Bemidji State controlled the game almost from the start, beating the Chargers 5-1 at the Von Braun Center and getting a series split.
UAH (9-17-2 overall, 8-12-2 WCHA) honored the 1998 NCAA Division II national champions during the first intermission, but unlike Friday’s 5-1 Charger win, this game didn’t resemble those good times.
UAH dropped to seventh place in the WCHA standings with the loss and Ferris State’s win, while Bemidji State (14-8-6 overall, 11-5-4 WCHA), in fourth place, clinched a spot in the WCHA playoffs.
The Chargers managed only 12 shots on goal to the Beavers’ 36 in the 86th meeting between the rivals. And they were in a hole just 33 seconds in.
Brennan Saulnier checked Myles Fitzgerald into the boards chasing the puck. Saulnier was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct, the ninth of his UAH career. For refusing to leave the ice, Saulnier was called for abuse of officials, for a total of 25 penalty minutes. The incident will likely be reviewed by the WCHA, which could hand down his fourth career suspension.
After that, the Beavers were relentless. Charlie Combs scored during the major power play to give BSU a 1-0 lead.
UAH had a chance to equalize with 6:10 left in the 1st, when Dillon Eichstadt also got a five-minute checking from behind penalty and a game misconduct for running Josh Kestner.
But Kestner, who leads the WCHA in goals with 17, had to be escorted to the locker room, and without him and Saulnier, UAH could not set up anything on their major power play.
If it weren’t for goaltender Jordan Uhelski, the Chargers could have found themselves in much deeper trouble. But the senior made 15 saves in the period to keep it 1-0 at intermission.
Kestner did return to action in the second period, and UAH did have a few more scoring opportunities (six shots on goal) and a more cohesive power play.
The Chargers still had to weather the storm of two shorthanded situations and a late flurry in the second period, but still found themselves down only a goal heading into the third.
That would be short-lived as BSU put up three unanswered goals in the third. Justin Baudry scored twice, at 7:05 and 12:19, sandwiching a power play goal by Aaron Miller and the Beavers led 4-0.
The Chargers didn’t get their first shot on goal of the third period until it was nine minutes remaining.
UAH averted a shutout for BSU’s All-American goaltender Michael Bitzer with 6:57 to go, as Max McHugh got his first goal of the season, deflecting a Cam Knight shot. It was McHugh’s second game of the season, coming back from a preseason injury.
T.J. Roo added an empty-net goal with 1:22 remaining.
Uhelski finished with 31 saves, adding to the 30 he had on Friday. Bitzer had 11 saves.
Notes: Saulnier has 325 career penalty minutes, moving him into fifth-most in UAH history. He now has 15 penalties counted as 10 minutes: Five misconducts, nine game misconducts, and one game disqualification.