Two goals by Bemidji State sophomore defenseman Ruslan Pedan (Moscow), a second collegiate goal for freshman forward Kyle Bauman (Apopka, Fla.), and a second collegiate shutout for freshman goaltender Michael Bitzer (Moorhead, Minn.) were more than two too much for the UAH Chargers (5-16-3 overall, 4-12-0 WCHA), who fell by a second straight 4-0 to the homestanding Beavers (7-10-3, 5-6-3 WCHA).
@weloveuahhockey tomorrow knock em out
— Alabama Hockey (@AlabamaHockey) January 10, 2015
If only it had gone that way, y’all. If only.
Bauman got scoring started late in the first, putting a puck past Charger sophomore goaltender Matt Larose (Nanaimo, B.C.) at 18:19. Bauman’s goal was assisted by sophomore forward Charlie O’Connor (Elk Grove Village, Ill.) and junior defenseman Graeme McCormack (Thunder Bay, Ont.).
A last-minute checking-from-behind minor put UAH up on the power play, but neither rough ice in the first nor smooth to start the second elicited much of anything going toward Bitzer, who stopped all 24 shots that he faced.
Junior forward John Parker (Green Brook, N.J.) joined the deuces-wild parade for Bemidji in the second, absorbing a hit deep in his end, staying on the ice, finding the puck in front of the Charger bench, flashing some speed, and getting the puck to the top of the left-wing circle for a snap shot that beat Larose (29 sv) cleanly at 4:10.
Pedan would score the first of his pair at 13:31 of the second, taking a feed from freshman forward Gerry Fitzgerald (Port Alberni, B.C.) at the wall. Pedan skated into open ice, set himself, and fired one past Larose, who fell to 0-7-1 on the season with the loss. Parker also assisted on the goal.
Pedan would strike again with 5:11 left in regulation, ripping a shot on the point through traffic after feeds from junior forward Markus Gerbrandt (Edmonton, Alb.) and sophomore forward Nate Arentz (Lakeville, Minn.).
Bitzer’s shutout moves him to 5-5-1 on the year and opens the margin between the Beavers (13 pts) and UAH (8 pts) to five, a comfortable margin that should leave the Beavers looking at the #6 seed at worst and a shot at home ice.
If you’ve noticed that we haven’t talked about UAH very much on the night, it’s that there really isn’t much to talk about. You can look at the box and see that it was just a generally poor effort at the time of the year where those aren’t a luxury.
UAH had a long shot at making a run at home ice for the WCHA playoffs, but it started this weekend, where they needed a split at worst. Getting to 10 points would’ve given them some distance on Alaska-Anchorage and Lake Superior, and since the Seawolves have two games in hand, that distance would be critical. Instead, the Chargers are just two points clear of the pair and five behind their rivals.
Home ice took 30 points last year, and given that the points are spread more evenly, something like 26 should have done it this year, given that there’s a gulf between the Big Three (Mankato, BG, and Tech) and everyone else. Four points this weekend gets the Chargers to 12 points with twelve games to play, and a team with the confidence from sweeping Bemidji could say, “We’re riding Carmine.”
Instead, UAH has to keep its eyes glued to the rear view mirror to be sure that the teams behind them won’t pass them. More this coming week on the Chargers’ chances to make the playoffs and, better yet, avoiding the bottom two seeds.