A share of the regular season title and the top seed in the College Hockey America tournament assured, the final weekend of the regular season may seem to be a little anti-climactic for the Bemidji State men's hockey team.
Don't bet on it. There are plenty of reasons for motivation.
Start with the seniors. "We're down to only four more shows to put on," said Matt Francis. "We want to make sure we do all we can to make them the best."
Then there's the matter of staying on a roll, peaking at the right time and gaining confidence heading into the CHA tourney. Without a doubt, the Beavers and Robert Morris are the two hottest teams in the league heading into this key part of the season.
RMU enters the regular season finale with the third longest unbeaten streak in the country, posting a 3-0-3 record over the last six games.
The Beavers are unbeaten in their last five games at 4-0-1, although two of the victories came against the U.S. National U-18 team last weekend and were exhibitions. Officially, the Beavers are 7-1-1 in their last nine games -- not a bad run in itself.
The loss and the tie came at the hands of Robert Morris three weeks ago.
"They were very, very good three weeks ago," said BSU head coach Tom Serratore, "and it looks like they continued that way. No doubt, they are on a bit of a roll. They have a team that feeds off emotion; they're boisterous, young and have a good feeling about themselves -- which they should."
Two RMU players are on top of the scoring stats column in the CHA -- senior forward Chris Margott and sophomore Nathan Longpre. Margott leads the league in scoring with 17 goals and 21 assists for 38 points. Longpre is just one point behind at 12-25--37.
"Margott and Longpre have been putting up impressive numbers," Serratore reported. "Margott is arguably the best player in the league -- they play him a lot and double his shifts at times. No doubt he's a threat every time he's out there."
The Colonials are also getting strong play out of freshman goaltender Brooks Ostergard during their streak. Ostergard made 71 saves on 74 shots in a pair of ties with Niagara last weekend (3-3, 0-0).
"He's playing with a lot of confidence, which is a key this time of year," Serratore said.
With both teams playing well as of a late, don't expect the intensity level to drop off now. Both teams figure they have something to prove.
"They could be the team that's playing the best right now," Serratore said. "It's all about next weekend and the CHA tournament -- they could be the one's peaking at the right time.
"Even though we've played each other four times in the last month, I'm sure some things have changed in their scouting report just as ours has changed."
The Beavers are coming off a sweep of the U.S. U-18 team in a pair of exhibitions, winning 3-1 and 6-3.
Entering the series with some misgivings, Serratore said the weekend turned out very positive for BSU.
"I didn't know what to expect and started second guessing myself," Serratore reported. "I didn't know if we should have even scheduled the exhibitions, but then we didn't want a bye week at that point of the season.
"But it turned out being not only a good weekend, but a positive for everyone. We played some young kids and got to see them perform. We also rested some of our veterans."
The Beavers were able to "keep the train on the tracks," in the exhibition games as well, Serratore continued.
"We found some offense and played very well defensively as well," Serratore said. "The games were very entertaining and I was very happy with how the guys performed."
Now it's on to more important matters, like clinching the CHA regular season title outright and keeping the winning way going.
"We know we're in for a big challenge this weekend," Serratore said. "I hope we can figure out a way to slow those guys down a bit."
The line up
Sophomore Ryan Cramer continues to be out of the line up with the MCL injury. There has been no word on his possible return.
Tyler Scofield-Matt Read-Matt Francis
Ben Kinne-Shea Walters-Tyler Lehrke
Jamie MacQueen-Travis Winter-Darcy Findlay
Brandon Marino-Chris McKelvie-Ian Lowe
Brad Hunt-Cody Bostock
Graham McManamin-Chris Peluso
Tyler Jundt-Kyle Hardwick