of assists from Ryan Miller and Ryan Huddy. That goal was the crack in the Chargers’ armor that led Bemidji to a furious rally. Ironically, the play began off an odd bounce from an Alabama defenseman’s leg. Without the clear, the Beavers swooped down on the loose puck and sent a reminder past Charger goalie Scott Munroe that there was still a lot of game to be played.
The Beavers continued to press while Alabama played a conservative style as the third period wore on. Tyler Scofield registered the tying goal when he took multiple whacks at the puck while it appeared to be covered by Munroe. The whistle never came and Scofield managed to get enough rubber to send the puck just over the goal line.
Alabama had a dramatic chance with 15 seconds left when Grant Selinger somehow broke in free against Sedevie. Selinger went to the blocker side but was denied and the contest veered into overtime.
After a tenuous overtime re-surfacing incident, in which a backup Zamboni nearly rendered the playing surface momentarily unplayable, some quick work by rink officials averted a comical disaster. Finally, the last patch of worn ice was shaved and sprayed and the game could continue.
A minute and 20 seconds later, the Beavers were piling onto each other to celebrate the victory, while the Chargers faithful stood paralyzed by loss.
All that was left was for the Charger band to belt out a mournful rendering of “House of the Rising Sun.” And what a fine rendition it was.