BEMIDJI – Back at ground zero.
That’s how Bemidji State alternate captain Jake Areshenko characterized his team’s mindset after getting outscored 9-1 in last weekend’s series sweep against Minnesota State Mankato.
“We’ve got to get back to the simple things,” the senior defenseman said of what the Beavers must do going into this weekend’s conference series at Minnesota-Duluth.
“The only things we can control are how hard we work and how smart we work. I think those are the key points we’ll have to focus on. If you work hard, good things will happen, and I think everybody kinda knows we have to have that mindset going in.”
Areshenko and the rest of the Beavers might be wise to put the MSU series behind them.
After all, there wasn’t much that went right in Mankato. The Beavers (3-7-2, 2-6-2 WCHA) couldn’t generate much offense and were outshot in the series 72-38. They also were whistled for 13 penalties for 48 minutes.
“It was a tough series on the road,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said.
“They beat us in every facet: shots, loose pucks, special teams. They were a hockey team that was on a mission last weekend. […] We just need to forget about last weekend. It’s a new week.”
Bemidji may be running into Minnesota-Duluth at the worst possible time. The Bulldogs (4-7-3, 2-5-3 WCHA) finally have some momentum after a seven-game winless streak in October and November. They recently took three points at Michigan Tech last weekend – the same Michigan Tech team that swept Bemidji State.
The two teams face off at 7:07 p.m. today and Saturday at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Despite the fact that the Beavers and Bulldogs are trending in different direction, BSU is just one place behind UMD in the WCHA standings. The Bulldogs are tied with Wisconsin and Michigan Tech for ninth place with seven points while the Beavers are a spot behind in 11th with six.
“Duluth’s a team that lost a little bit but still have a lot left,” Serratore said said. “They’re a team that’s playing very well as of late. I watched their games against Michigan Tech and they took three out of four points on the road. Their power play is very effective and they know how to win. They’ve won a lot of hockey games the past few years. We have our work cut out for us.”
The Bulldogs lost 2012 Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Connolly to graduation but they’re still as dangerous as ever.
The Bulldogs scored four power play goals against Michigan Tech and are 18-for-71 (25.4 percent) overall. That’s the fifth-best power-play unit in the country and by far the best in the WCHA. Mike Sidel, UMD’s leading scorer with 10 goals and seven assists, also leads the nation with six power play goals.
BSU’s penalty kill, on the other hand, has struggled in recent weeks. The Beavers are 41-for-52 (78.8 percent) after giving up three power play goals against MSU.
“Our penalty kill just isn’t sharp right now,” Serratore said. “We’re not defending well and we have to play better away from the puck.”
BSU took a lot of penalties last weekend, but most concerning for Serratore were the two five-minute major and game misconduct penalties that occurred against the Mavs on Saturday.
“We can’t get hitting from behind and we can’t get kneeing, those types of things,” Serratore said. “You can’t put yourself down for a five-minute major and you can’t put yourself down five on three unless there’s a scoring chance. We have to be better from that standpoint.
“But overall I’m not concerned about the penalties. We just have to be concerned when there are penalties that we do a better job of keeping the puck out of the net.”