HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Alabama-Huntsville Chargers lost their third-straight 2-1 game in their home opener, falling to College Hockey America rival Bemidji State in the conference opener for both teams.
The Beavers were paced by Matt Read, who scored both Beavers’ goals, including the overtime game-winner.
Bemidji assistant Bert Gilling said of Read’s play, “It was funny there, about two minutes before the goal, we’re getting into the do-or-die time. Tom [Serratore] comes down the bench to me and says, ‘Now’s the time for our big-time players to make a big-time play.’ And then there’s Matt Read making a big play at a big time of the time.”
Chargers’ coach Danton Cole was visibly upset after the goal by Read caused his team to fall to 3-4-0 on the season.
“Our D-man just got soft and we screwed up and gave them a breakaway. You can’t do that against [Bemidji]. They’re a great hockey team and know how to win.”
Cole was, however, pleased with his team’s overall effort, if not the result.
“The only black mark on us early was is that our pace wasn’t up to speed. It took us a while to keep up; last week’s games [against Western Michigan] weren’t as fast as this one.”
The Beavers controlled the game from the early going, as Read scored a power-play goal with just 1:50 gone in the first period. The teams then went on to trade seven penalties each for the first two periods.
Gilling’s Beavers seemed to have control of the game, but he noted that “It was a tough game for us, because there was no flow in the first two periods with all the penalties. I thought the third period got a little bit better. We just didn’t generate many shots on net out of our play.”
The Chargers knotted the game up each when Neil Ruffini roofed a shot past Beavers’ netminder Dan Bakala.
“It was a great goal,” Cole said. “Second one he’s scored like that this year. It was just like the one against Notre Dame.”
Gilling was high on his young goaltender, who stopped 29-of-30 shots on the game and earned the second star.
“For a sophomore goaltender that really didn’t play last year, he’s really come in and played with a very professional approach to the game. He’s made big saves for us at big times all year long. He’s been very good, very steady back there.”
The two teams face off just a scant 15 hours after ending the previous game, with a Sunday afternoon start coming at 1:05 Central time.
Of the short turnaround, Gilling said, “It’s a little different. It’s the same for both teams, though. Is there a little advantage for the UAH guys sleeping in their own beds tonight instead of a hotel bed? Maybe. But I get the feeling that there’ll be a much better hockey game out there tomorrow with a lot more flow.”