March 16, 2008
College Hockey America Tournament Final
Purple Reign

Niagara 3, Bemidji State 2,
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
1-BS Brandon Marino (9) PP
2:55 T. Winter, C. Peluso
1-NIA Ted Cook (19) PP
10:19 K. Rogers, M. Caruana

Second Period

2-BS Tyler Lehrke (2) EV
12:33 M. Francis
2-NIA Chris Moran (8) EV
16:28 S. Langton
3-NIA Kyle Rogers (10) PP
19:15 V. Rocco, T. Cook
Third Period
No scoring
NIA: Juliano Pagliero (60:00, 27 svs, 2 GA)
BS: Matt Climie (58:55, 22 svs, 3 GA)
Penalties: NIA 5/10; BS 5/10
Power Plays: NIA 2-4; BS 1-3
All-Tournament Team
G: Juliano Pagliero, Niagara
D: Cody Bostock, Bemidji State
D: Dan Sullivan, Niagara
F: Chris Margott, Robert Morris
F: Tyler Scofield, Bemidji State
F: Kyle Rogers, Niagara
MVP: Ted Cook, Niagara

By Warren Kozireski

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — Previously, Niagara, Wayne State, and Alabama-Huntsville (twice) and all hosted the College Hockey America playoffs on their home ice and failed to capitalize on the advantage.

Niagara, which has lost just two home games in two seasons, ended that streak, skating away with a 3-2 victory over Bemidji State Sunday at Dwyer Arena to earn the league's playoff championship and advance to the NCAA tournament.

Bemidji State struck first just 1:51 into the contest on its only power play opportunity of the opening period. Brandon Marino knocked in a rebound off a point shot that was tipped by teammate Travis Winter and initially stopped by Niagara goaltender Juliano Pagliero

The Purple Eagles drew even just 37 seconds into their second man advantage. Ted Cook scored a goal in his sixth consecutive game, tipping in Kyle Rogers shot from the left point at 10:19 of the first.

BSU regained the lead 12:33 into the second period when Tyler Lehrke rifled a shot to Pagliero's short side, slipping the puck just under the Niagara goalie's blocker after taking a pass from Matt Francis. Less than four minutes later, Niagara tied the game at 2-2 on a goal from Chris Moran that caromed off someone or something in front of the net, then dribbled past Beaver goaltender Matt Climie and across the goal line.

In the final minute of the period, just 10 seconds after BSU's Kyle Hardwick was called for interference, Niagara won an offensive zone draw and Kyle Rogers blasted a shot from the right point with Vince Rocco and Ted Cook assisting to give the Purps their first lead of the game.

“We practice just getting pucks to the net all the time and all five of us did our job there,” said Rogers. “Matty [Caruana] won the draw back, we passed around a little bit, and [Vince] Rocco found me high slot.”

There was no scoring in the third period, but that didn’t mean it lacked for drama.

With Niagara playing a conservative style and Bemidji State unable to generate many scoring chances, the Beavers finally got a break with 6:55 remaining when the Purple Eagles' Travis Anderson was whistled for interference. Twenty-nine seconds later, teammate Brian Haczyk took a minor penalty, setting up a Beaver 5-on-3 advantage for 1:31.

BSU was only able to generate two shots on goal during the power play, and right as the second penalty was about to expire, Niagara’s Cook took off on a breakaway and apparently scored. The red light was turned on, but after a video review, the goal was disallowed.

“It was a goal,” said Cook. “I don’t know what the ref was thinking and I don’t know what CSTV was thinking, but it was in. They didn’t call it, but we needed to get it back together and finish the last four minutes and we came out of it.

“We had so much momentum off that 5-on-3 [kill]. The place was going nuts, we were getting pucks out, and [Ryan] Annesley wins a faceoff. I’ve never seen a defenseman win a faceoff in my life and it was like somebody sent a bolt of energy through every guy on our bench. That was the game; there is no doubt in my mind.”

“We are a relatively young team with only three seniors and they seemed unfazed [by the 5-on-3 power play], but I was an absolute mess,” said Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder. “I think it was just meant to be. We just felt it was going to happen for us — we felt that way all year.”

The Beavers pulled Climie for an extra attacker with one minute left in regulation, but Niagara was able to hold them off for the win and its third CHA championship.

“We didn’t convert, and we didn’t generate much offense [on the 5-on-3],” said Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore. “That was a kick in the teeth, but our guys showed resiliency and fought to the end and that’s all you can ask. We played good; I just don’t think we played good enough to win.”

“We talked about from our opening meeting on the first day of classes and all year long being a championship team,” said Burkholder. “Our team motto this year is “One Team … One Chance … One Heartbeat” and all year we told them to dream about what it will feel like on Sunday at 4:30 celebrating on our home ice. You are what you dream, I guess.”


• The Beavers began the first period outshooting the Purple Eagles, 7-1, over the first nine-plus minutes, but were credited with just one more shot on goal the remainder of the stanza.

• Each finalist had just one line-up change from the semi-final line charts. Bemidji State dressed freshman defenseman Dan MacIntyre in place of David Deterding, who earned a game disqualification in Saturday's win against Wayne State. Niagara dressed senior forward Taylor Simpson at fourth-line left wing in place of Armando Scarlato.

• One Niagara female fan showed up at the afternoon title game with her hair died purple.

• Additional NHL scouts seen during the weekend included Andy Moog of Dallas and Dave McNab, Anaheim assistant general manager and Friend of INCH

• They’re new at this: During the first television timeout, the assistant referee dropped the puck for a faceoff in the Bemidji State defensive zone before the red light was switched off to signal the end of the commercial. The reaction of the TV production crew cannot be reported on a family-oriented website.

• The staff at Niagara University did a wonderful job as hosts of the 2008 CHA tournament, drawing great crowds for all four games and attending to many small details, but the two-mile trip around potholes and asphalt patching on Route 104 makes wooden roller coasters seem like a kiddie ride.

Warren Kozireski can be reached at