WEEKEND RECAP: BSU scores four against St. Cloud; WCHA has rough showing in first full weekend; Shootouts are fun?

I’ll have more on this later in the week, but even though the Beavers didn’t pick up a win against St. Cloud State, BSU was happy with their performance against a Huskies team that many expected to roll them before the games last week.

The Beavers scored two goals in each game. Unfortunately for the Beavers, as BSU head coach Tom Serratore said during the weekly press conference Tuesday, “The first to three usually wins.” It was, really, much the same kind of series BSU played last season: Both the one-goal loss on Friday and the tie on Saturday after having a two goal lead. Both of those occurrences happened often last season.

“Offense right now is a work in progress for us, no question,” Serratore said. “But it was nice getting four goals. If we’d have chipped in a power play goal, we might have won one of those games.”

The Beavers rallied from a 2-0 deficit Friday night only to see the Huskies score a shorthanded goal that turned out to be the game-winner a 3-2 win; in that game the Beavers went 0-for-2 on the power play. Highlights here.

Saturday night, BSU had four chances on the power play and couldn’t convert. They settled for a 2-2 tie. See highlights here.

Conversely, SCSU scored a power play goal and a shorty Friday and another power play goal Saturday.

BSU had goals from sophomores Markus Gerbrandt and Cory Ward on Friday and tallies from sophomore Phil Brewer and freshman Nate Arentz Saturday. If you’re scoring at home, that’s three goals from the third line and one from the top line. If the Beavers want to score more goals they’ll need more production from that top line as well as some help from the second line — which has freshmen Brenden Harms and Phil Marinaccio playing with senior Jeff Jubinville. There will be a bit of a learning curve there, to be sure, so it will take some time.

But the Beavers, I think, are happy with how the offense played after just one weekend despite the “work in progress” tag.

WCHA has rough first weekend

We knew coming in that it wasn’t going to be easy.

And, although it’s just one weekend, it’s still hard to see more than one Western Collegiate Hockey Association team getting a bid to the NCAA tournament at the end of the season. At least, not after the nonconference results the league got this past weekend: WCHA teams went 5-10-3.

The wins included a Lake Superior State sweep of Robert Morris at home and Alaska-Anchorage knocking off defending national runners-up Quinnipiac as well as Air Force in their own tournament. Alaska also beat Air Force (a team that, due to the government shutdown, wasn’t sure if it was even going to be opening the season on time) earlier in that tournament.

The league went winless on the road (although Bemidji State, Bowling Green and Michigan Tech all picked up ties on Saturday).

Minnesota State — the lone ranked team in the league — got swept at Providence and didn’t look particularly good doing so. Alabama-Huntsville and Northern Michigan also got swept.

Some caveats: Ferris State didn’t play at all last weekend but they split with Colgate Oct. 7-8. They also beat Mercyhurst 3-2 on Tuesday.

Bowling Green, likewise, played on Tuesday and scored four straight goals to shock instate rivals Ohio State 4-3.

That puts the league’s overall record at 8-11-3 — which looks a little better. But this upcoming weekend will have to be better if the league wants to prove itself to the rest of the college hockey world.

That may be easier said than done, however: WCHA teams will be playing four ranked squads — including two in the top ten. Here’s the updated USCHO poll, with Miami a near-unanimous No. 1.

Bemidji State hosts No. 3 Minnesota at the Sanford Center, while Michigan Tech travels to No. 10 Notre Dame, Lake State will play at No. 16 Union and Alaska and Alaska Anchorage will both play No. 12 Denver in Alaska’s Goal Rush tournament.

Here’s the rest of this weekend’s slate of games:

Lake Superior State at Union
Colgate at Bowling Green
St. Lawrence at Ferris State
Nebraska Omaha at Northern Michigan
Michigan Tech at Notre Dame
Minnesota at Bemidji State
Connecticut at Minnesota State
Western Michigan vs Alaska Anchorage
Denver at Alaska

Players like shootouts

At the end of Saturday’s game between the Beavers and the Huskies, I was shocked when the teams stayed on the ice. As it turns out, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference will be using the shootout to determine ties in the conference standings. So will the Big Ten.

This isn’t a new thing: The now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association also used them to break ties, as does the women’s WCHA.

However, I wasn’t aware that the teams used them in nonconference play.

Apparently, the people in St. Cloud weren’t aware of this either. It took 10 minutes (or so it seemed — I was watching the video feed at the office) for the refs to explain the shootout rules to both benches.

Maybe former CCHA teams now in the NCHC and B1G won’t have as much of a learning curve but it sure seemed like most of the Huskies — players, coaches and fans — as well as the Beavers were a little confused by what was happening. I may have that from the video feed, but that’s what it looked like.

As it turns out, the Beavers won the shootout 3-2, with Radoslav Illo getting the final goal to capture the “victory”.

The shootout means absolutely nothing in the pairwise — it’s officially a tie — so for the Beavers it was more of a moral victory than anything, But talking to them Tuesday afternoon, the BSU players involved seemed to genuinely enjoy it.

Illo said scoring the last goal was a blast. The Beavers don’t usually practice shootouts — just at the end of practice Thursdays before a home game for fun — so he wasn’t really sure what to do. He didn’t do anything fancy — just a couple dekes before a forehand from the slot easily beat the Huskies goaltender.

BSU goalie Andrew Walsh likewise loved the shootout on Saturday.

“It was a blast.It’s good for the fans,” he said. “Going into the shootout I knew it didn’t count for us in the standings or points-wise so I kinda went into it with an open mind, just have fun. And we just had a great time with it. It was cool to see us score three goals and win. So it was a lot of fun.”

Because you play by the home team’s rules, BSU players will have one more chance to have some postgame fun. The Beavers play just one more nonconference game on the road — Jan. 18 at North Dakota.
Even though it won’t mean anything, part of me thinks given the chance to win a shootout in front of the 10,000 raucous fans in Grand Forks, the Beavers will take it. They better get practicing.

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