Playoff chances aside, this was just a crazy UAH-Bemidji State game. The Chargers and Beavers battled to a frantic finish in a 1-1 tie in Bemidji, Minn. on Friday night.
UAH (6-19-6 overall, 4-15-6 WCHA) survived a third-period dominated by the Beavers, but missed on a power play and penalty shot in overtime.
That makes it somewhat of a missed opportunity for the Chargers, who really need wins at this point for any shot at the WCHA playoffs. UAH is four points behind the eighth and final playoff spot held by Alaska Anchorage, which lost to Minnesota State 3-0. The Chargers did get help when ninth-place Alaska lost at Michigan Tech 6-5.
Meanwhile, Bemidji State (14-13-6 overall, 9-11-5 WCHA) clinched a spot in the WCHA postseason.
UAH’s star was Matt Larose, who made 36 saves in all sorts of ways. Bemidji State outshot the Chargers 37-23.
No scoring in the first, but it was physical. Despite the chippiness, no penalties were called until UAH captain Brent Fletcher and BSU’s Corey Ward were called for roughing after an entanglement at the end of the period.
Larose stood strong, making 11 saves in the period. Three came on a sequence in the middle of the period where each of Bemidji State’s Fitzgerald triplets — Leo, Myles, and Gerry — had a shot saved from close range.
BSU’s other best scoring chance of the first period came with about five minutes left. Larose made a save on Leo Fitzgerald and went down after the rebound. The Beavers attempted about three more shots as the rest of the Chargers, including defensemen Cody Champagne and Brandon Carlson guarding the crease, stood into keep the game scoreless.
UAH’s best chance to score was just before that, when BSU goalie Michael Bitzer misplayed the puck and was out of position. But Bitzer scrambled back to the crease in time to stop Tyler Poulsen‘s shot from the slot for one of his 21 saves on the night.
The physicality continued in the second, but this time, penalties were called. Each team was called for three minors.
UAH had four power plays (although two were 10 seconds or fewer), and broke through on the fourth power play with 2:21 left in the second. Jetlan Houcher‘s shot from the right circle led to a rebound to Madison Dunn, who snuck the puck under Bitzer and crossed the goal line just long enough for the referee to call it a goal.
It was Dunn’s third goal of the season, assisted by Houcher (his fifth assist) and Poulsen (his third).
The Chargers were solid killing Bemidji State’s two power plays of the period.
Bemidji State took control in the third period, and the Beavers continued to buzz after Cory Ward tied the game at 1-1 with 12:26 remaining. An odd bounce went to Brendan Harms, who centered the pass to an all-alone Ward, and Larose could not stop it.
But Larose did make some amazing stops the remainder of regulation. With 2:54 to go, he gloved John Parker’s attempt on his breakaway. He then denied Ward on a 2-on-1 with 14 seconds remaining.
That led to overtime, where each team had their chances to win the game, but not as big as the Chargers. BSU’s Dan Billet slashed Matt Salhany‘s stick out of his hand on a breakaway, but a power play was called instead of a penalty shot with 4:12 left.
UAH could not score on the power play, as BSU actually pinned the Chargers back for a significant time. After it expired, Salhany had another breakaway, but this time a penalty shot was called as Graeme McCormack took him down with 1:49 to go.
Salhany missed on the penalty shot, and they played on. Larose came up big twice, stopping Harms and Billet as UAH continued to scramble in the defensive zone in the final minute.
Game two of the series is 7:07 p.m. Saturday night.
Notes: This was UAH’s sixth tie of the season, setting a program record. … UAH has now failed to score on its last six penalty shots, three of which occurred in the past two months. The last successful penalty shot came in 2006. … Salhany also missed on a penalty shot against Northern Michigan last season. … The Chargers ended a five-game losing streak against Bemidji State.