March 15, 2008
College Hockey America Tournament Semifinals
A Season Continues, An Existence Ends

Bemidji State 4,
Wayne State 1
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
1-BS Matt Pope (14) PP
4:00 C. Peluso, G. McManamin
2-BS Cody Bostock (7) PP
16:26 M. Read, T. Scofield

Second Period

3-BS Matt Read (9) EV
5:19 T. Scofield, T. Winter
1-WS Chris Kushneriuk (3) PP
12:13 R. Bernardi, J. Caister
Third Period
4-BS Tyler Scofield (13) EN
19:28 C. Bostock, T. Winter
WS: Brett Bothwell (59:50, 26 svs, 3 GA)
BS: Matt Climie (59:55, 10 svs, 1 GA)
Penalties: WS 12/24; BS 9/29
Power Plays: WS 1-9; BS 3-12

By Warren Kozireski

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — One team is moving on to the College Hockey America title game Sunday afternoon, and the other is gone…forever.

Bemidji State jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of power-play goals in the first period, made it 3-0 before Wayne State could get on the scoreboard, and skated to a 4-1 penalty-filled victory to advance to their fifth championship game in the last six years and end the nine-year Division I hockey program at the Detroit school.

Matt Pope began the scoring with a tip-in goal off of Chris Peluso's slapper from the left point to put the Beavers up 1-0 just 4:00 minutes into what became a penalty-filled contest.

Cody Bostock made it 2-0 Beavers with another power play marker at 16:26 from Matt Read and Tyler Scofield.

The first period ended with Bemidji holding an 8-3 shots advantage and with a combined seven minors called. Plus the Beavers blocked nine shots.

"Our defense did a great job of fronting and blocking shots and made my job a lot easier," Bemidji State senior goaltender Matt Climie said. "It was one of those games that was tough to stay in there (mentally) when I wasn't getting a lot of shots, but we did a lot of the little things right. We just found a way to win today and that's all that really matters."

Eight majors and one major with a game disqualification to Bemidji State senior defenseman Dave Deterding meant more time for both special teams units in the second period.

The Beavers took a 3-0 lead 5:19 into the second when CHA Rookie of the Year Matt Read tapped the puck into an open net with an assist from Travis Winter.

But Wayne State fought back with an extra-attacker goal of their own. At 12: 13 freshman Chris Kushneriuk deflected a shot from defenseman Ryan Bernardi into the net to close the gap at the end of two periods.

The only offense of the third period came on an empty-net goal by Tyler Scofield with 32 seconds remaining to close out the 4-1 victory.

In total there were 21 penalties called for a combined 53 minutes during the contest.

"This was a really odd game," said Bemidji head coach Tom Serratore. "When you're playing 40 minutes of special teams hockey, you can't establish any flow for both teams which I think is difficult.

"It wasn't easy for Wayne State to play a 4-5 game last night and bounce back 15 hours later and have to play again. I thought we played desperation hockey early from the standpoint of making sure that shots we not going to get through. They have a nice power play that we've had trouble with all year and I think that (the blocked shots) really helped. This game could have swung either way many different times."

For Wayne State, the loss closes the final chapter on their nine-year program.

"It's bad for hockey and I feel bad for the kids and for Bill Wilkinson and his staff," said Serratore. "He coached the right way and his kids played the right way. Our hockey fraternity is not that big and when you see a program like that play their last game, I can tell you I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes thinking about that."

"That group downstairs is the last of the Mohicans," said Wayne state head coach Bill Wilkinson. "I'm pretty proud of that team the way they handled the whole year and the way they handled the adversity today. We were pretty out-gunned and we were always behind the eight ball especially going down 2-0 early.

"It's hard to fathom that this was the last game that the Warriors will play. They were a first class bunch of kids who represented Wayne State extremely well on the ice and in the classroom as well. (After the empty netter) I put five freshmen and Bothwell on the ice and hopefully that was a sign that these kids had a terrific year and those freshmen have an opportunity to go somewhere else and play.

"It's not the end of their careers, but certainly the end of the Warriors."

Niagara 6,
Robert Morris 3
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
1-RM Chris Margott (16) EV
16:57 D. Cowan

Second Period

1-N David Ross (6) EV
5:36 D. Sullivan, P. Zanette
2-RM Chris Margott (17) EV
16:59 C. Kaufman, A. Bonello
2-N Dan Sullivan (4) EV
14:22 V. Rocco, M. Caruana
Third Period
3-N Ted Cook (18) EV
1:21 C. Moran, B. Haczyk
3-RM Chris Margott (18) PP
7:39 N. Longpre, R. Cruthers
4-N Egor Mironov (14) PP
10:29 P. Zanette, C. Moran
5-N Egor Mironov (15) EV
12:44 P. Zanette, D. Ross
6-N Matt Caruana (16) EN
19:02 V. Rocco, S. Langdon
RM: Christian Boucher (58:35, 22 svs, 5 GA)
N: Brett Bothwell (59:56, 34 svs, 3 GA)
Penalties: RM 8/16; N 5/10
Power Plays: RM 1-4; N 1-7


The host Purple Eagles exploded for four third-period goals, including two with the man-advantage, to defeat Robert Morris 6-3 and earn a spot in the College Hockey America title game Sunday afternoon.

After the first two shifts of the game, Robert Morris found their game out-shooting the Purple Eagles 12-6 in the period and took a 1-0 lead on Chris Margott's 16th goal of the season at 16:57.

Niagara tied the game at 1-1 early in the second period when freshman David Ross tipped Dan Sullivan's point blast past goaltender Christian Boucher at 5:36.

The Colonials again took a 2-1 lead at 16:59 when Margott got his second of the game with a wrist shot after passes from Chris Kaufman and Andrew Bonello.

But just 43 seconds later, Niagara's sophomore defenseman Sullivan snuck into the slot, took a pass from Vince Rocco and roofed his shot to again tie the game 2-2.

"I just saw an opening and I didn't realize how much time I had," said Sullivan. "There were so many things going through my head at once so I just shot the puck and good things happened. In practice I had been getting my backhands off right away, but I just decided to go to my forehand there."

Just 1:21 into the third period, Ted Cook scored for the fifth consecutive game to give the Purps a 3-2 lead, but Margott completed his hat trick at 7:39 to again tie the game for the Colonials.

The key turning point came halfway through the final period. CHA Player of the Year Ryan Cruthers was stopped point blank with a side-to-side save from Niagara goaltender Juliano Pagliero with 8:02 left in the game.

Two minutes later, Egor Mironov put a weak shot from the point through the legs of goaltender Christian Boucher for what would prove to be the game- winner two minutes later.

"Sometimes when you shoot the puck on net, good things happen and I got a screen from their defenseman and it went right through," said Mironov.

A little over two minutes later Mironov was the recipient of some great corner work from linemates Paul Zanette and David Ross and scored his second of the night at 12:44. An empty-netter from captain Matt Caruana sealed the game in the final minute.

"We knew we were playing well and we had a positive attitude," said Mironov. "It came down to momentum and we had it in the third period. The last couple of games every single one of us is contributing. The game is about mistakes and momentum so any chance we have to get the momentum back; the guys are shutting down their lines. On the last goal I was just there to receive the present right on the doorstep."

"It was a very good hockey game back and forth with the second place and third place teams punching each other and they got the better punches," said Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley. "We out-shot them every period, but the scary thing is that we out-shot and outplayed them in the first period and only led 1-0."

The Purple Eagles advance to face top-seed Bemidji State in the finals. It will be the third title game meeting between the two with Niagara winning in overtime in 2004 and the Beavers taking a 4-2 victory in Detroit two seasons ago.

"It's nice to be back and play for a championship at home and Bemidji from start to finish was the best team in the CHA," said Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder. "For us to have a crack at it is why our guys showed up the first day of classes and punched the time clock and nothing but blood, sweat and tears ever since. I'm pretty proud of them.

"They (Bemidji) have a four or five hour head start on getting ready, but it's all emotion. It's playing for an NCAA bid, it's national television, it's all of those things so I would think we will be fine as will they."

Robert Morris had 12 seniors in the line-up as they complete the final phase of their startup as a Division I program four years ago and will need to re-load for next season. Several transfers, including three — with two defensemen — from now-defunct Wayne State will help that transition.

"We feel the transfers coming in will help and we hope we have a good freshman class, but we also have a lot returning in Chris Margott, Jason Towsley, Nathan Longpre, Denny Urban and Kyle Burton and Brandon Gay played significant minutes. Our cupboard isn't bare, but we have some work ahead of us."


• In an interview with CHA Commissioner R.H. Peters about the status of the league, he said, "We've been working at this for more than a couple of years as we lost Findlay and Air Force. We've talked with club teams and we've talked with another conference about possible assimilation. The first discussion on that didn't produce any results, so we may be looking at that again. If that doesn't materialize, we may have to decide what course we will take: stay together or go independent. Our first choice would be assimilation with the CHA in place and the AQ in place. I'm sure we will talk in Denver (for the Frozen Four) and in Florida (coaches and league meetings the week of April 21). Coming out of Florida I'm sure we will have an answer."

• One obvious Wayne State fan walked into the afternoon game with a stuffed-animal beaver hanging in effigy from a stick.

• Multiple scouts were in attendance including Rick Dudley of the Chicago Blackhawks and Glenn Patrick form Pittsburgh.

• Time for referee shields? For the second game in a row during the tourney, there was a short stoppage due to a referee getting clipped in the face and needing attention.

• Robert Morris' Chris Margott registered the fourth hat trick in Colonial history and the second of his career. The other two were from Brett Hopfe and Kurt Wright.

• The Beavers will be without senior defenseman and captain David Deterding for Sunday's title game. He was called for a five minute major for hitting from behind and a game disqualification midway through the second period. "Our best defensive defenseman is out tomorrow and we need to show a little resiliency," said Serratore. Look for freshman Dan MacIntyre to be his replacement. He played 10 games during the regular season.

• Bemidji State head coach Serratore had extra-long conversations with Wayne State seniors Stavros Paskaris and Tyler Michel during the post game handshake. "I just let them know that I had respect for them and their program. They are good people, I like how they play the game and I just them know that."

• Bemidji State is 2-2 all-time in CHA title games with victories over Alabama-Huntsville in 2005 in Grand Rapids and over Niagara in 2006 in Detroit.

• Niagara is now 24-2-5 on home ice over the last two seasons, but one of those two losses was to Bemidji State this season.

• Beavers defenseman Cody Bostock has scored seven goals this season and four of them have been game-winners, including his tally on Saturday.

• The last man to leave the ice for Wayne State was senior forward Stavros Paskaris.

Warren Kozireski can be reached at