BEMIDJI -- For most of the last two months, the Bemidji State men’s hockey team has sat right near the top of the WCHA standings in second place, trailing only third-ranked Minnesota State, a team that has consistently ranked among the best in the country.
Yet the Beavers have yet to find a way to crack the USCHO.com top 20 rankings. No. 15 Bowling Green, No. 17 Northern Michigan and No. 19 Michigan Tech are ranked, but are below BSU in the league standings.
Head coach Tom Serratore, for one, doesn’t put much stock into the rankings, though he doesn’t disagree with them either.
“I know people like talking about those things,” Serratore said. “But quite honestly I don’t think we’ve earned the right to be ranked. I just don’t think we have. We went to the Mariucci Classic and we lost to Minnesota and (Minnesota State). That would have obviously been a nice shot in the arm. We’ve played well as of late. I think we’re a pretty good team. But there’s a lot of good teams in college hockey.
“I don’t worry about those things. I think we all just want to keep getting better as the season progresses and we want to be hitting stride come tournament time.”
The Beavers have won four straight, though they haven’t exactly faced stiff competition in league play.
Bemidji State’s opponents in its first 16 WCHA contests have an average win percentage of .296. That increases to .572 for opponents in the team’s final 12 league games.
BSU has compiled 37 out of a possible 48 points, giving the team a leg up entering the season’s final six weeks.
“It’s a gauntlet right now when you take a look at what we have for the next 12 games,” Serratore said.
The daunting stretch begins this weekend when Michigan Tech (13-10-2, 8-7-1-0 WCHA) comes to the Sanford Center for the programs’ only meeting this season. BSU (12-7-3, 12-3-1-0 WCHA) swept the Huskies on Hockey Day Minnesota weekend last January, including an overtime win outdoors beside Lake Bemidji.
The Beavers will then close out the regular season with two series against Minnesota State (away and home), and one each against Bowling Green (home), Northern Michigan (away) and Alaska Anchorage (away).
“We just want to be consistent,” senior defenseman Tommy Muck said of where the team hopes to find itself by the end of the regular season. “We want to find our game and stay consistent and be playing our best hockey come that time.”
BSU nearly unbeatable at home
Bemidji State has been close to unbeatable inside the Sanford Center, where they own a 7-1-2 record and points are hard to come by for visitors.
For all the team’s home success, BSU was able to complete its first road sweep last week with wins of 3-1 and 4-3 at Alabama Huntsville.
“You want to take care of business when you’re at home,” Muck said. “Honestly, some of these road trips are tough. It’s long. You’re not just driving five hours to Mankato. … To find a way to get all six points when you’re on the road is huge, especially in the second half. It’s hard to sweep right now.”
The Beavers trailed 3-2 in the third period of the series finale Friday but rallied behind goals from Nick Cardelli and Adam Brady.
“There were some teaching points in that game for sure,” said Muck, who assisted on the team’s final three goals. “But ultimately for us as a team to stay composed, come together, stick to it, and just keep at it and get that win, that’s huge.”
If you go
Who: BSU vs. Michigan Tech
Where: Sanford Center
When: 7:07 p.m. Friday; 6:07 p.m. Saturday
Radio: Beaver Radio Network/92.1 FM