This Week in the CHA: Feb. 28, 2008

Bemidji State traveled to North Dakota last weekend looking to end a horrid losing streak against the Sioux and nearly did.

Though BSU came away with two defeats against the second-ranked team in the country, it could easily have been a split.

In the finale on Sunday afternoon, Bemidji State nearly pulled it out, but the Sioux escaped to run their unbeaten streak to 13 games.

The Beavers had North Dakota on the ropes for 55 minutes Sunday, but an Andrew Kozek goal late in the third was all it would take as the Beavers dropped the game, 1-0.

“It’s just too bad we couldn’t get a point,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “We tried. We did everything we could and, of course, their best player (T.J. Oshie, who assisted on the Kozek goal) makes a great play and that’s what happens. He is just a heck of a hockey player. He made that play behind the net with people draped all over him. I think he put it off the back of the net and it came off to himself and he threw the puck to Kozek coming in on the high slot. It was just a heck of a play.

“I thought it was a very good hockey game. I wish we would have had it, but it was also a nice story for the Walski kid (North Dakota goalie Aaron Walski). I thought he made some nice saves. It was good entertainment for a Sunday afternoon.”

Walski, a junior, made 13 saves in his first career start, ending Jean-Philippe Lamoureux’s nation-best string of 55 consecutive starts.

Orlando Alamano stopped 31 shots for Bemidji State.

Saturday night, North Dakota netted four power-play goals in a 5-1 win.

“Coming in against a team like this in this building, obviously going down 5-on-3 and then having to come back and kill off four more minutes can really deflate and demoralize a team, there is no question,” Serratore said. “It was tough from the get go. It reminded me of when we first began playing at the Division I level. We just didn’t have intensity in our game and that’s not Beaver hockey.”

“The power-play goals were the difference,” North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol said. “Our power play was very sharp tonight. Along with that, in the first two periods, I thought we did a very nice job 5-on-5 against a very good team.”

BSU would, however, claim a power-play goal of its own in the second period. Travis Winter found Riley Weselowski with a pass from behind the net and the blue liner banked a slapshot from the right faceoff dot off the left pipe and into the back of the net.

The Fighting Sioux went 4-for-10 on the man-advantage, while BSU was 1-for-5.

Matt Climie recorded 36 saves for the Beavers.

The victories extended UND’s handle on the all-time series versus BSU to 15-1-1. North Dakota is unbeaten versus the Beavers since the 1969-70 season — a streak spanning 15 games.

Bemidji State hosts Wayne State this weekend and a sweep of the Warriors would give BSU its third CHA regular-season crown in four years. If BSU takes three of four points, it will clinch at least a tie for the CHA title, but will be the top seed due to the tiebreakers. If the Warriors take two or more points, then Niagara and Robert Morris have a shot at the title and the No. 1 seed.

Niagara’s Unbeaten Streak Ends At UAH

Niagara went down to Huntsville looking to make its eight-game unbeaten streak a 10-gamer, but had to settle for a split with the Chargers and the end of their streak at nine games (6-0-3), the second-longest undefeated streak in the country at the time.

The No. 20 Purple Eagles and goaltender Juliano Pagliero blanked UAH, 3-0, on Friday for their fourth shutout of the season.

NU co-captain Vince Rocco, Paul Zanette and Chris Moran scored to back Pagliero’s 30 saves, including a breakaway on Joey Koudys with Niagara up 1-0 late in the second period.

“Paul Zanette’s goal was the big momentum change in the game,” said Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder. “We had a lot of guys play very well. In particular, Juliano was very solid when (Alabama-Huntsville) sustained pressure at different times early in the game.”

UAH goaltender Blake MacNicol made 31 saves.

“Blake played well,” Alabama-Huntsville head coach Danton Cole said in the Huntsville Times. “He kept us in the game. (Niagara is) a good team.”

Saturday, the Chargers honored seniors Tyler Hilbert and Matt Montes before the game and then went out and earned a come-from-behind 4-3 win.

Matt Caruana and Bryan Haczyk gave NU a 2-0 lead early in the second period, only to have Brennan Barker beat Pagliero at 7:09 of the second period.

UAH went on to tie the contest just over four minutes later when Hilbert won a draw and fed the puck back to Joey Koudys, who found Tom Train. He went stick-side on Pagliero.

Ryan Annesley made it 3-2 Niagara early in the third period.

Koudys then beat Pagliero to tie the game at 13:08 and with less than four minutes remaining, the Chargers found themselves with a faceoff in the Niagara end and the Purple Eagles won the draw. An NU defenseman tried to wrap the puck around the boards and out of the zone, but Barker trapped the puck on the boards just inside the blueline and fired a wrister on net that eluded Pagliero.

“This was a tough result,” said Burkholder. “We had to spend so much energy killing penalties (that) we just didn’t have enough to finish them off.”

MacNicol had a 33-save effort in the win, while Pagliero made 30 stops in the loss.

Robert Morris Downed By Team USA

Robert Morris hosted the U.S. National Under-18 Team last Saturday night, but was defeated by the Americans, 5-2, in an exhibition game.

David Boguslawski scored both goals for RMU. His first one tied the game at one apiece.

Wes Russell played the first 40 minutes for the Colonials and allowed four goals on 20 shots. Jim Patterson stopped 10 shots in the third period.

“We played a thorough, consistent game tonight,” said Team USA head coach John Hynes. “Our effort was strong and we stayed committed to our game plan.”

Vinny Saponari (Boston University) and Jordan Schroder (Minnesota) each scored twice for Team USA. David Wohlberg (Michigan) also scored in the win and Joe Cannata (Merrimack) made 17 saves.

UAH, BSU Get Recruits From BCHL, NAHL

The future of the CHA remains a mystery, yet recruits still keep coming in as two Burnaby Express players gave their nods to CHA schools this week.

Forward Cody Campbell will trek down to Alabama-Huntsville and defenseman Brad Hunt is off to Bemidji State.

The Beavers also got a commitment from Fairbanks Ice Dogs’ defenseman Matt Carlson from the North American Hockey League.

Campbell, a smallish (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) 21-year-old right wing, has 32 goals (18 on the power play) and 85 points in 59 games this year in the British Columbia Hockey League. He had just 28 points all of last season in 40 games.

The Chargers have always had success getting western Canadian players to come to Huntsville and Campbell looks to continue the trend.

Hunt, 19, has tallied 16 goals and 55 points this season for the Express and was the team’s leading point-getter among blueliners. Hunt is also the second-leading defenseman scorer in the entire BCHL.

In Carlson, BSU is getting a 6-foot-5, 215-pounder that has 22 points in 44 games with 63 penalty minutes and a plus-9 rating this season. He turns 21 at the end of May.

Bothwell Set To Transfer From WSU

Another week and another Wayne State player has reportedly made a commitment to transfer to a new school.

WSU sophomore goalie Brett Bothwell will join Union College next season, where he will be a junior and be eligible to play for the Dutchmen immediately.

Bothwell took the No. 1 job last season from then-senior Will Hooper. This season, he’s in a three-goalie mix with freshmen Mike Devoney and Kyle Funkenhauser, but is still 4-4-0 in his last eight starts and 6-11-0 overall.

Five of Bothwell’s wins have come in CHA play and the other was against St. Lawrence, where Wayne State sophomore defenseman Jeff Caister will land this fall.

Bemidji Events Center Moving Forward?

It keeps looking up for the Beavers.

A Minnesota State Senate committee approved a $1 billion public works bonding bill Tuesday that includes funding for three Division I hockey arenas and one D-III rink. The most notable in CHA circles is a $22 million approval for the proposed Bemidji Regional Events Center.

Of course, this all still requires final stamp of approval from the legislature and Gov. Tim Pawlenty which hopefully is a mere formality.

Also approved was $40 million in funding for the renovation and expansion of the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center that would add approximately 1,200 seats. The National Hockey Center in St. Cloud will get $10 million to remodel and expand and $10 million was granted to fund a new rink for the Division III Minnesota-Crookston squad.

Wayne State Memories Continue

Here are some from the Warriors’ days on Michigan’s East Side.

The end of the 2001-2002 season saw Wayne State close out the regular season with 9-0-1 run (all CHA games). Only four of those games were at home (then the Great Lakes Sports City in Fraser), but the excitement and atmosphere was near-electric.

WSU went on to beat Niagara at Alabama-Huntsville in the CHA tournament at Niagara for its second of three playoff championships.

The arena in Fraser also had its share of unique commodities. Take for instance the muffled intercom system that would, without fail, blare out alerts to find missing kids in the five-rink facility into the rink where WSU played during the game.

During one game some years back, Warriors’ defenseman Marc St. Jean leveled teeny 5-foot-7, 160-pound Bemidji State defenseman Says Phrakonkham (say that name five times fast) into the boards in front of the scorer’s table in the penalty box. The glass popped loose and landed on public address announcer Tom Balog and several off-ice officials.