Men's hockey: Serratore reflects on a banner regular season

The Bemidji State men's hockey team will hang yet another banner in the rafters of the John Glas Fieldhouse, following the Beavers impressive 2007-8 College Hockey America regular season title.

The Bemidji State men's hockey team will hang yet another banner in the rafters of the John Glas Fieldhouse, following the Beavers impressive 2007-8 College Hockey America regular season title.

And on Saturday the team starts its quest for another, beginning play in the CHA playoffs.

"The season so far from a league standpoint has been most gratifying," said BSU head coach Tom Serratore. "Coming into the season, first and foremost, we wanted to win the regular season league title and hang a banner - especially considering we came up one game short the last two years. As a program we place a big emphasis on winning championships - that's a major part of our history and tradition. It's important to carry that tradition forward each year.

"All the banners hanging in the Fieldhouse are a huge selling point for our program. It gives the players ownership not only while they are players, but also when they come back in future years. They can look in the rafters and be proud of being part of a championship team. It's a significant part of what we do here as a program."

The Beavers ended the regular season with a CHA record of 13-4-3 (29 points) with Niagara sec-ond at 12-6-2 (26 points) and Robert Morris third (10-7-3, 23 points). The Beavers ended with a winning record against every team in the league (Niagara (2-1-1), Robert Morris (2-1-1), Wayne State (4-2-0) and Alabama-Huntsville (5-0-1).


Serratore said he was most pleased with how the Beavers accomplished the title. "We did it the right way," he said, "with strong goaltending, special teams and defense - what you need to win championships."

A look at the league statistics bear out Serratore's comments. The Beavers led the league in goals allowed, giving up only 39 in 20 league games. The 39 goals allowed is a league record since the CHA went to a 20 game schedule. Niagara holds the all-time record with 18 goals allowed in 17 games during the inaugural CHA season in 1999-2000.

Senior goalie Matt Climie also posted lofty numbers in league games. He ended first in goals against average at 1.78 (fourth all-time), first in winning percentage .750 (12-3-3), first in shutouts with five (second all-time) and second in save percentage at .927 - just .008 behind league leader Juliano Pagliero.

On special teams, the Beavers led the league in penalty kill - allowing only eight goals in 98 chances (91.8 percent), a figure that places second all-time. The Beavers also led the league in combined special teams and special teams net.

On the power play, BSU also impressed during league play, ending at 29.2 percent to finish first in the CHA. It also places second all-time in the league. The Beavers tied Niagara in scoring offense with 71 goals.

Everything wasn't all good news for the Beavers on the year, however, according to Serratore. "We struggled a bit the second half of the year and gave up a lot more goals," he said. "We allowed 1.9 per game the first half and 2.7 the second. But then we also increased our scoring during that time, going from 2.3 goals per game scored to 3.4. That tends to happen - a team begins to score more but then allows more goals too."

One statistic that is a cause for concern with Serratore is shots allowed. During the first half of the season the Beavers allowed only 22 shots per game. That number grew to 28 shots per game in the second half of the season.

"That's a lot," Serratore reported. "For example, during our last series with Wayne State we gave up way too many shots - we need to rectify that."


In terms of the non-conference schedule, the Beavers ended 1-9 against teams from the WCHA. Of the 10 games, seven were on the road with only three at home.

"No doubt we struggled with the WCHA teams," Serratore reported. "But, of the nine games we lost, five were one goal games and two were two goal games. In one-half of the games we played we outshot the other team.

"There were positives, but the end result just was not there. We would have liked to do better against those teams, no doubt. But considering the great teams we played on the road that's easier said than done."

Looking back at the WCHA schedule, Serratore recalled the Beavers had goals disallowed in a pair of games, goals that were later ruled to be good goals. "We had one in St. Cloud that would have put us up 1-0 (in a 2-1 loss)," he said, "and one against Mankato at home (in a 1-0 loss). Who knows what those games would have been like?"

Overall, Serratore reported the 2007-08 season has been extremely gratifying thus far.

"We dealt with a lot of obstacles and the guys showed a great deal of resiliency through it all," he said. "The players were very professional with how they handled things

"These were certainly not the easiest circumstances to play or coach under this season - to say the least."

The Beavers begin their quest for the CHA playoff title and McLeod Cup Saturday at 1 p.m. in Niagara Falls, N.Y. BSU will play the winner of Friday's play-in game between Wayne State and Alabama-Huntsville. Saturday's second game pits Niagara against Robert Morris. The winners will square off Sunday for the title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

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