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Chat Live With Bemidji State's Tom Serratore

Welcome to the CollegeSports.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, March 22 at 2:00 p.m. EST, Bemidji State University Head Coach Tom Serratore visits the Tuesday @ The Rink" chat room. The Beavers are preparing for a first round matchup with the defending NCAA champion Denver Pioneers on Saturday.

Serratore led Bemidji State to the CHA Championship and their first Division I NCAA Tournament bid since their jump to D-I in 1999. BSU has increased its win total during each year of the Serratore era, from 12 during his inaugural 2001-02 season to 23 already this season. The Beavers finished 4-26-4 in 2000-01, the year before he took over.

Serratore came to the Beaver hockey program after spending five years as the recruiting coordinator for Western Collegiate Hockey Association member St. Cloud State University. He helped the Huskies to a 96-84-15 record, including three 20-win seasons and four WCHA Final Five berths during his tenure. Serratore recruited several National Hockey League draft selections while at St. Cloud State, including Matt Cullen, Mark Parrish and Josh DeWolf. He also was an assistant coach for the 1998 WCHA All-Star Team which participated in the Kolin Cup in Zug, Switzerland.

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Serratore knows first-hand the tradition of BSU men's hockey, having played two years under Peters in the mid-1980s. He was a two-year letterwinner at forward for BSU from 1985-'87 and played in two NCAA Division III Tournaments. Serratore was a member of BSU's 1986 NCAA Division III national championship team and captained the 1986-'87 team. He averaged 1.03 points per game in his BSU career (1986--20-23=43 points, 1987--12-27=39 points) and led the 1986-87 team with four game-winning goals.

Serratore began his playing career at Mankato State, scoring 31-28-59 points in two seasons for the Mavericks before transferring to BSU. For his collegiate career, Serratore scored 63- 78=141 points.

Tom's brother Frank is the head coach at Air Force.

While Serratore won't be stopping by until 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 22, feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!

CollegeSports.com Moderator: Welcome back to the second half of our coaching doubleheader today on Tuesday @ The Rink. We are now joined by Bemidji State Head Coach Tom Serratore.
Coach Serratore: Hello, everyone. It is great to be here. I'm ready for all your questions.

Randy (Denver): Hi Tom - Congrats on a great season. I was really impressed with the way BSU shut down the AH Jared Ross line in the CHA Championship. Will the same balanced offense and defense hold up against Denver or will the wider ice in Amherst cater more to an offensive shoot out?
Coach Serratore: Thanks for the kind words about shutting down the Ross line. They are a heck of a line. As far as the big ice, Denver is a great skating team. They come at you with four lines. They have two of the best defensemen in the country in Skinner and Carle. From that standpoint, they are going to come at us in waves. We better make sure we protect the middle of the ice because of the space there is on the Olympic sized sheet.

BSU Alumni03: Is there any major injuries that may sideline a player(s)... besides Murray's injury? Go Beavers!!
Coach Serratore: Lou Garritan injured his knee against Huntsville and will not play this weekend.

Randy (Detroit): Tom, do you hope you didn't use all your goals up in the CHA Tournament? Two shutouts is impressive, but is there anything left for Denver?
Coach Serratore: Obviously it is a new week. We've had two weeks off, so hopefully by not playing this past weekend, we have those goals in the bank to use this weekend.

Mike (Minneapolis, MN): Congrats on making the tourney! You face a lot of recruiting competition in MN. What have you learned that can help other small programs compete with the big-name programs?
Coach Serratore: The difference between the bigger programs and ourselves is that you can't take a single day off from recruiting. It is something that as a staff, when we are together, we need to discuss it every single day, regardless of the time of year. It is necessary for us to know what is going at all times because recruiting is the lifeline of your program.

Weyburn: Congratulations on your NCAA berth. As one of the bright young coaches in college hockey, what former coaches have had the biggest influence on your approach to being a head hockey coach at the D1 level?
Coach Serratore: A lot of it is two people - I played for Bob Peters, who undoubtedly is one of the greatest coaches in the history of college hockey. Just playing under him was the best internship money could buy. Also, I had the opportunity of working at St. Cloud State under Craig Dahl for five years. He gave me the luxury of doing what I wanted, where I wanted to go for recruiting. I really respect Craig for allowing me to grow as a hockey coach under him.

Rob(Chicago): How did your team respond to the news that you were going to play the #1 team in the nation? And how do you like your chances coming into the game?
Coach Serratore: First of all, you just have to pick your poison. To us, it doesn't matter if it is Denver, CC, BC or Minnesota, because they are all equally as good. As far as our chances, we feel we are a good hockey team, a proud hockey team, a team with a lot of tradition, and we are taking the approach that we are not just going to Amherst to play, we are going there to make it one exciting hockey game.

Troy S. St. Paul, Minn.: What is the atmosphere like up there at Bemidji State for this?
Coach Serratore: The people are pretty excited. This program has had a lot of success in the past, winning 13 small college championships, so the people are used to seeing Beaver hockey succeed. But this is the next step in Beaver hockey, for the program and the community. The people are very happy to see the success we had at the small college level start to translate to success at the D-I level.

S. Michaels (Minneapolis): Congratulations Coach, on the CHA championship, and regular season, we knew it was coming! My question first is; with Bemidji's location (in the heart of the WCHA),does your location and WCHA media exposure through the region help in preparing for the Pioneers? Thanks, and GO BEAVERS!
Coach Serratore: I don't think so, just because it doesn't really matter how close you are or where you are located. It is an NCAA hockey game and is about what each team plans on doing during the game, not about what you know about each other, and then going out and executing it.

Ronnie, Key West Florida: Some fans do not like the autobid for the CHA, Yet The CHA had a winning record against the ECACHL this season (7-5-1). Why is this good for college hockey and how can you convince the naysayers?
Coach Serratore: You can never convince the naysayers because you can't change their mentality. The bottom line, though, is that you need the autobids for the growth of our game. How is our game ever going to grow if the mid-major conferences aren't going to have a reason to compete? The players in the CHA and Atlantic Hockey put as much effort into the game as the players in any other league. The game is about the student-athlete, not the people in the stands. If we had this mentality thirty years ago, the CCHA would never have grown. You wouldn't see programs like Lake Superior State, Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Ferris State, Miami of Ohio. The person behind all of that growth were guys like Ron Mason and Rick Comley. These programs would never have flourished like they are today. The bottom line is that you have to look at the big picture. For all of us that are ambassadors of college hockey, it isn't about where we are now, but where we will be ten to twenty years from now. Hopefully you will see twenty more teams in the next twenty years. If that is the case, it is because of CHA and Atlantic Hockey, or future D-I leagues, so that these newer schools can be part of this proud sport.

Jeff Swedberg-Fergus Falls,MN: As the Fergus Falls Otters hockey Play by Play announcer I'd like to know how much former Otter Ryan Miller has added to your program and how fortunate it is to have him back in the line-up after a hand injury this season especially at this time of the season? P.S. Good Luck this weekend!
Coach Serratore: Ryan is one of our most valuable players. He is one of those players that you don't necessarily see on the scoresheet every game. But what he does as far as penalty killing, winning important faceoffs, finishing checks or going to the net is invaluable for us. He is the type of player who raises everybody else's play because of his work ethic.

Jim (Coon Rapids): What, if anything other than turning the program around and making the NCAA, are you doing to try to lure more Minnesota kids away from Minnesota, Mankato and St. Cloud?
Coach Serratore: It is not necessarily about trying to lure players away from those programs. It is more about providing another opportunity for not only Minnesota players but players from all over the country to play major college hockey in Minnesota.

Jim (East Lansing): What would it mean to your school and comminuty to advance to the Frozen Four, let alone to win it?
Coach Serratore: I think what it does for any community. It is a sense of accomplishment that not many communities and teams have been part of. It would be an incredible experience for our student-athletes, our alumni and our community.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: Unfortunately, that is all the time Coach has today.
Coach Serratore: It was a pleasure chatting. I had a great time. Thank you for the questions.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: Join us next week for another edition of Tuesday @ The Rink. Keep checking back at CSTV.com and USCHO.com for more information on our guests. See you all next Tuesday.

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