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Bemidji St. coach Tom Serratore records 200th victory on BSU bench

Beaver hockey coach Tom Serratore won his 200th game on the BSU bench Saturday when the Beavers battered Denver 5-1. Serratore will try for win No. 201 Dec. 30 when BSU battles Massachusetts in the first round of a tournament in New Hampshire. BSU Photo Services

BEMIDJI – The Bemidji State men’s hockey team gave coach Tom Serratore a couple of early Christmas presents Saturday night at the Sanford Center. The Beavers’ dominating 5-1 victory over No. 10-ranked Denver put a bow on the pre-holiday portion of their schedule with two wins and a tie in the last three outings. It was also the 200th career win for Serratore. “Our guys are going into the break on a high note,” Serratore said. “That’s all we can ask. We hope they can carry this over into the second half, but it was just a nice Christmas present.” The Beavers are 5-8-3 overall and 4-7-3 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. They’re off this weekend and will resume play Dec. 30-31 at the Ledyard National Bank Classic in New Hampshire. Bemidji State will face Massachusetts in the first game and either Dartmouth or New Hampshire in the second. The Beavers will return to the Sanford Center for a pair of non-conference games against Western Michigan Jan. 4-5. “We knew we needed these points to kind of get out of the bottom of the league,” said David Boehm, a senior from Naples, Fla., who had a goal and two assists Saturday night. “Especially before Christmas break, it’s a pretty good Christmas present.” “It’s definitely a good way to go into Christmas break,” added Brance Orban, who also scored a goal and assisted on two others. “We really wanted this weekend bad and we’ll take three out of four points.” With Saturday’s win – and losses by Colorado College and Michigan Tech – the Beavers pulled into a tie for eighth place with the Tigers going into the holiday break. Boehm said a stronger forecheck has helped BSU in its past three games – a win against Minnesota-Duluth and the tie and win against Denver. “We’re definitely making good strides,” Boehm said. “We switched up our forecheck this week, and tonight we got after them pretty good, made their ‘D’ cough up a few pucks. That really helped us tonight, and this whole weekend.” BSU went 2 for 4 on the power play Saturday, the first time it has scored twice on the man advantage since a 5-4 overtime loss to Michigan Tech Nov. 16. “We’ve got a lot of confidence right now, a lot of good mojo as a unit,” Orban said of the power play unit, which is 10 for 49 overall (20 percent) but 3 for 11 (27 percent) in the last three games. “We’re clicking right now. Tonight I think we just outworked their penalty kill and good things happened.” BSU hopes this momentum can help carry over through the nearly two-week-long break. For Serratore, it’s the best game his team has played all season. “You look a couple weeks ago, we had a tough outing against Mankato and we were pretty low,” he said. “Then we lose again last Friday night in Duluth, but we responded on Saturday and kept it going this weekend. “We brought that momentum from Duluth into the Sanford Center and it was nice getting those points. It was nice having some success at home. It’s been tough for us at home a little bit. We’ve been fighting it a little bit. But our guys played with an abundance of maturity.”