MEN’S HOCKEY: Despite Kyle Looft’s heroics, Beavers drop opener to Ferris State
Not only did the Bemidji State men’s hockey defenseman score a goal, he may also have prevented one by himself.
BEMIDJI -- Kyle Looft had himself quite a game on Friday night at the Sanford Center.
Not only did the Bemidji State men’s hockey defenseman score a goal, he may also have prevented one himself, astutely blocking a Ferris State shot with a hand pass to help keep the Bulldogs out of BSU’s net.
Unfortunately for Looft, the rest of the Beavers had trouble getting into the FSU net, which ultimately doomed them in a 2-1 loss.
Bemidji State played one man – or coach – short on Friday, as head coach Tom Serratore missed the game because of COVID-19 protocols. He has been away from the team since Tuesday and will not coach Saturday night against the Bulldogs.
Assistant coach Travis Winter filled the void and acted as the Beavers’ head coach. He didn’t like what he saw.
“I just thought we were overpassing and passing up shots,” Winter said. “Trying to make too many plays around the blue lines instead of getting pucks behind their defensemen and playing behind them and putting pressure on them. We got to play more linear, more north, more direct.”
Looft got Bemidji State (13-12, 11-6 CCHA) started right away with a goal 3:17 into the game off assists from Alex Adams and Sam Solensky to put the Beavers up 1-0. That lead held into intermission as BSU continued to put pressure on Ferris State (8-17, 6-11 CCHA).
“Loofty, I thought he had pretty good legs tonight,” Winter said. “He was up in the rush a couple different times as a second wave and even a first wave once or twice. So he's got the ability to do that. He's got a heavy shot, and when he can get his shot off, he can generate offense for us as well.”
But in the second period, it was the Bulldogs who applied the pressure. Dallas Tulik scored at 15:13 in the second after significant zone time for FSU, tying it up 1-1 and putting the pressure back on the Beavers.
“That second period was a big difference-maker for us,” said goaltender Mattias Sholl. “Just wasn't a good second period.”
Despite a number of grade-A chances in the third period, BSU couldn’t capitalize, and it cost them down the stretch. Kaleb Ergang scored amid traffic around the net at 18:52 to give Ferris State a late lead it would not surrender.
“We have the expectations to come out and we play hard. That's Beaver hockey, right?” Looft said. “Tonight, we didn't do that. We didn't work hard. They outworked us, credit to them. They're a good hockey team. If you come out and play like we did tonight against any team, that's the result we're going to get.”
It was an odd week of preparation for Bemidji State without its head coach. Although much stayed the same, with Serratore in constant contact with his staff via Zoom and other remote methods, the Beavers missed his energy and personality.
“Obviously, having your head coach out isn't ideal,” Looft said. “He brings a lot of energy to the room. I mean, he's been around for 20-plus years as the head coach here. He's a huge part of our team. But honestly, all the other coaches do a great job too. So we can't make that an excuse.”
BSU will have less than 24 hours to flip the script before facing Ferris once again at 6:07 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22, at the Sanford Center.