BEMIDJI -- Warm weather awaits the Bemidji State men’s hockey team south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Fresh off a sweep of Ferris State, the Beavers will trade in winter coats and long johns for T-shirts and shorts as they travel to Alabama Huntsville for a Thursday-Friday series this week.
“We’re excited for this road trip,” said sophomore defenseman Darby Gula, who’ll be making his first trip to Huntsville. “The boys say it’s one of the better ones of the year. You get to experience some warm weather. … We were looking at the (weather) app earlier and it said 50s-60s (for high temperatures), maybe rain. I’ll take that over snow.”
The team will be functioning on a shorter week than usual with the series opener coming on Thursday, though that doesn’t much bother head coach Tom Serratore.
“Quite honestly for the players, it’s not that big a transition,” he said. “It’s probably tougher for the coaches. But it’s also tougher for the Huntsville coaches. … We just have to put a little bit more office time in and watch a little bit more video earlier in the week than we normally do. But it’s also the second half of the year and we’ve seen a lot of different structures.”
BSU opened the back half of the league schedule last weekend with a sweep over FSU, claiming wins of 5-2 and 4-1.
On Saturday, the power play matched the prowess of the Beavers’ top-ranked penalty kill by scoring three times on the man advantage, two off the stick of Adam Brady.
“Obviously our power play has been doing well lately and our PK is up there in the national rankings as well, which is awesome to see,” Gula said. “But I think PK, we do watch a lot of video on our details. It’s just been getting so good. Our killers are pretty experienced so that’s been helping us out a lot. And then on the power play, it just seems like our guys are getting more comfortable.”
In their first meeting back in November, Bemidji State (10-7-3, 10-3-1-0 WCHA) swept Alabama Huntsville (1-16-3, 1-10-3-1 WCHA) at the Sanford Center and outscored UAH 12-3, including a 7-0 shutout.
More recently, the Chargers held their own in a matchup of the first- and 60th-ranked teams in the Pairwise on the road against North Dakota last weekend. UAH took an early 1-0 lead Friday and came back to tie both games of the series at 2-all in the second period, though UND won 5-2 each night.
“I think they’re kind of coming into their own,” Serratore said of the Chargers. “They’re a pretty young team and I think that first half of the year you’re trying to get a lot of your puzzle pieces together. … I think that’s what they did the first half and I think right now they’re a confident group.”
Puck drop is set for 7:37 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
Family in attendance for Gula’s 1st goal
Darby Gula’s family was in the building to witness his first collegiate goal last Friday.
The sophomore blueliner gave the Beavers a 2-0 lead with his goal off a faceoff at the 7:24 mark of the first period.
“It felt good. It maybe wasn’t the nicest goal,” Gula said. “It kind of hit their defender right in front of me in the high slot and deflected and made its way to the low blocker side.”
Hailing from Steinbach, Manitoba, Gula’s goal was his first point of the season in 12 games. His family was glad to be there for the moment.
“I was a bit surprised it went in, but obviously (I’m) not complaining: home crowd, my parents and grandma were there watching,” he said. “They were pumped they could see that.”
At a glance
Who: BSU at Alabama Huntsville
Where: Huntsville, Ala.
When: 7:37 p.m. Thursday, Friday
Radio: Beaver Radio Network/92.1 FM