Once again, Tom Serratore got the best of his big brother.
Grady Hunt stopped 31 shots for his third career shutout as Bemidji State blanked Frank Serratore’s Air Force Falcons, 5-0, in front of 1,261 fans at the Cadet Ice Arena on Friday.
The younger Serratore improves to 5-0-1 lifetime against his older brother. The rivalry is one of just two in Division I athletics that pits brothers from the same conference.
Bemidji State, which extended its unbeaten streak to four games, won by more than two goals for just the third time this season. The Beavers are now 11-13-8 overall (9-6-4 CHA), while Air Force, which assures itself of a last-place league finish, drops to 10-22-3 (2-14-3).
“Our confidence is pretty much shot right now,” said Falcons captain Andy Berg. “I don’t know what we need to do to get ready, but it seems like half the team doesn’t know where their heads are.”
Bemidji State got all the scoring it would need in the first 20 minutes, a period that featured just one penalty. Marty Goulet opened the scoring midway through, as the senior got behind the defense, took a cross-ice pass from Riley Riddell, and found the open net.
For Air Force, it marked the ninth straight contest it has allowed the first goal of the game.
“We’re not good enough to be spotting leads,” said the older Serratore. “We’re always scrambling trying to come from behind. Right now we need something good to happen.”
With less than four minutes left in the opening period, Riddell doubled the Beavers’ lead. Myles Kuharski crossed the blue line in a one-on-one situation and left the puck for Riddell trailing the play. He beat Falcons netminder Mike Polidor (22 saves) to his right, and has now tallied a point in a career-best six consecutive games.
The officials tightened play up in the second period, as the two teams committed a combined seven penalties. The whistles blew so much in the period that for 80 seconds, three-on-three hockey took place.
Air Force, meanwhile, continued to struggle in all phases of its offense. The Falcons managed to fire 31 shots on goal, almost all from long range, but Hunt allowed very few rebound opportunities.
“I really like him,” said Frank Serratore of Hunt. “I scouted him for my brother in a national tournament. He stopped 55 shots, and I called Tom and said ‘You need to give this guy a scholarship.'”
The Air Force power play was anything but powerful, as the Falcons managed just four shots on their four opportunities with the man-advantage. Once ranked in the top-10 nationally in power-play percentage, Air Force has now converted on just four of its last 59 power-play chances.
“We’re kind of pressing right now,” said Berg. “It seems like we’re trying not to give up goals rather than score ourselves.”
Bemidji State clinched the win midway through the third period. Jeff McGill scored the Beavers’ third goal of the night, as the senior roofed a rebound attempt. A pair of goals 43 seconds apart, by Riddell and Goulet, sealed the victory.
“We haven’t won a league game since Thanksgiving,” said Frank Serratore. “We need to win a game bad.”