BEMIDJI — With the power play struggling, Bemidji State head men’s hockey coach Tom Serratore is using a lesson from a veteran NHL coach as encouragement.
During a road trip to Detroit to play Wayne State around 2006 or 2007, Serratore said, he and former longtime assistant Bert Gilling watched the Red Wings’ opponent take their morning skate. Who else walked up the stands to introduce himself but then-Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who invited the BSU coaches to the locker room to talk hockey.
“And he was explaining at that particular time their power play was really struggling,” Serratore recalled this week. “He said, ‘I had the most talented team in the world.’ When you think of those guys, that was the heyday of (Nicklas) Lidstrom, (Pavel) Datsyuk, (Henrik) Zetterberg, (Kris) Draper. It goes on and on.”
Despite all that star power, which collectively went on to hoist the Stanley Cup in 2008, Detroit’s power play was still lagging. Serratore asked Babcock, now head coach of the Maple Leafs, how that could be.
“He goes, ‘Some guys don’t want to share the puck and some guys don’t want to go get the puck,’” Serratore said. “My point is that it’s not all skill. Everyone thinks the power play is skill. You’ve got to outwork your opponent, you’ve got to get the puck, you’ve got to try to keep the puck and you’ve still got to make skilled plays off puck recovery. But that’s stuck with me when Mike Babcock said that to us.”
Serratore shared that story with his team this week as the Beavers try to light a spark under a power-play unit that had begun the season with only one goal in 17 opportunities through six games.
“I just think that we have to really simplify our power play a little bit,” Serratore said. “You just have to let good things happen by working hard and working smart.”
BSU split its first WCHA series last weekend at Alaska, winning 4-0 Friday before going 0-for-7 on the man advantage in a 3-1 loss Saturday.
“That is a big struggle the past weekend and why I don’t think we succeeded both games,” junior forward Charlie Combs said. “I think we’re just kind of going back to the drawing board, laying out new power-play structures and maybe giving some other guys some looks.”
Rosén nets first career goal
Much was made of Bemidji State’s young defensive corps going into the season. Two of the four freshmen blueliners have already scored their first collegiate goals with Elias Rosén joining Nick Leitner in that department.
Rosén, a native of Mora, Sweden, buried a rebound for the Beavers’ lone goal in Saturday’s loss. The 20-year-old defenseman recorded 18 points (6g-12a) in 51 games with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm last season.
“It’s been kind of hard,” Rosén said of adjusting to the college game, “but I’ve come into it easy with the teammates I have. Everyone is cheering me along. The older guys like (Tommy Muck) and (Tyler Vold) and everyone like that has helped me a lot in developing my game in college hockey.”
Lakers come to town
BSU (1-3-2, 1-1-0-0 WCHA) returns to the Sanford Center this weekend for its first home series in a month against Lake Superior State. The Lakers (4-6-0, 2-0-0-0 WCHA) ended the Beavers’ season last March with a two-game sweep in the WCHA quarterfinals.
Following a six-game losing streak during a tough stretch of games against Denver, Michigan and Notre Dame, LSSU opened league play with a sweep of Ferris State last weekend.
Lake State has scored 32 goals in their first 10 games, tied for the most in the WCHA. The Lakers boast three forwards among the league’s top five scorers: sophomore Ashton Calder and Hampus Eriksson with 11 points each, and senior Max Humitz with 10. Senior defenseman Collin Saccoman leads the team with six goals.
“They’ve got a lot of returning players who can play,” Serratore said. “They’ve got a talented defensive corps and they’ve got their share of forwards who can score goals.”
If you go
Who: BSU vs. Lake Superior State
Where: Sanford Center
When: 7:07 p.m. Friday; 6:07 p.m. Saturday
Radio: Beaver Radio Network/92.1 FM