Men's CCHA Hockey

CCHA RinkRap: Bemidji Hockey Stumbles & Recovers

CCHA RinkRap: Bemidji Hockey Stumbles & Recovers

This week on RinkRap: a pair of century men assert their will, a Mark Twain quote is reborn and the growing reach of two Hungarian stars.

Dec 12, 2022 by Tim Rappleye
CCHA RinkRap: Bemidji Hockey Stumbles & Recovers

This week on RinkRap: a “disease” in Bemidji, a pair of century men assert their will, a Mark Twain quote is reborn, the growing reach of two Hungarian stars at Northern Michigan, and a crowded crease in Big Rapids. 

The Disease

On Friday night the Sanford Center in Bemidji resembled a morgue. Despite being presented with what appeared to be a gift-wrapped victory from Lake State, Tom Serratore’s Beavers tripped and then shot themselves in the foot, losing to Damon Whitten’s beleaguered Lakers in overtime.

“It’s a disease, that’s what it is,” muttered Serratore in the post-game, disgusted that his club had stumbled into overtime, coughing up a late-lead for the fourth time this season. BSU’s loyal announcers known as “Shultzie and Biz” echoed the term “disease” throughout the weekend. 

The cure came in the second period Saturday when fifth-year senior Ross Armour lit up the Lakers for two goals and a helper in Saturday’s second period. Behind Armour’s offensive heroics, Bemidji stormed off to an insurmountable 4-0 lead. This time, the Beavers held on for the 4-1 victory. Serratore claimed the third period was, “Good practice to close down games.”

The Century Men

France and Los Angeles are 6,000 miles apart, but players from those two regions have become stars in the CCHA, ringing up over a hundred points each in their respective careers. Both Louis Boudon (LSSU) and Andre Ghantous (Northern Michigan) carried their respective teams to victories this weekend. 

First the Frenchman, Boudon, senior captain of Lake State. With his Lakers trailing 2-0 Friday, he proceeded to set up three consecutive goals—career points 100, 101 and 102—to turn a defeat into a miraculous victory. Before thIs season, coach Whitten argued that Boudon was the top returning forward in the nation. The Grenoble-native made a compelling case with his four-point weekend.

The other century man who carried his club was Andre Ghantous of Northern Michigan. 

With freshman phenom Joey Larson on the mend back in Marquette, L.A.-native Ghantous carried the Wildcats to a 5-2 victory Saturday at Ferris State. He had two two killer snipes, dispelling the myth that he is strictly a pass-first performer. Ghantous then survived a painful mugging in the corner at the hands of Mitch Deelstra, getting off the mat to set up Kristof Papp’s power play dagger. The 5-foot-9 Ghantous was a giant Saturday. 

“He can be the best player in the league for stretches,” said Cats coach Grant Potulny.

Twain Lives

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” is a popular quote attributed to America’s premier author Mark Twain, and echoed again this weekend at Bowling Green. With the first-place Falcons eager to exploit the‌ vulnerable Minnesota State skaters, the Mavericks flipped the script. Minnesota State put on a puck-possession clinic for two games, sweeping Bowling Green in suffocating fashion, 2-1 and 6-2. 

Coach Mike Hastings’ formula of owning the puck in the attacking zone worked to perfection, as his Mavericks amassed 84 shots over the weekend, leapfrogging the Falcons back into first place in the CCHA. By doubling their opponents’ shot attempts, MNSU can overcome inferior save percentages. 

Freshman goaltender Alex Tracy shined, kicking out 93 percent of the shots he faced over the weekend, a winning formula for the resurgent Mavericks. Counting out the five-time reigning MacNaughton champs is risky business.

Budapest On The Great Lake

Hungarian native Chris Tatuska is an assistant coach for his daughter’s team in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Although the Tatuska’s live in the shadow of the University of Michigan, they have now become fans of Northern Michigan and the CCHA. The exploits of Hungarian Wildcats Beni Halasz and Kristof Papp are the reasons. 

While the Tatuska’s were playing a travel series in Traverse City, Northern Michigan was playing Ferris State 90 minutes down the road. On Saturday, both Halasz (26 saves) and Papp (2 goals) played starring roles for the victorious Cats. 

“My curiosity is sparked, I’m interested now, and I’ll start following them,” said Tatuska, who claims that hockey was a vital part of his culture while growing up in Hungary. 

The Wildcats have the only two Hungarians playing Division-I hockey, and their success is swaying hearts and minds in the hockey world.

Daniels & Ferris On The Threshold

Less than two years removed from a winless season, Ferris State is now one of four CCHA teams over .500. A major key to their success—which includes a recent 4-game winning streak—has been their goaltending. Both Noah Giesbrecht and Logan Stein have been solid for coach Bob Daniels, and he is intensely loyal to both. 

The pair have split duties in their past three series, Giesbrecht going 3-0 against the CCHA’s premier clubs. Stein, on the other hand, has gone 1-2 against the same clubs, including a troubled start versus Bowling Green in which he was chased after allowing six consecutive goals. Giesrecht defeated Northern Michigan Friday night, and was asked how he felt giving up the crease to his counterpart Stein the following night.

“It’s the coach’s decision at the end of the day,” said the reigning CCHA goaltender of the week. 

“Whatever they think is best, we’re going to go with that.” 

Daniels has never strayed from his plan to alternate his two goalies, but statistically, Giesbrecht is superior, giving up nearly one fewer goal per game. 

On Friday night, Daniels said that he hopes his Bulldogs can become a top-20 team. Ferris is now ranked 38th in the all-important Pairwise rankings. If the Bulldogs are going to make the difficult climb into a top-20 spot, they will need to choose their best horse, and ride him to another winning streak. 

Tim Rappleye has just written his third book, A Miracle of Their Own. He can be reached @TeeRaps