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MEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers return to the ice to face No. 1 Minnesota State

The Bemidji State men’s hockey team has enjoyed its week off.

020922.S.BP.BSUMHKY Alex Ierullo first goal.jpg
Bemidji State senior Alex Ierullo (14) scores in the second period against Northern Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI – The Bemidji State men’s hockey team has enjoyed its week off.

Some of the Beavers’ players took in the women’s hockey team’s home series against Ohio State last weekend, including BSU’s miraculous last-minute 3-2 win on Friday . All of them were able to take some time away from the rink and recover as they prepare for the stretch run.

With only four games left in the regular season – including a pair this weekend against No. 1 Minnesota State – the time for BSU to kick its performance into high gear is now.

“We're running out of time,” head coach Tom Serratore said. “There's no better time than the present to kick ‘er down, that's for sure. It’s important. We're three weeks away, it's going to happen (in the) snap of a finger.”

The top-ranked Mavericks (27-5, 19-3 CCHA) are hardly an opponent Bemidji State (14-16, 12-10 CCHA) can ease back in against, and Serratore knows it.


“It's just going to be a battle,” Serratore said. “It always is when we play Mankato. Very difficult building, they've had a ton of success in that building. They've had a ton of success, period.”

The idle week helped BSU’s players rest their bodies, with the added benefit of potentially helping some skaters who have missed games return to the ice. That could play a critical role this weekend, as many players are dealing with minor injuries at this point in the season.

“It's very important,” senior forward Alex Ierullo said. “Especially since it's the end of the season, so we have some guys that are banged up. Guys who were playing a bit banged up, they'll be ready to go, they'll be fresh. We'll be well rested. So we're excited to play this weekend.”

The Beavers have lost six of their last seven games but picked up a win in the final game before the break, a much-needed 5-3 triumph over Northern Michigan. It made a big difference in how they’ve approached this week.

“Your mentality, your mindset, good practice this week – (you) get reenergized,” Serratore said. “There's nothing a hard-fought win for the heart and the mind. So it was a good win on Saturday against Northern.”

The early returns from practice are promising, as BSU seems refreshed. But the Beavers won’t know until Friday whether they’re truly ready to go toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team in the country.

“We'll find out,” Serratore said. “But we've had good practices. Really good practices Monday and Tuesday. Good energy. So again, we'll see. You don't know until game time. But I really like the attitude, the mentality of our players right now.”

The women’s team will also play at Minnesota State this weekend, giving Bemidji State a rare opportunity to play a road doubleheader.


“It's fun for fans who want to make the trip,” Serrratore said. “You can see both teams play, and I think that's exciting. Actually, I wish we could make that happen more. It's great when we play back-to-back at home, because I know the fans really enjoy it. We've got a big contingent of fans that follow both teams.”

The Beaver women (11-16-3, 8-16-2 WCHA) will face off with Minnesota State (12-17-1, 8-17-1 WCHA) in a battle for fifth place in the WCHA at 3:01 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18, and 2:01 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19, in Mankato. The Beaver men will meet the Mavericks at 7:07 p.m. on Friday and 6:07 p.m. on Saturday.

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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