Bemidji States Stifling Defense Faces Tough Test In No. 2 St. Cloud State


Bemidji State might have a short highlight reel this season, but the Beavers’ conservative style has made for tight, low-scoring contests en route to a 5-2-1 start. 

This time last season, the Beavers sat 4-4-2, simultaneously scoring and allowing 2.9 goals per game, which seems thrilling compared to 2018-19. In their eight games this year, there has been an unbelievable 29 total tallies. That’s total — between two teams.

That means in games featuring Bemidji State this season, there’s an average of just 3.6 total goals scored. Beavers coach Tom Serratore’s defensive approach doesn’t make for an action-packed 60 minutes, but he says his team “obviously get[s] evaluated on scoring goals and winning games.”

In the end, it’s results that count. Defense has carried the Beavers to a 5-2-1 record, including a 3-1 mark in conference play. The system is working in the bigger picture, but competition ramps up in the next two weeks. That competition includes No. 2 St. Cloud State (9-1) this weekend and WCHA foe No. 3 Minnesota State (7-1) the next. Those are two heavy offensive teams that have scored 42 and 33 goals, respectively.

Serratore’s defensive structure will need to be pristine against such dangerous talent, as the 11 goals allowed through eight games could realistically double over the next two series. Serratore will likely focus on finding more consistent offense over the next two weeks as the team’s two losses were 1-0 shutouts when you remove Northern Michigan’s two empty-net tallies on Oct. 26.

“We need to pick it up offensively. We know that,” Serratore told Austin Monteith of The Duluth News Tribune ahead of last week’s matchup with Merrimack. “Offense is very difficult. It comes in spurts. But right now I think early in the year with a young forward group, our defensive corps has really played the way they’re supposed to play.”

With eight of the Beavers’ 18 total goals coming the next day during an 8-3 thrashing of Merrimack, Serratore likely wore out the game tape prior during this week. It showed the deep offense the Beavers can have, as 14 different players recording at least a point.

Moreover, Serratore will need to rekindle the power play success from last season, which capitalized on 21.7 percent of chances. Early on this year, the Beavers have scored just four goals with the man advantage in 28 attempts (14.2 percent).

“Special teams is always a work in progress,” Serratore added.

Don’t miss the Beavers take on No. 2 St. Cloud State this weekend after a two-year hiatus between the in-state rivals. BSU holds a 46-45-5 overall record on St. Cloud but has gone just 4-24-3 during the teams’ last 31 matchups. Catch Friday’s game LIVE right here on FloHockey.

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.

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