NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. — If the first two games of the season series between Bemidji State and Robert Morris are any indication of what to expect in the final four match-ups, the equipment managers for both teams had better be prepared with double the normal amount of ice packs. The Beavers and Colonials finished up their weekend series with a physically punishing contest that saw Bemidji State go four-for-seven on the power play and saw Robert Morris still looking for a goaltending solution.
At the 1:50 mark of the first period, Beaver forward Brandon Marino put a thundering check on Colonial Chris Kushneriuk and was sent off the ice for the evening for checking from behind, putting his team on a five-minute disadvantage. Things didn’t get much better for the Beavers when Travis Winter was called for boarding less than two minutes later to give the Colonials a two man advantage, which they capitalized on.
RMU sophomore forward Kyle Burton gave his team the early lead on a shot from close range with assists from Nathan Longpre, and Denny Urban at the 4:22 mark. It was just the second time all season that the Colonials had scored the first goal of the game and seemed to offer a confidence boost to the Colonials. However, it marked the only goal that the Beavers would surrender, as the power-play tally woke up Bemidji.
The Beavers proceeded to hem the Colonials in their own end virtually the rest of the period, outshooting them 14-4 in the first and drawing four straight RMU penalties, scoring three straight power-play goals, deftly moving the puck around the perimeter, and picking the right time to pull the trigger.
BSU defenseman Brad Hunt got his team rolling with his second goal of the weekend on a hard, low shot from the right point at 10:14 of the first while his team was on a two-man advantage.
Greg McManamin then scored less than three minutes later on another BSU power play at 13:02 with a rocket from the center that beat Colonials’ goaltender Wes Russell clean to the glove side.
At 17:14 of the first, freshman Jamie MacQueen picked the top left corner as a good resting place for his fourth goal of the season, putting his team up 3-1 in the first period
McManin ended up with five points on the weekend, and Beavers’ defenseman Brad Hunt tallied two power-play goals on the weekend as well. The influx of offense from the backline has been a contributing factor to the current three-game winning streak for the Beavers.
“The last couple of weeks, we’re getting a lot of offense from our backline, and when those guys can advance the puck like they do, it makes things a lot easier, and the forwards can get in spots to generate offense,” remarked BSU coach Tom Serratore . “Graham’s got a lot of poise with the puck. Brad also is a competitive kid, and he’s got a wicked stick right now.”
The Colonials tried to either shake things up a bit, or find solid ground between the pipes, replacing starting goaltender Wes Russell, who had allowed three goals on 11 shots, with freshman Brooks Ostergard. It marked the third goaltending switch of the weekend for the Colonials. Ostergard stopped 19 of 21 shots the rest of the way, and RMU coach Derek Schooley seemed pleased with his performance.
“Brooks played really well; he was put in a pretty tough situation, and it was good to see him have some success.”
RMU tilted the ice at times in the second, but could generate no real prime scoring chances.
Bemidji State forward Shea Walters re-opened the scoring at 10:36 of the third, placing a laser beam of a shot in the top right corner, while his team had the use of an extra attacker by virtue of two separate delayed Colonials’ penalties. BSU captain Travis Winter closed out the scoring with his fifth goal of the season, putting home a loose puck in the crease to beat a sprawled out Ostergard at the 14:33 mark, earning the Beavers their fourth power-play tally on the night.
“Anytime you can get a sweep like this it’s exciting, but everything changes from week to week too,” said Serratore. “We’re just trying to get on a little bit of a roll now.”