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MEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers balancing playoff prep, senior weekend festivities

The Bemidji State men’s hockey team hasn’t had a whole lot to celebrate in recent weeks.

020922.S.BP.BSUMHKY Ethan Somoza.jpg
Bemidji State senior Ethan Somoza (9) follows the puck in the first period against Northern Michigan on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI – The Bemidji State men’s hockey team hasn’t had a whole lot to celebrate in recent weeks.

The Beavers have lost eight of their last nine games, dropping their record from 13-10 to 14-18, including a precipitous drop from 11-4 in CCHA play to 12-12.

But in the final weekend of the regular season, they have a golden opportunity to straighten some things out before the playoffs start. BSU will host last-place St. Thomas and will also have a chance to honor its seniors during its last regular-season home weekend.

“It's all about our seniors,” head coach Tom Serratore said. “That's what it’s about. It's their weekend, and hopefully we have a good weekend.”

One of those seniors, fifth-year forward Ethan Somoza, didn’t necessarily think he would be returning at the end of last season.

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“I kind of went through the same process last year, kind of thinking it was coming to an end,” Somoza said. “And then I ended up taking my fifth year. But yeah, just a ton of great memories here at BSU. I wouldn't want to change anything that I've done here. I've had just such a good time, and hopefully we can push this thing out as far as we possibly can.”

In order to do so, it would behoove the Beavers to have a strong showing against St. Thomas. Serratore doesn’t like the word momentum, as he thinks it’s too cliched, but he does think that Bemidji State should strive to play its best as it gears up for the CCHA playoffs.

“To me, it's more about confidence and being dialed in and those types of things,” Serratore said. “There's no question you want to be playing good hockey going into the playoffs. There's no question about that. But part of it is just worrying about us.”

When focusing on themselves, the Beavers have found a number of positive developments. Translating them to the ice this weekend would give them hope that they can make a deep run through the conference tournament.

“We're doing a lot of good things right,” Serratore said. “And I'm happy with that. There's certain parts of our game that we've really worked on the last couple of weeks, and we like where we're at.”

BSU currently sits in pole position for the No. 3 seed in the CCHA playoffs. Depending on results this weekend, they could remain as high as No. 3 or fall as low as No. 6. Nos. 1 (Minnesota State), 2 (Michigan Tech), 7 (Ferris State) and 8 (St. Thomas) are the four seeds that have been officially clinched.

Bemidji State has 37 points, while Lake Superior State and Bowling Green share a tie for fourth with 33. Northern Michigan sits in sixth place with 32 points.

A regulation win in either game this weekend will guarantee the Beavers the third spot.

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But beyond seeding concerns, this series offers BSU an opportunity to cherish a feel-good moment in a season that has sometimes been bereft of them.

“It's a fun celebration this weekend,” Somoza said. “Kind of just celebrating the guys who have been through it and been here for four or five years together now. It's a really fun weekend to be a part of.”

The Beavers face off with the Tommies at 7:07 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25, and 6:07 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Sanford Center.

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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