Bemidji State overcame the Chargers coming out of their power-play slump, rallying in the third period to defeat UAH 4-3 at the Von Braun Center on Friday to complete a series sweep.
The Chargers (1-18-3 overall, 1-12-3-1 WCHA) had a prime opportunity to get back into the win column thanks in part to three power-play goals, two by freshman Josh Latta.
Bemidji State’s Adam Brady scored the game-winner on a late power play, which came on a controversial boarding penalty called on UAH’s Bailey Newton with 5:24 left in the game.
UAH heads to Alaska Anchorage next weekend desperately needing points to get back into the WCHA playoff race. The Chargers are in 10th, six points behind UAA and seven behind Ferris State.
“It’s the same old song, and I hate saying it over and over and I want better for our players, but I liked our effort and I think we deserved something better,” UAH head coach Mike Corbett said.
Bemidji State (12-7-3, 12-3-1-0) struck first with 3:26 left in the first period. Sam Solensky, a freshman playing in just his fourth college game, scored on a one-timer in the slot following a centering pass from behind the net.
But UAH tied it up in the final seconds of the period after an Alex Ierullo cross-checking penalty for BSU. Latta poked the puck from underneath goaltender Zach Driscoll, who thought he was interferenced with, for his fifth goal of the season.
Austin Beaulieu and Dayne Finnson assisted on the goal, which ended a streak of 45 unsuccessful power plays. UAH had last scored with the advantage on November 9.
Bemidji State kept the Chargers in their own end for most of the second period, and really tested Mark Sinclair with bursts of shots on the junior.
The Beavers put 20 shots on goal in the frame, and Sinclair stopped all but one: a Charlie Combs deflection of a Tommy Muck centering pass with 39 seconds left to put Bemidji State up 2-1.
UAH had a critical chance about four mintues into the third period when Bemidji State’s Alex Adams elbowed Tyr Thompson high. Video review said contact to the head, ending Adams’s night.
The Chargers capitalized on the major power play with two goals to take the lead.
First, with 12:54 remaining, Austin Beaulieu put back Max Coyle’s shot to tie the game at 2-2. Dayne Finnson also assisted for his second of the game.
Second, about a minute later and two seconds left on the major power play, Latta notches his second goal of the night, putting in a centering pass from Bauer Neudecker on the right side to put the Chargers up 3-2.
“(Latta) is getting to the front of the net and scoring those goals,” Corbett said. “That’s what we need him to do, big goals in big times.”
“It’s all because of playing with (Rajic) and (Beaulieu),” Latta said. “I think we are all complementary of each other. The way we play, we each bring something a little bit unique. Raj is so good off the rush. Being able to pull up and create time and let plays develop. Beaulsy gets off the forecheck so well and he’s so good on the wall.
“We got three goals (on the power play), and being able to get two there (on the major power play) was a nice relief.”
With 9:43 remaining in regulation, the Beavers quickly tied it up as Nick Cardelli slipped the puck just inside the post on Sinclair’s right.
Then came Newton’s hit on Combs, which elicited a questionable boarding call. Combs looked to have hit the boards but not as a result of Newton’s hit.
The hit occurred against the wall and obstructed from the UAH bench. Corbett said he would have to take a look at it on video.
“It’s a tough play at the end,” Corbett. “You want big hits at that point in time of the game.”
UAH was shorthanded anyway, and it cost them.
Brady scored on a wicked shot from the left circle with 4:34 remaining to put BSU ahead 4-3.
The Chargers had one final press to tie the game, only able to pull Sinclair for the extra attacker with 17 seconds to go.
“(Christian) Rajic had the chance on the backdoor with the rebound, and they’re goalie came across and made the save,” Corbett said.
UAH finished with 32 shots on goal in the contest, tied for second most on the season.
“I thought we were better tonight than we were last night, especially just capitalizing on our chances,” Latta said. “I think we got over 30 shots tonight, which we haven’t done very often this season, which is encouraging.”
Sinclair finished with 36 saves as the Beavers finished with 40 shots on goal.
“(Sinclair) played well again,” Corbett said. “He’s another one of those guys you want better for, because he’s competing in the net and giving us a chance to win. We’ve got to pick him up one of these nights.”
“As good as Mark is, he’s good for us every night, sometimes they find a way to score because we give them too much time,” Latta said. “We’ve got to be better defensively and not have these five-minute lapses we tend to have.”