BSU set to defend CHA title; start with UAH
Bemidji State's quest to defend its College Hockey America tournament title and return to the NCAA tourney begins tonight in Detroit, Mich. The Beavers (18-13-3, 12-7-1 CHA) will face rival Alabama-Huntsville (19-12-2, 12-7-1 CHA) in one semifina...
Bemidji State's quest to defend its College Hockey America tournament title and return to the NCAA tourney begins tonight in Detroit, Mich.
The Beavers (18-13-3, 12-7-1 CHA) will face rival Alabama-Huntsville (19-12-2, 12-7-1 CHA) in one semifinal set for 6:35 p.m. UAH, the tourney's third seed, advanced with a 3-1 win over Wayne State Friday.
Regular season champ and top seed Niagara University will take on Robert Morris, who advanced with a thrilling 4-3 quarterfinal win over Air Force Friday, in the afternoon quarterfinal.
Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore reported he's excited for the tournament to start and to face the archrival Chargers.
"This is the fifth game of the series for this season," he said. "They got us twice after we played pretty well in Alabama. Then we took it to them pretty good last weekend.
"This is going to be the deciding game of the series. We'll find out who's the better team."
It's been a case of sweeps between the Chargers and Beavers this year. Bemidji State fell 2-1 and 4-2 at UAH Feb. 3-4. The Beavers then returned the favor last weekend, topping the Chargers 3-1 and 5-0.
It was a huge sweep for the Beavers who needed to win both by a three goal margin to finish second in the CHA regular season and gain a first round bye in the tournament. The Beavers responded with a dominating performance.
"We had a really good week of practice coming into that series," Serratore said, "and it carried over into the weekend. Now, we've had another good week of practice. I like the mentality of the team entering the tournament and I'm feeling really good about our chances."
The Beavers enter the tournament in good shape physically. They also have the most experienced group of seniors in the tournament field -- having played in the CHA tournament final the last three years.
"I believe the experience of playing in big games helps," Serratore reported. "These guys have been looking at championship banners hanging in The Glas every day the last four years.
"They know what high expectations are placed on them from the program and the community. They now have a chance to hang a banner of their own in their senior year. They have a chance to go out in a big way."
The Beavers enter the tournament riding the high of the strong performance to end the regular season and the return to the line up of all the regular BSU players.
"We have our share of bumps and bruises, just like everybody else," Serratore said. "But we're relatively healthy and should have everyone set to go - pretty much our entire line up."
That would mean junior forward Shane Holman returning after sitting out last weekend, along with Garrett Roth - who missed last Saturday's game.
Statistically, the Beavers hold the edge in most major categories in the UAH comparison. BSU has scored an average of 3.4 goals per game, while allowing a league leading 2.6. UAH has scored at a 3.1 average, while also allowing 3.1 per game.
The Beaver power play has been successful 18 percent of the time, while UAH is at 16.5 percent. On the penalty kill, BSU has 86.3 percent efficiency, while UAH operates at 81.6 percent.
Senior Bruce Mulherin paces the Chargers offensively with 33 points on 15 gals and 18 assists. No other Charger finished in double figures in the goal department.
Senior Scott Munroe anchors the net for UAH, ending the regular season with a 16-10-2 record. He featured a .914 save percentage and 3.05 goals against average.
The Beavers feature balanced scoring with nine players ending the regular season with 20 points or more. Junior Luke Erickson paces the team in total points with 33 (15 goals and 18 assists). Junior Ryan Miller paced BSU in goals with 16, while junior Rob Sirianni had 15 and Jean-Guy Gervais 10.
Junior Layne Sedevie took over as the top BSU goalie, winning both games in the UAH sweep. He ended the regular season with a record of 10-6-1, featuring a sterling .917 save percentage and 2.36 goals against average.
What will it take for the Beavers to repeat as CHA Tournament champions? There were no secret answers from Serratore as he echoed what he has said all year.
"We need to do the little things well," he said, "play at a high energy level, get good special teams play, strong goaltending and minimize our mistakes. We do those things and I like our chances."
Robert Morris def. Air Force 4-3
Ala.-Huntsville def. Wayne State 3-1
Niagara (19-14-1) vs. Robert Morris (12-19-3), 2:35 p.m.
Bemidji State (18-13-3) vs. Ala.-Huntsville (19-12-2), 6:35 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 2:05 p.m.