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HOCKEY: Beavers look to snap Friday woes against Nebraska-Omaha

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HOCKEY: Beavers look to snap Friday woes against Nebraska-Omaha
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BEMIDJI – As the season winds down, the Bemidji State hockey team finds itself in a precarious position.

After conceding three points to Michigan Tech during a rough series in Houghton, Mich., last weekend, the Beavers are tied with the Huskies for 10th place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings with 12 points apiece.

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The good news? The Beavers still have six more WCHA series to play before the playoffs begin March 15.

BSU (5-12-5, 4-8-4 WCHA) hosts third-place Nebraska-Omaha (13-9-2, 9-5-2 WCHA) this weekend at the Sanford Center with hopes of improving their playoff position.

A sweep or two in the next two months would be ideal for a team that has yet to establish any momentum in 2013. But there’s one problem – the Beavers have yet to win a Friday night game.

Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said he hasn’t talked to his team about its 0-7-3 Friday record, but it’s something the Beavers are aware of.

“It’s just one of those things I don’t mention but they probably know it,” Serratore said. “We need to win on Friday. It sure helps your mindset for the whole weekend. There’s a lot of pressure on a Saturday game when you lose on Friday. I don’t know what it is, but our Fridays haven’t been very good.”

Indeed, the Beavers have been shut our four times on a Friday, including last weekend against Tech (a 4-0 loss) and Jan. 4 at home against Western Michigan (6-0).

A handful of Friday night ties are the only bright spots for the Beavers in an otherwise forgettable day of the week.

Luckily for BSU, one of those Friday night ties happened to come against Nebraska-Omaha way back on Oct. 26.

In that game the Beavers rallied from a 2-0 deficit, scored three goals in the second period and held on for a tie. The Beavers topped the Mavericks 3-2 in the Saturday game.

“We definitely need to find some energy on Fridays,” BSU senior defenseman Jake Areshenko said. “We want to set the tone this week. We need to come out ready to go that first night.”

The Beavers have had lots of success against the Mavericks, going 5-0-3 in the teams’ last eight meetings.

Areshenko said UNO will be using that as motivation this time around. It’s the last meeting between the Beavers and Mavericks as WCHA opponents; UNO leaves for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference next season.

“They’re going to be flying around because we’ve had a lot of success against them the last four years; and in the last series we kind of took it to them,” Areshenko said. “We have to come out Friday to set the tone for the weekend.”

Despite BSU’s recent mastery over the Mavs, Serratore warned that the last series was a long time ago. Much has changed since then – for both teams.

“We played pretty good hockey down there, but since then they’ve found a tear,” Serratore said. “They’re one of the top teams in the league right now.

“You hope you can play well again, but again, they’re a different team, we’re a different team. So we’ll see what happens. Sometimes it’s not who you’re playing it’s when you’re playing them.”

Junior forward Ryan Walters leads the conference in scoring with 36 points; he’s scored 15 goals in 24 games. Meanwhile Brainerd native Ryan Archibald is also scoring at a prolific rate with 13 goals and 23 points.

In all, the Mavs have four players with over 20 points and 10 players in double digits.

They’ve scored 88 goals overall, second only to Minnesota’s 93.

The Beavers, meanwhile, are 11th in the league in scoring with 48 goals. Only four players – seniors Brance Orban, Jordan George and Aaron McLeod and sophomore Danny Mattson – have reached double figures scoring. None have 20 points; Orban leads the team with 16.

One problem is BSU’s inability to score on the power play as of late. The Beavers are only 2-for-24 (8.3 percent) on the man-advantage since returning from the holiday break, including 0-for-7 in Saturday night’s game against Michigan Tech, a 2-2 tie.

“It’s a concern. Power play was very good in first half, second half we’re gripping the stick a little bit,” Serratore said. “We have to find a way to get it done on the power play. If we would have found a way to get it done on the power play Saturday we would have won the game.”

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
(218) 333-9772
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