For six seniors on the Bemidji State men's hockey team, the next two weekends will be extra special. The games will mark the last time the group ever sets foot on the John Glas Fieldhouse as a member of the Beavers team.
Seniors Cody Bostock, Travis Winter, Orlando Alamano, Brandon Marino, Tyler Scofield and Matt Francis have made a major mark on the Bemidji State program - both on ice and off.
With the final regular season yet to be played the seniors have compiled an impressive .681 winning percentage in CHA league games and won thee championships - a CHA tourney title in 2005-06, along with regular season championships the last two seasons.
The group has also excelled in the classroom, featuring a cumulative 3.41 (out of a possible 4.0) grade point average. In addition this class marks the first where every player will graduate in four years.
"This is a special, special group," said BSU head coach Tom Serratore. "Both on the ice and off, they have all kept the program tradition of success going. Each one of them brings something positive to the team and program."
Bostock and Winter have both been All-Conference selections and captains, Serratore said. Scofield is one of the most exciting players and prolific scorers of the Beavers NCAA DI era. "He's truly an elite player," Serratore reported.
Alamano is the type of player and person a coach dreams of having on a team, Serratore continued. "There are truly none finer than Alamano," he said. "He chose to come back for a fifth year and things didn't work out as he struggled with some injuries. But through it all, there was never one negative word from him. He's a tremendous person of character and honor."
Matt Francis transferred to BSU from St. Cloud State. As a result, Serratore said he took a special interest in Francis to make sure his college experience was positive. "He ended up playing a lot for us and so many things turned out positive for him. That says a lot about what kind of young man he is."
Marino has also played a lot for the Beavers in his four years and has been a positive influence, Serratore said.
"Each group of players who come in is different," Serratore reported. "These guys are up there among the best."
The first thing that Winter wanted to say prior to this weekend's season finale series was thank you.
"As a class we want to thank the coaches, the fans and the community," Winter said. "This is a great town to play for and a great student section who always showed the best support of any school in the CHA. These four years have been a blast."
"It's gone by so fast," Bostock said. "It sure doesn't seem like four years since we talked with the seniors and they told us how fast it went by. I guess you don't realize it until you go through it."
Highlights that will never be seen again in hockey:
All were in agreement number one on the list was the Beavers famous six second goal, while playing Niagara at The Glas a few years back. The Beavers were trailing 3-2 and had a face off in their zone with only six seconds on the clock. Winter won the face off back to defenseman Riley Weselowski, who flipped the puck in the air toward the BSU offensive zone. Forward Rob Sirianni flew up ice and corralled the puck just as it bounced short of the blue line. Sirianni then immediately rifled a shot that beat the Niagara goalie over the shoulder as the final buzzer sounded.
Another was a series in New York against Niagara once again. It was a huge series with CHA title implications on the line, said Bostock. During the game the net kept coming off the moorings. After one instance, the head referee whistled BSU goalie Matt Climie for a penalty for intentionally knocking the net off the posts.
"Climie went berserk," said Bostock, "so the ref gave him a 10 minute misconduct. Then he made Climie serve the penalty. None of us had ever seen that before - a goalie serving a penalty - it was pretty funny watching him come over the boards with those big pads."
Then there was a game at Minnesota-Duluth in which the Beavers trailed by three goals at three different times - 3-0, 4-1 and 5-2. The Beavers rallied in the third period to win 6-5.
Phrases and sayings they will never forget (edited to those allowed in a family newspaper):
"If you see a piece of tape, pick it up ..."
"That's neither here or nor ..."
"If you move the puck up ice, now that's puck movement ..."
On a long losing streak: "Not even Bob Peters could get us out of that one ..."
"Different guys, same attitude. Same goals, culture, tradition and karma (chemistry)."
All were in agreement the biggest was winning the CHA tournament championship in Detroit as freshman.
"Jean-Guy Gervais got a goal to seal the deal with about two minutes left in the game," said Marino. "His (goal celebration) was sick. he got down on one knee and came all the way across the ice to the bench. You could actually feel the passion and emotion. It was unforgettable."
The seniors now face the last regular season series and the CHA Tournament at The Glas the next two weekends. While a bit melancholy about the run being over the group is also excited about the unique possibilities the schedule presents. The Beavers will receive the CHA regular season championship trophy this weekend and then have the chance to earn the CHA tournament title next week.
That would be a major exclamation point on a very strong run by this group of six.
"It would be pretty cool to have two parties and win our last game at The Glas," Marino said.