Bemidji's real test still ahead

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The University of North Dakota series isn't the biggest Western Collegiate Hockey Association battle for Bemidji State this month.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The University of North Dakota series isn't the biggest Western Collegiate Hockey Association battle for Bemidji State this month.

In two weeks, the league will vote whether to lift its current moratorium on expansion - a vote that could possibly determine the future of the Bemidji State program.

Bemidji State has been actively seeking membership in the WCHA since the demise of its league, College Hockey America.

Since 2004, Findlay (Ohio) and Wayne State (Mich.) have dropped their men's hockey programs and Air Force left for Atlantic Hockey. That has dropped the CHA down to four teams for this season, leaving the league and its members in flux.

In November, the WCHA added to its meeting agenda a vote on whether to lift the moratorium. The league meetings will take place Jan. 14-17 in Washington. All 10 WCHA schools will vote.


Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said he doesn't know what to expect.

"We hear a lot of different things," he said. "It's just one of those processes that you have to go through and that's where we are at right now."

Should the WCHA lift the moratorium, Bemidji State could present an application for admission as early as April. That's when college hockey coaches and administrators meet annually in Florida.

While the vote is in the back of their mind, Serratore said the program's main priority is finding consistency in the second half of this season.

The Beavers (8-8) started the season 1-6 but are 7-2 since. During the first seven games, the Beavers allowed an average of 4.5 goals per game. Since, they are allowing 1.66 goals per game.

"We've been somewhat offensively challenged this season," Serratore said. "I don't know if we are stingy defensively, but we have been getting some good goaltending (the Beavers will play sophomore Matt Dalton tonight and senior Orlando Alamano on Saturday).

"I would like to see us get more balance to our game. We feel we have not been consistent in our shifts. We haven't had four, five, six shifts sustained with a lot of puck pressure. We're working hard to address that. We're trying to get back to our style and that's a puck pressure team that swarms all over the ice."

If UND can get to three this weekend, it should be in good shape.


When the Sioux score three or more goals this season, they are 9-1. When they don't, they are 0-9-1. When the Beavers allow three or more goals, they are 0-8. When they don't, they are 8-0.

UND's last three losses have all been 2-1 games. Had the Sioux got to three in those games, they'd be on an eight-game winning streak right now.

They are at 9-10-1, though, and looking to close the nonconference portion of the schedule on the right foot. The Sioux are 3-5 in non-league play - a mark that will make earning an NCAA berth difficult.

"They are huge games," sophomore Evan Trupp said. "We need to end nonconference on a good note. Everyone in the locker room knows that. We're striving for four points this weekend. Nothing less."

The Grand Forks Herald and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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