Beavers still motivated after sweep at Denver
After enjoying early regular-season success in recent years, the Bemidji State men's hockey team is in an unfamiliar situation after the first 10 games this season.
The Beavers are 2-7-1 at the end of a tough stretch where four of the first five WCHA opponents were or still are nationally ranked.
There's a sense of urgency among the players, who are patiently working and waiting to see results come in victories.
"We've just got to find a way to win, find a way to put in 60-minute efforts together because we're starting to fall down the standings," BSU defenseman Ryan Adams said after Saturday's 4-2 loss to Denver. "Each weekend is huge for points for us. We've just got to find a way to make some wins."
Whatever momentum the Beavers had after the Alaska-Anchorage victory two weeks ago was smothered in the sweep to Denver. It was a series where the Beavers struggled to generate quality scoring opportunities consistently in games that were highlighted by tough defense.
The Beavers had leads of 1-0 Friday and 2-1 Saturday before losing both games. BSU was within a one-goal reach both nights until the Pioneers scored empty-net goals in the final minute of play.
In the first 10 games for Bemidji State, four have been decided by one goal.
The Beavers are playing good hockey, just not good enough to win consistently right now. Adams said the players remain motivated to succeed and will continue to play with a positive attitude.
"Moving forward there's going to be a lot of desperation from this team," Adams said. "We've got a lot of strong guys in this locker room and when the going gets tough, we stick together and that's what we're going to do. We're going to move forward and get better every day in practice and move towards next weekend and just keep getting better."
Following the NHL's lead, many of the BSU players are sporting moustaches this month to raise awareness and support the fight against prostate cancer.
BSU defensemen Matt Carlson and Dan MacIntyre brought the suggestion to the team and the players embraced it.
"Just a lot of guys are supporting it and some are doing it to add some color out there," Carlson said. "A lot of guys stepped up and wanted to do it. It's something to do, and something fun. The guys rallied around it and it's really nice, obviously. It shows awareness all throughout the country."
BSU's struggling penalty kill showed improvement last weekend and killed eight of the nine Denver power plays.
The Beavers were 4-for-5 Friday and 1-for-4 Saturday. BSU's penalty kill now stands at a 76.8 percent success rate.
"It was a point of strength for us this weekend and a point of emphasis all week working on it," Adams said. "It was nice to see some dividends paid in that area."
Bemidji State defenseman Sam Rendle is making an impact in the first semester of his freshman season. He's currently playing on the second defensive pairing with Adams.
Rendle has scored all three of his goals in the last four games; each one BSU's first goal of the game. He scored in both games at Denver.
"Sam's got very good instincts and you could see that this weekend," Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said. "He's getting acclimated to college hockey and his instincts are taking over in the game -- the game is starting to slow down for him a little bit."
Behind the scenes
There was a BSU connection playing a role in the game-day operations in the Denver series.
BSU alum Kevin Hanson works as an alternate official in the video replay booth in a position he has held at Denver University hockey games since 2002.
Hanson was a student manager for the men's hockey team from 1986-89 when Serratore played for the Beavers.
Bemidji State will play in its first non-conference series this weekend at the Bemidji Regional Event Center against Northern Michigan (5-6-2 overall, 5-4-1-0 CCHA).
The Beavers tied and defeated the Wildcats last year in overtime in Marquette.
NMU received two votes in this week's national poll. The Wildcats tied Alaska 1-1 (lost in a shootout 2-1) and defeated Alaska 2-1 last weekend.
League leader and No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth continued its early season roll and defeated No. 15 Wisconsin in a pair of overtime games in Madison, 6-5 and 3-2. It was the first time UMD swept in Madison since 1985.
In another anticipated series, No. 4 Nebraska-Omaha split with No. 8 North Dakota in Madison. UND scored three goals in the second and third periods to win Friday's game 6-5. UNO's Alex Hudson scored with three-tenths of a second left in regulation to give the Mavericks a 1-0 win Saturday and the split.
No. 19 Minnesota went on the road to sweep Michigan Tech by 6-4 and 4-1 scores.
Alaska-Anchorage hosted St. Cloud State and split the series. The Seawolves won 3-2 in overtime Friday and lost 4-3 Saturday.
Minnesota-Duluth received 49 of the 50 first-place votes to maintain its No. 1 ranking in the USCHO.com national poll. Other WCHA ranked teams are Nebraska-Omaha (4), North Dakota (9), Denver (12), Minnesota (15) and Wisconsin (16).
Receiving votes were Colorado College and St. Cloud State.
BSU in women's poll
The Bemidji State women's hockey team received five votes in this week's USCHO.com women's national poll, which ranks the top 10 teams.
The Beavers are on the road this weekend to face No. 10 Ohio State in Columbus.