There schedule shows 10 games left in the regular season but the postseason is already here the way Bemidji State men’s hockey coach Tom Serratore sees it.
“This time of year is the stretch run and we call it playoff hockey right now,” he said. “I think you have to get goaltending and you have to get special teams.”
The Beavers had part of that formula in last weekend’s series split against MSU, Mankato and hope to find the missing power play this weekend at Nebraska-Omaha (Friday 7:37 p.m., Saturday 7:07 p.m.).
The Beavers were 0-for-6 on the power play against Mankato and were shut down on all five times in Saturday’s 5-2 loss.
“We struck out last weekend on the power play and you can’t,” Serratore said. “Your power play has to get it done.”
Power play production has slowed in recent games for the Beavers. Since scoring three times on the power play in a 5-0 win over Alabama-Huntsville, the Beavers have scored twice on 17 attempts over the last six games.
That is a concern for BSU, which ranks second to last in WCHA goal scoring with 45 goals on the year. The Beavers have three more goals than last place Alaska-Anchorage.
“We’re offensively challenged and no one is averaging four goals a game in college hockey right now,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “You have to get it (power play) going this time of year because now we’re seeing teams a second time, and teams have tightened up for the second half of the year. There is so much at stake right now. Hockey is different this time of year than it is in November.”
Bemidji State (12-12-2, 6-10-2 WCHA) has lost three of its last four games heading into the series against Omaha (12-10-4, 9-6-3 WHCA). Omaha did not play last week and split the series against Mankato with a pair of overtime games.
This weekend is a rematch of the split November series at the Sanford Center. BSU rallied to tie Omaha 3-3 in the Friday night game before the Mavericks answered with a 5-2 win Saturday to end BSU’s seven-game unbeaten streak against UNO dating back to last year.
“They’re going to do what they did the first series, they’re going to try and outwork us and that’s going to be a challenge for us to get two wins this weekend,” BSU defenseman and alternate captain Jake Areshenko said.
Areshenko said recent losses have not shaken the team and many of the players are arriving early to the afternoon practices to work on various skills.
BSU hopes to return senior goalie Dan Bakala this weekend. He had 39 saves in last Friday’s 2-1 win but did not dress Saturday due to an undisclosed lower body injury. He participated in practice this week and said Tuesday he hopes to play against Omaha.
Serratore said the BSU is playing some of its best hockey of the season despite the recent losses. He felt BSU’s best series of the year was a December split against Denver, but did not think highly of the four wins that followed against Alabama-Huntsville and Bowling Green.
Serratore is not concerned about the team’s mental state as it heads into the stretch run where six of the final 10 games will be played on the road.
Colorado College, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Alaska-Anchorage remain on BSU’s regular season schedule before the first round of the playoffs.
“It’s a short season right now,” Serratore said. “There’s six weeks left and they’re playing on a lot of emotion. It’s exciting. This is an exciting time of the year and this is why you play. I don’t have to motivate them and they motivate themselves. I thought we’re playing good hockey and I’m pretty happy with how we’ve played the last four games. This is the WCHA. It’s a league where you can play good and still lose.”
Serratore said there are no plans for an “overhaul” at this point in the season and is pleased with the team’s work ethic in practices.
“I think we’ve had some good series as of late and it should be an exciting weekend,” Areshenko said. “We’re a little frustrated about losing on Saturday but we’ve got a hard couple weeks coming up here so we have to forget about last weekend.”
Jake Areshenko Interview
Bemidji State alternate captain Jake Areshenko talks about playing Nebraska-Omaha for the second time this season and how the team feels after last weekend’s split against MSU, Mankato.
BSU women look forward to rival North Dakota
One would be hard-pressed to find a women’s hockey team in the nation with a harder four-week schedule than what the Beavers are going through right now.
It started two weeks ago on the road against No. 2 Minnesota, continued last week in front of an attendance record crowd at No. 1 Wisconsin, resumes this week at heated rival in No. 6 North Dakota and concludes next weekend at home against No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth.
The Beavers, which received eight votes in the latest national poll, have not won during the stretch heading into the North Dakota series (Friday and Saturday, 7:07 p.m.) but are playing well according to head coach Steve Sertich.
“I look at the big picture,” he said. “The players and coaches were disappointed we didn’t get any points, especially last weekend. But I think we’re playing solid hockey from (goalie) Zuzana Tomcikova on up. It’s great preparation for the playoffs.”
Tomcikova has faced 162 shots the last four games with two of the last three going to overtime. Wisconsin needed a third-period goal for a 1-0 win to gain the sweep against the Beavers last Saturday.
“As good as she’s (Tomcikova) been in her four years, she’s playing at her best,” Sertich said. “Against Wisconsin she made some tremendous, game-turning type saves. To me I think she’s a Patty Kaz(maier) candidate and I think an All-American. I think she’s playing at a higher level than so many goalies that are in our league and elsewhere.”
The 1-0 loss against Wisconsin was played in front of 12,402 rowdy Badger fans at the Kohl Center, which set the NCAA attendance record for a women’s hockey game.
“It was unfortunate we didn’t get any points out of it,” BSU senior Montana Vichorek said. “It sucked we lost, but the experience was good. Playing in front of 12,000 people was crazy and we’ll probably never get the chance to do that again. It was fun, it a neat atmosphere. It was unfortunate they were all red and cheering against us. It was fun and I think it helped us play better.”
The Beavers (14-12-3, 8-12-2-0 WCHA) have shifted its attention to North Dakota (16-9-2, 12-8-2-1 WCHA). UND is an opponent anticipated like no other with last year’s three-game playoff loss still fresh in the minds of the players.
“We do like playing them, especially after our playoff series last year,” Vichorek said. “It was tough to take and such a good playoff series. I think that makes us – everyone who’s coming back on the team want to beat them more … They are very emotional games I think. They’re fun to play but we want to beat them too.”
The teams split the earlier meeting this season, UND winning 5-2 in Crookston and BSU winning 3-2 at the Sanford Center. If the season ended today, BSU would travel to Grand Forks for a playoff rematch.
“It’s an interesting rivalry and the games sometimes get pretty physical out there,” Sertich said. “I think who the officials are is crucial in a series like this. But there is something extra when we play North Dakota.”
Lushanko a finalist for Ms. Hockey
BSU hockey recruit Megan Lushanko of Chisago Lakes is one of 10 finalists for the 2012 Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award.
The list will be narrowed to five on Feb. 16 and the winner will be announced Feb. 26 in St. Paul.
Lushanko, a forward, has 27 goals and 31 assists for 58 points in 23 games this season.
What I’m reading this week
Bemidji State at Nebraska-Omaha (Friday 7:37, Saturday 7:07)
TV: The games will be televised in Nebraska on channels NET-1 and NET HD.The games will also be streamed on America One for a fee here.
Radio: Locally on The Mix 103.7 FM and online at the Beaver Radio Network.
Twitter: I won’t be making the trip this weekend, but I plan to watch the games and provide game updates on my Twitter account at @estromgren. I will try to get the line charts and post them on my blog before the game.
BSU junior Jordan George was profiled in a feature story this week at the College Hockey News. He talks about life after playing on a line with Matt Read and Ian Lowe. From Dan Myers.
Omaha goalie Ryan Massa could return this weekend against the Beavers. He was knocked out of a Jan. 20 game against Mankato with a concussion. Brainerd native Josh Archibald is expected to be back in the lineup this weekend. From Rob White, Omaha World-Herald.
Here’s a series preview from Matthew Semisch of Radio Free Omaha.
Mr. Semisch and I held a live chat earlier this week and talked some hockey. The replay is here if you missed it.
St. Cloud State at Wisconsin (Friday and Saturday, 7:07)
A second knee injury this season has ended Jordy Christian’s college career. He plans to under go surgery to repair damage in both knees within the next few months. From Mick Hatten, St. Cloud Times.
SCSU senior goalie Mike Lee has returned to the St. Cloud State lineup from a hip injury. Ryan Faragher took over goaltending duties since Lee suffered the injury. Coach Bob Motzko said he is unsure how to use the two goalies the rest of the season. From Mick Hatten, St. Cloud Times.
Wisconsin is in a tight race with North Dakota for the lead for home attendance average in college hockey this season. Wisconsin is averaging 11,409 fans per game and leads UND’s average by 142. The Badgers have topped the average attendance chart since moving to the Kohl Center in 1998-99. From Andy Baggot, Wisconsin State Journal.
Michigan Tech at MSU, Mankato (Friday 7:37, Saturday 7:07)
The Huskies are coming off last weekend’s three-point weekend at Minnesota-Duluth and the team is calling that series a defining moment. From Stephen Anderson, Daily Mining Gazette.
MSU goalie Phil Cook is red hot, who has allowed 11 goals and has a .945 save percentage in his las sixt tarts. He credits the strong play to the defense. From Shane Frederick, Mankato Free Press.
No. 11 Colorado College vs. No. 13 Denver (Friday 8:37, Saturday 8:07)
This is a home-and-home series with Friday’s game in Denver and Saturday’s game in Colorado Springs. It could be an adventure for both teams getting out of Denver as a storm forecast is predicting 22 inches of snow (yes 22 inches) to dump on Denver starting Friday.
Colorado College wing Michael Morin had surgery Wednesday on his right ankle and his season might be over. Winger Dakota Eveland and defenseman Eamonn McDermott are not close to returning and will not play against the Pioneers this weekend. From Brian Gomez, Colorado Springs Gazette.
Denver’s Ty Loney has been suspended indefinitely by coach George Gwozdecky for breaking team rules. He was on a seven-game point streak. From Mike Chambers, Denver Post.
Denver can regain the Gold Pan traveling trophy with a win this weekend. From Mike Chambers, Denver Post.
No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth at Alaska-Anchorage (Friday and Saturday, 10:07 p.m.)
Following Friday’s 4-4 tie against Michigan Tech, Duluth changed all four lines prior to Saturday’s 5-0 loss. That lineup is expected to be much the same except for a few tweaks. From Kevin Pates, Duluth News Tribune.
The Seawolves carry a seven-game losing streak into this weekend’s series and have not won since Dec. 9 at Colorado College.
Matt Read goal video
Former Bemidji State captain Matt Read scored the 16th goal of his rookie season for the Philadelphia Flyers during Thursday night’s home game against Nashville. He forced a turnover and finished off a breakaway with a wrist shot. Here’s the video:
Millsy’s Former and Future Beavers Update
Millsy over at The Beaver Pond tracks the statistics of former Bemidji State players and prospects in the junior leagues. Here is the latest update with stats current as of Jan. 31.
-Andrew Murray-San Jose Sharks (NHL) 39 GP, 1G-3A-4 Pts., 4 PIM, +3
-Matt Read-Philadelphia (NHL) 45 GP, 15G-16A-31 Pts., 4 PIM, +12
-Matt Francis-Nottingham Panthers (ELITE League) 46 GP, 15G-25A-40 Pts., 27 PIM
-Brendan Cook-Sonderjyske (Denmark) 27 GP, 16G-12A-28 Pts, 20 PIM
-Tyler Scofield-Klagenfurter AC (Austria) 35 GP, 15G-11A-26 Pts, 22 PIM
-Anssi Tieranta-LeKi (Finland2) 11 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts, 8 PIM (Injured)
-Mikka Lindholm-HKC (Finland3) 21 GP, 11G-11A-22 Pts., 28 PIM
-Matt Dalton-Vityaz Chekhov (KHL) 34 GP, 7W-21L-4SOL, 90.9 Save %, 3.49 GAA, 11 PIM
-Emil Billberg-Sodertalje (Allsvenskan) 38 GP, 5G-4A-9 Pts., 18 PIM
-Ryan Huddy-Valpelice (Italy) 18 GP, 7G-14A-21 Pts., 6 PIM (Injured)
-Rob Sirianni-Valpelice (Italy) 35 GP, 19G-20A-39 Pts., 32 PIM
-Chris McKelvie-Connecticut Whale (AHL) 30 GP, 2G-2A-4 Pts., 40 PIM, -1
-Jamie Mattie-HC Innsbruck (Austria2) 19 GP, 0G-8A-8 Pts., 6 PIM
-Matt Climie-Chicago (AHL) 21 GP, 14W-6L-OSOL, 92.8 Save %, 2.38 GAA, 2 PIM, 3 Assists
*******-Vancouver Canucks (NHL) 0 GP(Returned to Chicago)
-Ian Lowe-Idaho Steelheads (ECHL) 39 GP, 7G-15A-22 Pts., 40 PIM, -5
*******-Texas Stars (AHL) 6 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts., 2 PIM, -2 (Returned to Idaho)
-Matt Pope-South Carolina (ECHL) 18 GP, 7G-12A-19 Pts., 4 PIM, +3
*******-Hershey Bears (AHL) 19 GP, 3G-2A-5 Pts., 14 PIM, -1 (Returned to South Carolina)
-Niko Suoraniemi-Eindhoven Kemphanen (Netherlands) 28 GP, 6G-16A-22 Pts., 16 PIM
-Daryl Bat-Tyringe SoSS (Sweden Division 2) 25 GP, 14G-13A-27 Pts., 26 PIM
-Riley Weselowski-Rapid City (CHL) 37 GP, 7G-18A-25 Pts., 45 PIM, +15
-Luke Erickson-Arizona (CHL) 40 GP, 13G-9A-22 Pts., 26 PIM, -19
-Brandon Marino-Quad City (CHL) 41 GP, 27G-30A-57 Pts., 18 PIM, -1
-Andrew Martens-Wichita Thunder (CHL) 30 GP, 9G-16A-25 Pts., 22 PIM, +22
*******Oklahoma City Barons (AHL) 12 GP, 0G-1A-1 Pts., 2 PIM, -3 (Returned to Wichita)
-Ryan Cramer-Tulsa Oilers (CHL) 33 GP, 13G-17A-30 Pts., 33 PIM, +1
-Brady Riesgraf-Fargo Force (USHL) 3 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts., 2 PIM, +1
**********-Coulee Region Chill (NAHL) 20 GP, 1G-2A-3 Pts., 10 PIM, -16
-Brendan Harms-Portage Terriers (MJHL) 30 GP, 13G-25A-38 Pts., 37 PIM
-Bob Kinne-Lincoln Stars (USHL) 25 GP, 4G-2A-6 Pts., 6 PIM, +3
-Corey Petrash-Winnipeg Saints (MJHL) 38 GP, 11G-15A-26Pts., 44 PIM
-Brad Robbins-Sioux City (USHL) 34 GP, 18G-14A-32 Pts., 14 PIM, -12
-Graeme McCormack-Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL) 44 GP, 10G-36A-46 Pts., 38 PIM
-Cory Ward-Aberdeen Wings (NAHL) 38 GP, 24G-22A-46 Pts., 23 PIM, +17
-Carter Struthers-Weyburn Red Wings (SJHL) 33 GP, 3G-18A-21 Pts., 17 PIM