BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men’s hockey took a 2-1 lead into the third period Saturday night, Dec. 8, but Alabama Huntsville struck back for three goals to erase the deficit and split the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series with a 4-2 win at the Sanford Center.
Following a scoreless second period, the Chargers (2-14-0, 2-8-0-0 WCHA) came out swinging in the third.
Bauer Neudecker scored the game-tying early in the frame and Cam Knight delivered on the power play for the go-ahead goal less than a minute later en route to the win.
“(UAH) deserved what they got in the third period,” said BSU head coach Tom Serratore. “They played the type of game they needed to play and we never got into a rhythm.
“But at the end of the day, unacceptable. We had a 2-1 lead going into the third period at home and we end up losing the game. So that’s on us.”
It appeared early as though the Beavers (7-7-2, 5-4-1-0 WCHA) would prevail as they did in Friday’s 4-0 win.
Charlie Combs picked up where left off from his hat trick Friday, netting his fourth consecutive goal to start things off for BSU. The sophomore put the puck on his backhand and lifted it past goalie Jake Theut for the game’s opening goal.
Dillon Eichstadt buried a long shot from the point to score the Beavers’ second goal in a span of 1 minute, 5 seconds, making it 2-0 at the 8:09 mark of the opening period. The score came off a faceoff just three seconds into a 4-on-4 situation.
However, shortly after BSU killed its first penalty of the night, the Chargers tallied their first goal of the weekend.
Connor Wood banged in a rebound on his second chance to halve the Beavers’ lead at 12:15 of the first. The goal was the first of four unanswered strikes for UAH, though the teams first played through a scoreless second period lacking in chances.
“We weren’t efficient in our play the first 40 minutes, but we still had the lead,” Serratore said. “But it was hard. They defended hard, they relieved pressure any chance they could get.”
Only a moment after killing a penalty, the Chargers equalized on Neudecker’s goal at 3:56 of the third period.
The Beavers were penalized simultaneously with the goal, setting UAH up on a power play. Knight received a centering pass from beside the net and sniped in the eventual game-winning goal, just 38 seconds after the equalizer.
Alex Ierullo had a chance to level the score at 3-3, only for UAH to take a two-goal lead moments later. Connor Merkley collected a rebound in front and gave the Chargers the insurance goal with under seven minutes to play en route to the 4-2 victory.
The four goals were the most in a game this season for Alabama Huntsville.
Combs finished with a goal and an assists to lead the Beavers with two points.
Zach Driscoll made 13 saves in the loss as he moves to 3-3-1 on the season. Jake Theut stopped 21 shots to earn his first win of the year and improve to 1-5-0.
The Chargers finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while the Beavers went 0-for-4 on the advantage.
Bemidji State continues its four-game home stand to close the first half of the season next weekend with a home series against Alaska Anchorage, Dec. 14-15.
The Beavers will have a chance to collect more points before the holiday break, though they left some on the table Saturday.
“We had an opportunity tonight to get a little separation in the standings,” Serratore said, “and we didn’t do that.”Alabama Huntsville 4, Bemidji State 2