Rivalry Swept Away
Date: Jan 14, 2019
MINOT, N.D. -- When the news broke yesterday of the first official computer rankings being released, the Beavers anticipated a drop in spots due to losses to a couple of unranked opponents. The shear fact of being recently swept by Iowa State alone would cause at least a swap in spots. No one, however, anticipated the Beavers would slide all the way to #18 in the latest rankings. A slide so far, you would have to look all the way back to 2009, to find the Beavers ranked outside the top 10 in the national rankings.
"We really are in an unprecedented situation." Said Head Coach Wade Regier. "A situation that has a pretty sour taste for everyone both in the locker room and out. The biggest thing, is it is early. We have common belief in our team and in our culture that we will get through this. We will be underdogs all season long now and will have to battle are way all season."
Flash back to 2009.
That season, the Beavers were coached by Sheldon Schneider. Schneider the former player, then turned coach, turned around a fledgling Beavers program. He turned around a team ranked outside the top 25 for almost five seasons. Bringing them all the way to #9 and propelling the Beavers to their first national tournament win since 2003. Almost a six year gap between dates. The 2009 season was arguably the turning point for the Minot State Beavers hockey program.
Fast forward to 2018, over this span, the Beavers have been to the elite eight or quarterfinals, eight straight seasons. Another staggering stat, since 2013, the Beavers have been in four final four appearances. Furthermore, the past four seasons the Beavers haven't been ranked outside the top three. Consistently ranked #1 for vast parts of the season making the big drop in rankings even more concerning.
Diving Into the Details
Inconsistent play has been the biggest challenge for the Beavers. The Beavers struggled the first two nights in Colorado at the end of September. The Beavers lost to Colorado on Thursday, followed it up with its first loss to Colorado State since 2006. The Beavers quickly rebounded with a big 5-3 win to salvage the weekend. Two weeks later, the Beavers got back on track with a big 2-1 win in overtime over the Illinois Fighting Illini, who knocked the Beavers out in the Semi-Finals last season. Then, two nights later, the Beavers experienced their first loss to an unranked opponent in over a decade. The Beavers have not been able to put wins together, which needs to happen if they want to make the National Tournament in Dallas, TX.
Unable to Score
The Beavers, have continued to put up the shot totals. As has been in the past, the Beavers continue to out shoot opponents, but have not been rewarded for their efforts. Case in point, the Beavers recent road trip to Iowa State. The Beavers out shot the Cylcones 37-29 on Friday and 40-34 on Saturday. Despite out shooting the Cyclones, it didn't lead to goals or victories. The Beavers will need to convert plays in short order.
Plagued by Injuries
Injuries are not an excuse, but have been a factor. The Beavers had six players not come on recent road trip due to injuries. Some have been season ending and couple Beavers will miss some time due to injuries. The upcoming bye weekend will definitely help as the Beavers prepare for a big three game home stand versus ASU/UNLV.
Where do the Beavers go from here? The only answer is "Up" according to Coach Regier "For our guys, we have too much character, to much experience to just pack it in. We know wins are not going to come as easily as they have been in the past. But we have all the pieces to really build something. We are just going to have to work a little harder and prepare a little better. Sooner or later we are going to start getting some breaks. When we do, it is going to be exciting to see."
The Beavers have a great opportunity to turn things around next weekend as both Arizona State and UNLV travel north for a big three day weekend.