The end has no end: Thoughts on Bemidji State’s season

BSU actually ended its season two weeks ago at Ferris State but I’ve been neglecting the blog. And, as we know, a college hockey writer’s job never ends, even when the season does. I just needed a few days to process the end of BSU’s season.

Anyway, I plan on having a few more thoughts in the paper later this week — I just had a good talk with head coach Tom Serratore recapping the season and sort of looking forward to next — but I thought with the NCAA tournament starting up this weekend I’d get a few things up here before everyone forgets about BSU for a while (if they haven’t already).

-The Beavers finished with a 10-21-7 record. Not great, but they nearly doubled their win total from 2012-13 (when they were 6-22-8). All 10 wins this season came in WCHA play. Last season the Beavers got one win from current WCHA foe Lake Superior State, which was in the CCHA at the time.

-One thing to note: The Beavers were 2-12-2 against NCAA tournament teams.

That doesn’t look great but it also points to just how tough BSU’s schedule was. Nearly half of schedule (16 out of 38 games) made the tournament.

That’s two conference teams (Ferris State and Minnesota State) as well as three out of BSU’s four nonconference opponents (Minnesota, St. Cloud State and North Dakota… Miami didn’t make the tournament despite being a preseason No. 1 but nearly won the NCHC tournament).

-BSU’s scoring went up this season.

Last year the Beavers averaged 2.1 goals per game. This year that number went up slightly, to 2.6. Opponents goals-per-game numbers, however, stayed exactly the same — 3.1 goals a game.

I think this has something to do with the fact that the Beavers found more scoring from underclassmen — something it lacked a season ago.

Brance Orban was the only Beaver who had more than 20 points in 2012-12 — 23 points, with just nine goals.

This year four Beavers had 20-plus points. Three were underclassmen. That’s two sophomores (Cory Ward and Markus Gerbrandt) and a freshman (Brendan Harms) along with junior Matt Prapavessis.

That’s an encouraging number for BSU. Last year they lost five of their 10 double-digit scorers to graduation. This season BSU also had 10 guys in double-digits but only two — Radoslav Illo and Jeff Jubinville — are seniors. (This assuming nobody else on the team leaves early, which I can’t forsee.)

-The BSU penalty kill finished the regular season ranked No. 8 in the country. It was generally outstanding, save a few hiccups near the end of the season (against Mankato and Bowling Green).

-The power play, on the other hand, was a mess in the last quarter of the season. The Beavers scored just one power play goal in the last 10 games (against Alabama-Huntsville). And they had their chances — 35 of them — in their last 10 games. For those scoring at home that’s 2 percent.

That will have to improve, especially after it was so good early in the season. Luckily, power play stalwarts Prapavessis, Ward, Gerbrandt and Ruslan Pedan should be back. Hopefully they can get the kinks out.

I’ll have more in the paper later this week, I just thougt I’d run down those stats for you before the NCAA Tournament started.

-Also, for what it’s worth, I picked Minnesota, Ferris, Union and Boston College for the Frozen Four. That Ferris pick may be wishful thinking, since I think the Midwest Region is the toughest in the tournament with Ferris, Colgate, North Dakota and Wisconsin. But it would be cool to see the Bulldogs go back to the Frozen Four for the second time in three years.

Plus, I want to see them take on the Gophers. Colgate prevented that matchup from happening earlier in the season by beating the Gophers in a shootout during the Mariucci Classic, so it would be fun to see if the Bulldogs can hold their own against the top team in the nation.

That said, Colgate is no pushover — they beat Ferris two out of the three times they played in the regular season.

As for Mankato, they got a tough draw, taking on UMass-Lowell in the first round in Lowell’s backyard (Worcester, Mass.). I’m not sure I can see them getting out of the first round but even if they do, BC and Johhny Gaudreau will likely be waiting for them in the regional finals.

(However, should both Ferris and Mankato win and make the Frozen Four, it would be a nice gesture to the rest of those in college hockey who call the WCHA “dead,” so that would be really fun to watch.)

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