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MEN'S HOCKEY: BSU beats Huntsville 3-1 to celebrate third-straight win

Bemidji State sophomore Adam Brady (27) celebrates his goal with junior T.J. Roo (7) in the first period against Alabama-Huntsville on Friday, Dec. 29, at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minn. (Jillian Gandsey | Forum News Service)1 / 2
Bemidji State sophomore Zach Whitecloud (32) fires a shot around Alabama-Huntsville's Tyler Poulsen (21) in their Friday, Dec. 29, game at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minn. (Jillian Gandsey | Forum News Service)2 / 2

BEMIDJI, Minn.—A dominant showing in the first two periods lifted the Bemidji State men's hockey team to a 3-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association win over Alabama Huntsville Friday night, Dec. 29, at the Sanford Center.

The Beavers (8-6-5, 5-4-2-2 WCHA) controlled the pace of play for the first 40 minutes but it was not until Adam Brady's empty-netter, his second goal of the night, that the game was put out of reach. The win is the third straight for BSU and increases its unbeaten run to six games.

"I really liked our play the first two periods," BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. "I just thought we had good speed, I thought we managed the puck well (and) I thought we obviously had a lot of scoring chances."

The Beavers, fresh off the holiday break, didn't appear to be too rusty. They recorded 64 shot attempts to 21 for the Chargers (6-13-2, 5-8-2-1 WCHA) through the first two periods, including 36-11 on target, though Serratore said the team needs to create more high-quality scoring opportunities.

"The biggest thing those first two periods was we had shot attempts, which was good, but a lot of them were in the breadbasket too," he said. "We (have to) do a little better job of creating second-chance opportunities for ourselves."

All the momentum was on the Beavers' side out of the gate.

Brady scooped up a loose puck beside the net and buried a shot from the doorstep at 6:04 of the first period to send BSU to locker room with a 1-0 lead.

"That first period I thought we controlled it," Brady said. "For a little bit I think we got away from our game, but at the end of the day, our goal was just to outwork them and things will happen for us."

Despite the onslaught of shots, Josh Kestner leveled the score with his power-play goal at 5:45 of the second period. Tyler Poulsen played the puck from circle to circle that Kestner one-timed from near the left dot.

The score remained at 1-all until late in the frame when Zach Whitecloud tallied the go-ahead goal.

The sophomore defenseman worked his way through UAH defenders and whipped home his first goal of the season to regain a 2-1 advantage with 4 minutes, 3 seconds left in the second.

"I kind of bobbled it when I got around that first guy but luckily enough it worked out and just beat the goalie over the left shoulder," Whitecloud said. "It wasn't just good for me but good for the team to get that go-ahead goal."

The final frame did not have quite the same pace as a third goal continued to elude the Beavers.

"(In) the third period it got dicey, it really did," Serratore said. "It was a game and they had better legs. They had a lot of pushback in the third period. They were just an eyelash from tying that thing up a couple times and that's what happens."

BSU hung on to the one-goal lead until Brady's empty-netter sealed the deal in the final minute.

Michael Bitzer stopped all but one of the 19 shots he faced while his UAH counterpart Jordan Uhelski made 39 saves on 42 BSU shots.

Bemidji State will look to extend its six-game unbeaten streak and become the second WCHA team to sweep UAH when the teams go at it again tonight at 7:07 in the series finale.

"The team who wins on Friday better watch out because the team who loses on Friday has got a lot of desperation, they've got a lot of pushback," Serratore said. "It's going to be another barnburner tomorrow night. There's no question about that."

Austin Monteith

Austin Monteith is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He is an Illinois native and a Butler University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @amonteith92.

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