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Beaver hockey: Schedule excites Serratore, Beavers

BEMIDJI -- Fans of the BSU men's hockey team will be able to watch many of the top teams in Division I this winter as BSU's 2014-15 schedule includes 13 games against squads that were in last winter's 16-team NCAA tournament.

The Beavers will trek into the jungle right away as they open the campaign Oct. 10-11 with a home-and-home series against UND and then head to Minnesota on Oct. 24-25 to face the Gophers.

Last season North Dakota lost 2-1 to Minnesota in the NCAA semifinals while the Gophers fell 7-4 to Union (N.Y.) in the championship game.

"We're going to be in the fire right away," said BSU coach Tom Serratore. "And that's fine with us because we'll be able to see where we are at."

November's schedule includes a series at Minnesota State (Nov. 7-8) and a home weekend set with St. Cloud (Nov. 28-29). Both of those teams participated in the 2014 NCAA tournament. Minnesota State lost 2-1 to Lowell in the opening round while the Huskies defeated Notre Dame 4-3 in overtime before falling 4-0 to Minnesota.

The second half of the schedule sees the Beavers facing either Minnesota or Minnesota State in the second round of the North Star College Cup Jan. 24 at the Xcel Energy Center and closing the regular season with a series at Ferris State (Feb. 27-28) and at home against Minnesota State (March 6-7).

Ferris State also was a participant in last year's NCAA tournament, opening the event with a 1-0 victory over Colgate before losing 2-1 in overtime to UND.

"We're looking forward to the season," Serratore said. "This is a challenging schedule and certainly one that is exciting for us and for our fans."

BSU will be home for its conference openers as it welcomes Alaska-Fairbanks on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. The rest of the 2014 portion of the schedule sees the Beavers alternating home and road series. After heading to Mankato on Nov. 7-8, BSU will entertain Michigan Tech Nov. 14-15. A trip to Bowling Green is on the agenda for Nov. 21-22 and St. Cloud will pay a visit on Nov. 28-29.

December begins at Anchorage on Dec. 5-6 and the first half of the season will close Dec. 12-13 at home with Northern Michigan.

Home opponents in 2015 include Alabama-Huntsville (Jan. 9-10), Bowling Green (Jan. 30-31), Anchorage (Feb. 20-21) and Minnesota State (March 6-7).

The Beavers will also head to Lake Superior State (Jan. 16-17), Michigan Tech (Feb. 6-7), Northern Michigan (Feb. 13-14) and Ferris State (Feb. 27-28).

On Jan 23-24 the Beavers will travel to the North Star College Cup at the Xcel Center where they will face UMD on Friday and either the Gophers or Mavericks on Saturday.

"The North Star Challenge is one of the most competitive tournaments in the country and, with our fan base throughout the state and our large number of alumni in the Twin Cities, it will be very exciting to play at the Xcel Center," Serratore said.

The 28-game WCHA schedule also will bring out the best in every program and the coach is excited to see how the Beavers will compare with their league contemporaries.

"The bottom line is that we have a very competitive 28-game WCHA schedule," Serratore said. "You have to get on a bit of a run and have success at home if you want to succeed. Because of the geographic footprint and the fact that not many teams are in close proximity to each other, the teams that win at home have an advantage.

"And there is a fine line between winning and losing," Serratore continued. "Last year Ferris and Mankato separated themselves a bit but there wasn't much difference between 3 and 9."

BSU will begin practice on Oct. 4 and six days later will take on UND. That is not much time to prepare for an opponent which advanced to the NCAA semifinals a year ago.

"But playing UND that soon is exciting for the players," Serratore said. "It's a long season but these players are used to Junior hockey and a 60-game schedule and they want to play hockey games."

BSU Men's Hockey

Oct. 10 at UND 7:37 p.m.

Oct. 11 UND 7:07 p.m.

Oct. 24 at Minnesota 7 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Minnesota 7 p.m.

Oct. 31 Fairbanks* 7:37 p.m.

Nov. 1 Fairbanks* 7:07 p.m.

Nov. 7 at Minnesota St.* 7:07 p.m.

Nov. 8 at Minnesota St.* 7:07 p.m.

Nov. 14 Michigan Tech* 7:37 p.m.

Nov. 15 Michigan Tech* 7:37 p.m.

Nov. 21 at Bowling Green* 6:07 p.m.

Nov. 22 at Bowling Green* 6:07 p.m.

Nov. 28 St. Cloud 7:37 p.m.

Nov. 29 St. Cloud 7:07 p.m.

Dec. 5 at Anchorage* 10:07 p.m.

Dec. 6 at Anchorage* 10:07 p.m.

Dec. 12 Northern Michigan* 7:37 p.m.

Dec. 13 Northern Michigan* 7:07 p.m.

Jan. 9 Huntsville* 7:37 p.m.

Jan. 10 Huntsville* 7:07 p.m.

Jan. 16 at Lake Superior St.* 6:37 p.m.

Jan. 17 at Lake Superior St.* 6:07 p.m.

Jan. 23 N.Star Cup vs. UMD 4 p.m.

Jan. 24 N.Star Cup vs. Minn/Minn.St. TBD

Jan. 30 Bowling Green* 7:37 p.m.

Jan. 31 Bowling Green* 7:07 p.m.

Feb. 6 at Michigan Tech* 6:07 p.m.

Feb. 7 at Michigan Tech* 4:07 p.m.

Feb. 13 at Northern Michigan* 6:07 p.m.

Feb. 14 at Northern Michigan* 6:07 p.m.

Feb. 20 Anchorage* 7:37 p.m.

Feb. 21 Anchorage* 7:07 p.m.

Feb. 27 at Ferris St.* 6:07 p.m.

Feb. 28 at Ferris St.* 6:07 p.m.

March 6 Minnesota St.* 7:37 p.m.

March 7 Minnesota St.* 7:07 p.m.

March 13 WCHA Playoffs TBD

March 14 WCHA Playoffs TBD

March 15 WCHA Playoffs TBD

March 20 WCHA Final Five, Xcel TBD

March 21 WCHA Final Five, Xcel TBD

*-WCHA game

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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