Goal Gives Niagara CHA Title
4, Bemidji State 3 OT
Clarke, D. Hominuk
Karru, P. Oliveto
Sirianni, J. Haider
Miller, R. Sirianni
Bentivoglio, A. Lackner
Chiodo, R. Riddell
Jeff VanNynatten, 73:27, 31 saves, 3 GA
Grady Hunt, 73:27, 33 saves, 4 GA
NIA 4/8; BSU 5/21
Plays: NIA 1-5; BSU 0-4
It took a
bit longer than expected for the first NCAA Tournament bid of
the season to be decided, but thanks to Joe Tallari's goal 13:27
into overtime, Niagara claimed it with a 4-3 victory over Bemidji
State in the CHA Tournament championship game.
is Niagara's second in the five-year history of the conference.
While the Purple Eagles earned their first automatic bid to the
NCAAs, they will be making their second appearance; in 2000, Niagara
earned an at-large bid.
overtime goal came from the slot after a centering pass from Barret
Ehgoetz from behind the net. Tallari chipped it into the air and
it fluttered over Bemidji State goaltender Grady Hunt and in the
a dramatic finish to regulation that saw three goals scored in
the last 5:14, including two within a 14-second span. Bemidji
State, the regular-season champion, erased a pair of one-goal
deficits in the third period.
were unable to dent Purple Eagle goaltender Jeff VanNynatten
for the first 47:07 of play. Four years ago, spectacular goaltending
from Greg Gardner led an upstart Niagara team to a remarkable
upset of New Hampshire in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Now, with VanNynatten, this Purple Eagles team seems to have
a similar strength between the pipes.
scored Bemidji's first goal, cutting into a Niagara leaad that
was built on rebound goals by Chris Welch and Ryan Gale earlier
in the second.
INCH's Three Stars of the Night
Jean-Guy Gervais, Bemidji State
a terrific all-around game, highlighted by the deft stickwork
as he batted a rebound out of midair for a goal.
Joe Tallari, Niagara
The Purple Eagles' big gun a year ago, he was quieter
this year – but scored the team's biggest goal of
Jeff VanNynatten, Niagara
Grady Hunt actually finished with more saves, but
VanNynatten faced the tougher opportunities throughout the
tied the score with just over five minutes remaining in regulation,
swatting a Ryan Miller rebound past VanNynatten.
later, just two seconds after a Bemidji State bench minor had
expired, Niagara regained the lead. With the Beavers outnumbered
down low, Sean Bentovoglio kicked the puck to Aaron Clarke in
front, who beat Grady Hunt for a 3-2 lead.
later, off a faceoff in the Niagara zone, Bemidji State struck
back. The Beavers battled for the faceoff and got the puck back
to John Haider at the point. Haider, who had a hat trick in the
semifinal win over Findlay, fired a slapshot past VanNynatten
to tie the score.
That set the
stage for overtime, and what became the longest game in CHA Tournament
history. The Purple Eagles, who improve to 21-14-3 overall, held
an 8-6 shot advantage in the extra session.
the NCAA Selection Show, next Sunday at 2:30 p.m., to find out
the site and opponent for their return trip to the NCAA Tournament.