Seeking Full Time
Bemidji State Trying to Improve Part-Time Performance
Following last week's split with Princeton, Bemidji State kept their record at an even 5-5-2, just .500 and summarizing the team’s even season so far. The Beavers have skated in a seesaw season of wins and losses.
“It’s hard to put a finger on it,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “It’s hard to sweep in college hockey and obviously the team that loses on Friday they just seem to have more desperation. It’s so important that you have to respond to that.”
Conference play has hampered the Beavers — they are 2-3-1, which has them tied for last in the WCHA. The team is struggling to find consistency just one season after the Beavers went 22-16-3 en-route to a WCHA regular-season title.
The Beavers are still skating well, fielding a fast team that even played well in the loss to Princeton. They even struck first on the night, marking just the second time all season Bemidji State has done that.
“We had a pretty good [Friday] night [in the loss], but again I think you also got to give credit to the other team,” Serratore said.
But the Beavers have not strung together a winning streak all season. The best was a three-game unbeaten streak to start the year. They split with Alaska and Air Force, dropped two games to Minnesota State, and defeated Minnesota-Duluth and Ferris State just once.
“We had 60 pretty good minutes of hockey. I couldn’t ask more of our guys, but you got to find a way. You just have to find a way,” Serratore said. “How do you find a way? Sometimes you have to get a little puck luck, but you also have to make sure that if you win on Friday, you always have to dig a little deeper because they are. You just have to try to match that intensity.”
The Beavers are nearly even in the scoring margin as well, scoring 2.92 goals per game and allowing 3.00. Gerry Fitzgerald leads the team with 13 points while Kyle Bauman and Jay Dickman have six goals each. Michael Bitzer has started all but one game this year, posting a .897 save percentage.
Bitzer, now a senior, has been the team’s leading netminder since his freshman season, when he posted a .929 save percentage. Last year his save percentage was .932, the best of his career. Bauman, meanwhile, is on pace to equal his scoring output from last season.
Despite Bitzer’s lower save percentage, the Beavers have rarely lost by a large margin this season. Bemidji State has only lost by three or more goals three times, with a 5-1 loss to Air Force, a 4-1 loss to Princeton and a 5-2 loss to Minnesota State. Outside of Minnesota State, all of those series ended in splits.
Even Bemidji State’s Pariwise is middle of the pack, currently 34th. But while the Beavers don’t quite know the reason for their inconsistency, the team has over half the season to string together wins and climb out of the WCHA cellar.
“It’s not working on anything, it’s all a mindset. So much of hockey’s a mindset,” Serratore said. “We just have to get the job done. … You can’t be a part-time team, you can’t be a Friday night team and not a Saturday night team. You have to put back-to-backs together. The teams that win championships put back to back nights together so we got to figure that out."