NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. — The score remained the same tonight at the Island Sports Center. The Robert Morris Colonials and Bemidji State Beavers played their third consecutive 5-2 game in their conference series, only this time the Beavers ended up the victors. Bemidji State rode senior Tyler Lehrke’s four-point night, and two goals in a 2:03 span of the third period to down the Colonials, earning a weekend split for their effort.
“It was a great start for our team; we went after it and had a lot of energy, but they got that first goal from a turnover and went from there,” Colonials coach Derek Schooley said. “It was a good hockey game but it just got away from us.”
In a complete turnaround from the previous game, the Colonials dominated the early moments of the contest, getting prime scoring chances on almost every shift throughout the first five minutes, only to hear the sound of the pipes and the glove of Beavers’ goaltender Mathieu Dugas, who made some nice saves throughout the Colonials’ onslaught. However, once the early pressure subsided, the Beavers settled into their game plan and worked it nearly flawlessly throughout the remainder of the first period.
Bemidji State got on the board first, capitalizing on the Colonials’ inability to get the puck out of their own end. Lehrke unleashed a shot from the left circle that beat Colonials’ netminder Brooks Ostergard at 16:13 of the first period, with the lone assist going to Chris McKelvie. The Beavers then kept the Colonials off the board and out of the prime scoring areas, winning many loose pucks in neutral ice and keeping possession consistently.
For the second night in a row, the Colonials found themselves with some work to do at the start of the second period, as they opened the frame short-handed. However, this night they couldn’t come up with the critical penalty kill.
Once again the Colonials had a couple of cracks at getting a loose puck out of the zone and were only a few inches away when sophomore winger Ben Kinne beat Ostergard with a rising shot from between the circles at 1:52 of the second, as the Beavers doubled their lead and changed the momentum of the game.
The Beavers seemed to have the puck for most of the second period, although they only came away with three shots to show for the possession. The Colonials almost cut the lead in half at the 9:55 mark when Nathan Longpre found himself all alone with the puck close in on net, but Dugas made the save on the Colonials’ best scoring chance to that point of the second.
With less than a minute left in the period, Longpre made a brilliant pass to Scott Kobialko, who skated just inside the blue line and let go a hard drive that beat Dugas just inside the crossbar with only 7.5 seconds remaining to make it a 2-1 Beavers’ lead going into the locker room.
At the onset, the third period had all the makings of a classic ending. It became much more exciting when Colonials’ freshman Zach Hervato took a nifty pass from the left circle and skated in on Dugas, using a brilliant move en route to scoring his fifth goal of the season at 8:54 of the third to even the score at two.
The game then tilted in the direction of Bemidji State with two key goals. The first came at 8:54 when Ryan Cramer let loose a perfect backhander from between the circles to give the Beavers the lead back. The second came at 10:57 on a power play when Jaime MaQueen found a loose puck which he buried behind Ostergard to get his team’s two goal lead back.
The Colonials sprang back to life with one good scoring chance after another, but Dugas stood tall and made some key saves down the stretch to slam the door on any comeback attempt. Lehrke, the game’s No. 1 star, fittingly put the contest away with an empty-netter at 18:43, giving the Beavers a hard fought two conference points on the road.
“I liked how we competed tonight,” said Beavers’ coach Tom Serratore. “It helped to get that first goal tonight; this is a tough place to play and we’ve struggled in this barn in the past. I’m glad we came out of here with the split.”
On Lehrke’s performance, Serratore added, “Every year, we have seniors step up and he’s been outstanding for us. He’s very reliable and plays in all situations, he’s a coaches dream.”
The Beavers host Niagara next weekend, while the Colonials are scheduled to travel to Alabama-Huntsville for a two game set with the Chargers.