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Serratores want players who are willing to work

Thursday, 02.14.2008 / 12:00 PM / On Campus

By James Murphy - NHL.com Correspondent

Air Force Falcons head coach Frank Serratore is seeking players who reflect his blue-collar work ethic.
Here’s a warning to incoming freshmen hockey players at Air Force and Bemidji State: Be prepared to work like you’ve never worked before, and then work even harder the next day!

Regardless of whether you will be playing for Falcons coach Frank Serratore or his younger brother, Tom, the coach at Bemidji State, the expectations will be the same. Both Serratore brothers pride themselves on their blue-collar roots of Coleraine, Minn. And while they always try to build winning teams, the most important attributes each player must possess to play for a Serratore are passion and work ethic.

“There’s very little difference in what we want from our players,” Frank said. “We expect them to always try their hardest and believe in themselves and their team.”

Tom concurred.

“We both expect our players to have high expectations for the program, the staff, and themselves,” Tom said during a recent mid-season scouting trip through Western Canada. “We come from a blue-collar town in the Iron Range of Minnesota and grew up in a working-class environment. It’s just in our blood to always try your hardest at whatever you do in life.”

What these brothers decided to do in life was teach and coach a game they started playing on the tight-knit neighborhood streets of Coleraine. The Serratore brothers grew up in the same neighborhood as former NHL goaltender Jon Casey and fell in love with hockey through countless games of street hockey. Frank decided to lace up his skates when he began high school, and his younger brother, still in elementary school, followed his lead.

“We grew up with the Casey family and we would always play street hockey until it was too dark to play anymore,” Tom recalled. “But we didn’t lace up the skates until I think Frank was probably in ninth grade and I was in second. But we loved it once we did.”

Frank became a goalie and Tom a forward. Four years later, Frank was off to Western Michigan, but would transfer to Bemidji State after two seasons, enabling him to play closer to home and allowing his family to attend all his home games. But as Tom pointed out, that transfer would shape both their lives, as Tom once again followed his older brother and also ended up playing college hockey for the Beavers. Both would take different routes to their current coaching posts as Division I college hockey players, but their experience at Bemidji State served as a catalyst for their passion to coach.

“Going to Bemidji State was just in our blood and we were both influenced by Bob Peters and very fortunate to have had him as a coach,” Tom said.

Peters, the current CHA Commissioner, is known for his great teaching skills, and the Bemidji State hockey program served as the platform for numerous high school hockey coaches in Minnesota.

“I think we both learned so much from Bob and grew a passion to teach the game,” Frank said.

Tom also credited Frank for helping him find his calling in life.

“Frank was already coaching by the time I was 15, and he would come home with a net and some pucks for me to shoot on him,” Tom recalled. “He was my idol then and a great mentor throughout life.”

Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore credits his
older brother Frank for inspiring him to be a coach.

Now almost 30 years later, both are respected and influential coaches in the college ranks. Frank recently led the Falcons to an NCAA tournament appearance last season, and Tom has taken the Beavers to the NCAAs twice during the last three years. Prior to the 2005-06 season, they were conference rivals in the CHA, with Tom holding a decisive edge at 18-1-1. But since then, the Serratore brothers find themselves trading ideas on how to improve their respective power plays or penalty kills.

“Just recently our PK wasn’t working that well and we incorporated Tom’s system, but it wasn’t always that way when were in the CHA and we couldn’t share as much,” Frank joked.

But as Tom pointed out, the two brothers have always helped each other.

“Even when we were in the CHA we still have always been a sponge for ideas with each other,” he said. “We share so many of the same ideas and philosophies.”

While they’re focused on the next game, both brothers admit they would love to be bouncing ideas off each other on the same bench.

“Coaching together I think, is definitely on our bucket list,” Frank said.

Until then, summer nights on the lakes of the Iron Range will have to do.

On Campus Notes — Boston College freshman defenseman Nick Petrecki had one topsy-turvy night Monday in the 56th annual Beanpot Championship between the Eagles and Harvard Crimson. Petrecki scored his first collegiate goal to give BC a 3-2 lead at 9:06 of the second period, but he made a costly turnover with four minutes left in the third period, enabling Harvard to tie the game at five after trailing 5-3 with less than 10 minutes to go. Petrecki didn’t remain a goat for long though as he scored the game-winner 7:07 into overtime to help the Eagles win their 14th Beanpot Championship with a 6-5 overtime win. Following the game, Petrecki, the 28th overall pick (San Jose) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, was just relieved the puck got by Harvard goalie Kyle Richter.

“It was really just being in the right place at the right time and I just closed my eyes and luckily the puck went in,” said Petrecki, who came to the Beanpot with his father growing up. “It’s every kid’s dream to play in the Beanpot and to score the winning goal, so I’m just happy to have had that chance.”

This weekend, USA Hockey will celebrate “Hockey Weekend Across America” and as part of the weekend, the hockey-crazed state of Michigan will celebrate the third annual “Hockey Day In Michigan” Saturday, Feb. 16. Six of the seven Division I teams in Michigan will be at home this Saturday. Ferris State hosts Miami, Michigan hosts Lake Superior, Michigan Tech hosts Minnesota-Duluth and Western Michigan hosts Michigan State. The CCHA, FSN Detroit, the Detroit Red Wings and the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association are teaming to bring a coast-to-coast celebration of the sport of hockey to participants and fans across the state. For more information, please go to http://ccha.cstv.com/sports/m-hockey/spec-rel/hockey-day-in-mich.html. ... University of Denver sophomore forward Brock Trotter signed with the Montreal Canadiens and reported to their AHL affiliate Hamilton this past week. Trotter played in 24 games and led the team with 31 points in (13 goals, 18 assists). He registered 76 points (32 goals, 44 assists) during his collegiate career.

NHL.com Top Ten

1. Michigan (23-3-4)

2. North Dakota (17-8-2)

3. Miami (25-4-1)

4. New Hampshire (18-7-1)

5. Colorado College (21-8-1)

6. Denver (19-8-1)

7. Boston College (15-6-7)

8. Michigan State (18-8-5)

9. Notre Dame (20-10-2)

10. Minnesota-Duluth (11-9-6)


 

Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential