MEN'S HOCKEY: Beavers enter first bye week searching for more offense
Hockey is weird. This goes without saying -- a game in which people on sharp metal points chase around a small rubber thing is, inherently, going to be unpredictable. A team can often dominate the other and still come up empty. Anyone who dispute...
Hockey is weird.
This goes without saying - a game in which people on sharp metal points chase around a small rubber thing is, inherently, going to be unpredictable.
A team can often dominate the other and still come up empty.
Anyone who disputes this should take it up with the Bemidji State men’s team.
The Beavers out-shot and out-chanced Northern Michigan in both games of their WCHA series last weekend in Marquette, Mich., putting up 81 shots on NMU goaltender Atte Tolvanen on the weekend.
If you didn’t know the final scores of last weekend’s games, you can probably guess where this one is going: Tolvanen stopped 80 of those shots and the Beavers came away with just one conference point from the weekend. They skated to a scoreless tie on Friday before losing 3-1 on Saturday.
BSU senior center Cory Ward put it best.
“I don’t think we did a lot poorly,” he said. “But if you get one goal on a weekend, you’re not going to win.”
Ward scored the Beavers’ only goal on the weekend - a first-period power play strike that gave them the early lead. But that was all the Beavers managed in 125 minutes of game time.
“All the guys were saying, ‘One’s going to go in, one’s going to go in,’” Ward said. “Sometimes you run into a hot goalie, but there’s a lot of other factors in the game that we didn’t capitalize on. From an offensive standpoint, there’s positives and negatives. How many shots we got, we had a lot of chances, but it doesn’t really matter how many chances you have unless you score.”
That’s why the Beavers are glad to have this weekend off - their first bye week since the start of the season. After the week off, they host Alaska Nov. 13-14 at the Sanford Center.
“It’s just tough to generate offense right now for us,” junior winger Brendan Harms said. “That happens throughout the season. But I think it’s just nice to get into a break and just focus what we need to work on.”
If they want to improve on their 1-4-2 overall record - and get that elusive first WCHA win in four games so far - the Beavers will need to find more even-strength offense.
So far the power play has been deadly - they’ve scored eight goals in 31 chances (25.8 percent), best in the WCHA. But BSU has scored just 14 goals total - worst in the conference.
And since scoring seven goals in their first two games - a 3-2 win over Minnesota Duluth and a 4-4 tie with North Dakota - the Beavers have managed just seven goals in the five games since.
Obviously, it’s still early in the season and the sample size is small. And the Beavers have generally played much, much better than their single victory might show.
“I think we’ve been playing pretty well,” Harms said. “Our record doesn’t show that but there’s some little things that have cost us some games and we need to clean them up. If we continue to work and play the way we are, we’re going to get some more wins.”
Harms, Ward and the Beavers have some experience with this: Last season the team lost seven straight games in the month of November, all against top 20 teams. They rebounded late in the season and went on a seven-game unbeaten streak in February and March to earn home ice advantage in the WCHA playoffs.
Ward, a senior, has been around long enough to know it’s not worth getting worried about a tough stretch early in a season.
“In the past couple years here, you really learn that you’re going to go through tough times,” he said. “And the teams that end up learning how to win battle that adversity. They find the positives and stick to the same gameplan when they’re playing well but aren’t successful.”