Looking to dam up the Beavers: Tommies head north to Bemidji to open CCHA slate

St. Thomas’ Luc Laylin celebrates with teammate Matthew Gleason after scoring a goal against Lindenwood Saturday, Oct. 21 in Mendota Heights. (Photo by Ryan Stieg)

By Ryan Stieg 

MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. — College hockey seasons are usually broken up in two parts, the regular season or first season, and the playoffs or second season.  

However, there is a somewhat forgotten slate and that’s the conference season, which in the case of the St. Thomas men’s team, begins this weekend at Bemidji State.  

The Tommies may be 2-3-1, but they’re rolling right now. They’re coming off a win and a tie against Lindenwood that easily could’ve been a sweep as UST pumped 63 shots at the Lions’ net during the series opener. And that performance was coming off of a weekend where they kept pace with now-No. 1 Minnesota. For their performances against the Lions, Liam Malmquist (three assists) and Jake Sibbell were named CCHA Forward and Goaltender of the Week respectively.  

“I thought we played better structurally,” UST head coach Rico Blasi said after Saturday’s victory over LU. “We didn’t give them too many chances. We did really good keeping them to the outside and I thought that we defended really well tonight. The one goal they scored, whatever. So, I was happy with that. Happy to get the win. Hard team to play against. They really throw everything at you, and you’ve got to be on your toes all night long. I thought Sibbell played extremely well and made the saves he needed to. I’m just happy we got the win.” 

St. Thomas’ Cam Recchi (8) fights for the puck in front of Bemidji State goalie Mattias Sholl during a game Feb. 24 in Mendota Heights. (Photo by Shannon Stieg)

This weekend poses a new challenge for the Tommies though. Bemidji is frequently a thorn in its opponents’ sides due to its defensive prowess, anchored by current CCHA Defenseman of the Week Kyle Looft, and it has one of the best goalies in the league in Mattias Sholl. The Beavers also might be extra hungry this week after they let a potential win slip away against now-No. 11 Minnesota Duluth last weekend and ended up getting swept by the Bulldogs. So, it’s shaping up to be a tough weekend for the Tommies, but Blasi was feeling good heading into the series. 

“We’re 2-3-1 and we’ve played some really good opponents,” he said Saturday. “I think our game is in a good place. We’ve got to continue to get better and focus on our process and play to our identity and that’s what we’ll continue to do. We know what we’re in for on Friday. Bemidji’s a nasty defensive team and doesn’t give you much. They’ve got good goaltending, and their D corps is solid, and they’ve got a couple good forwards. So, we’ve got to play well, but that’s true for any weekend. So, we’ll prepare like we need to and be ready to go.” 

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday in Bemidji.  

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *