MEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers close first half against Alaska Anchorage
BEMIDJI -- If the Bemidji State men’s hockey team can duplicate its first series of the season against Alaska Anchorage, that would suit the Beavers just fine.
When the teams met in Anchorage in early November, the Beavers held the Seawolves scoreless for the first 119 minutes of the weekend. UAA netted its only goal in the final minute of a 3-1 BSU win, which came on the heels of a 2-0 result in game one.
The Seawolves may only be 1-12-1 overall and 0-9-1-0 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, but the Beavers (7-7-2, 5-4-1-0 WCHA) know not to take them for granted.
Especially if Anchorage comes out like they did against North Dakota three weeks ago when it took a 3-1 lead into the third period in Grand Forks. The Seawolves also hung with Minnesota State last Friday, trailing only 2-1 entering the final minutes.
“We played them earlier in the year and those were two battles up in Anchorage,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “They’re just going to be tight games.”
Matt Curley is the new man in charge of Alaska Anchorage this season.
The first-year head coach has a resume that differs from most of his college hockey peers. Curley most recently spent three seasons as head coach of the EC Red Bulls Juniors team in Salzburg, Austria.
“You might see a few nuances from Europe right there, but they’re a team that obviously wants to pressure the puck quick, they’ve got good pace,” Serratore said. “They’ve got a good (defensive) corps led by (Eric) Sinclair and Tomi Hiekkavirta.
“I don’t think there’s anything crazy different, but they’re definitely different from where they were last year.”Second time around
For the first time this season, the Beavers are facing a WCHA opponent for a second series.
Does playing a team for the second time around change anything?
“Honestly, not much,” Serratore said. “I think right now it’s a little bit of Anchorage, but it’s more of us. … There’s obviously the special teams. You’re always preparing for special teams, faceoff plays. I don’t care who you’re playing. Those are always a little unique.”
The Beavers are coming off a series split with Alabama Huntsville. The weekend began with a 4-0 win, but ended with BSU allowing three third-period goals in a 4-2 loss the team wants to learn from.
“It’s more about our game right now,” Serratore said. “Mostly after that hiccup on Saturday night, we’ve got to worry about our game.”
This weekend marks Bemidji State’s final series before taking a weekend off for Christmas. The Beavers won’t play their next game after this week until a Dec. 29-30 nonconference series at Air Force.
That means now is the final chance for BSU to pick up points in the WCHA standings until 2019.
The Beavers currently sit in sixth place in the league with 16 points. BSU is three points back of Lake Superior State for fourth place (the final home playoff spot), two points behind Northern Michigan and two points ahead of Alaska Fairbanks.
This weekend is just as important as any other, Serratore said.
“I mean points are big all the time whether it’s before Christmas, after Christmas, opening weekend,” Serratore said. “You put value and you put stock in every series.
“Now we want to make sure we close out the first half on a strong note. We want this to carry over into the second half.”
If you go
Who: BSU vs. Alaska Anchorage
Where: Sanford Center
When: 7:07 p.m. Friday; 5:07 p.m. Saturday
Radio: Beaver Radio Network/103.7 FM