Running down a list of Tom Serratore’s achievements as head men’s ice hockey coach at Bemidji State, one might think he has assembled a lengthy and respected career. After all, Serratore has only:
• led BSU to College Hockey America regular-season championships in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010 the 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd conference titles, respectively, in BSU’s storied men’s ice hockey history but its first at the NCAA Division I level.
• guided BSU to its first NCAA Division I Tournament win over No. 2 Notre Dame Mar. 28, 2009.
• led the Beavers to their first appearance in the Frozen Four to cap the 2009 campaign.
• directed BSU to championship-game appearances in the CHA Tournament in a league-record four consecutive seasons (2003-06).
• led BSU to the CHA Tournament championship in 2005, 2006 and 2009, becoming the first CHA program to garner back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
• directed BSU to a record of .500 or better in eight of the last 11 seasons.
• helped BSU become only the second CHA program to win both the league regular-season and tournament crowns during the same campaign, achieving that feat in 2005 and repeating the feat in 2009.
• helped BSU earn its first Division I-era invitation to the NCAA Tournament on the strength of its 2005 CHA Tournament win.
•saw his 2010 squad earn the program's first at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
• oversaw the first Division I-era BSU program to be nationally-ranked in the USA Today poll, when the Beavers earned a nod at No. 15 on Oct. 17, 2005.
• is a five-time College Hockey America Coach of the Year (2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010).
• has been named a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award, awarded to the National Coach of the Year, six times and was runner up for the national award in 2009.
As for Serratore’s career... Respected? Without question. Lengthy? Anything but. Serratore has led Bemidji State’s remarkable rise from a floundering Division I neophyte to national heights and back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament after just seven short seasons.
The legacy Serratore was asked to continue when named the seventh head coach at Bemidji State in 2001 was one of the finest in all of college athletics. Serratore was hand-selected to succeed future Hockey Hall of Fame member R.H. “Bob” Peters, who won 702 games and 13 national championships at Bemidji State while carving out one of the true dynasties in the history of athletics at any level.
“I can’t approximate what Coach Peters did at BSU. No coach can,” Serratore said. Conventional sports wisdom has long contended it is never wise to follow a legend, but Serratore has never been one to shy away from a challenge. His remarkable resume and the arrival of Bemidji State as a legitimate Division I program proves Serratore is more than comfortable following a legend, and his achievements over the last seven years have him well on the path to a legend of his own.
BSU has continued to build success during each year of the Serratore era improving from 12 victories during his inaugural 2001-02 season to 14-14-8, then to 20- 13-3 in 2003-04 to 23-13-1 in 2005-06 and ultimately to 20-15-1 in 2009 en route to the school’s first appearance in the Frozen Four.
The Beavers finished 4-26-4 in 2000-01, the year before Serratore took over, giving the Beavers an 18- game improvement under his guidance. And Serratore is already just the second coach in BSU history to coach in more than 250 games, while his 140 career
Bemidji State’s 2008-09 season was one not even a Caldecott Medalwinning author would have dreamed of penning. After dropping their first four games by a total score of 21-6 and wrapping up the first month of competition just 5-1, the defending regular-season College Hockey America champions seemed to be in a tail spin. After a one-week hiatus, the Beavers traveled to longtime rival Ala.-Huntsville. Bemidji State was uncharacteristically held to just 15 shots on goal in a 4-2 loss, but the following evening BSU’s Matt Read would net a third-period goal to knot the game at 1-1 and Brandon Marino powered the Beavers to their first CHA victory, 2-1. The triumph kick started a run of seven games during which BSU won six, including a sweep of the WCHA’s Michigan Tech.
Serratore’s Beavers hit a funk to open 2009. BSU dropped its next six games including back-to-back, one-goal losses to perennial powerhouse North Dakota. During the final week of January, Serratore regrouped his team to split with Niagara at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse. The win over the bitter CHA rival again sparked a BSU winning streak, this time extending over five games and two conference series sweeps. It was at that point that the Beavers began to realize their potential and convince their faithful fans to believe.
Bemidji State would finish the season posting an 8-2-1 record down the stretch to capture its fifth CHA title with a win over Robert Morris in the final game of the regular season to secure the top seed in the 2009 conference tournament.
For the first time in the 10-year history of the league, the CHA Tournament was held at The Glas--a venue as rich in championship tradition as any--but little did anyone know that the final collegiate tournament game ever played in the hallowed barn, may have been its finest. The Beavers would coast through their semifinal contest versus Ala.- Huntsville leaving them just 60 minutes from their third NCAA Tournament berth. Scorned by a near miss in the 2008 tournament, the green and white were determined to make a run and the big dance. Tyler Scofield potted his team-leading 18th goal of the season to get the Beavers on the board early, but before the first period would expire, Robert Morris evened the score. Read opened the second stanza with a goal only to be matched by RMU’s Chris Margott just three minutes later. The scoreboard remained locked at 2-2 through the final 20 minutes of play setting up a sudden-death situation. With a capacity crowd on the edges of their seats in anticipation, Read would send the BSU faithful into a frenzy 8:05 into the extra frame firing a rebound into the back of the net. Read would be named as the tournamnt MVP for his efforts.
The storybook season continued to Grand Rapids, Mich. where BSU, the unranked 16th seed, was pitted against Notre Dame--the No. 2 team in the land. It would take BSU just 1:42 to find the scoreboard and the team would build a 2-0 advantage heading into the first intermission. With 40 minutes gone, BSU led 3-0, then 4-0 in the opening minute of the third. A stunned Fighting Irish team and college hockey world was begining to take notice. BSU won the game 5-1.
After their first NCAA Division I Tournament win, the Beavers continued to ride a wave of momentum into the Midwest Regional Championship game versus No. 9 Cornell. The Big Red scored first, but BSU would answer with four consecutive goals to secure its second straight win over a top 10 team and a most unlikely spot in the 2009 Frozen Four
The Beavers’ once-in-a-lifetime ride would come to an end at the hand of Miami (Ohio) in the national semifinal, but not before the Beavers, the first 16th-seed to ever win its way into the Frozen Four, turned the hockey world on its ear, putting Bemidji State University and Bemidji, Minn. on the map in the process.
BSU had six players garner recognition in the CHA’s season-ending awards. Matt Read and Brad Hunt were selected First-team All-CHA,
Academically, it was business as usual for BSU. For the eighth consecutive season, the Beavers led all conference institutions with 17
Prior to BSU
Serratore began his coaching career as an assistant at Brainerd (Minn.) High School (1987-’91). He took his first head job at Henry Sibley High School (1991-’93), leading Henry Sibley to a Class A thirdplace finish at the state tournament.
An active member of USA Hockey for the past 13 years, Serratore coached the USA Hockey Select 17 camp in 1994.
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.
Career Record: 211-207-56 (.504) in 13 seasons (through 2013-14 season).
Bemidji State University is a member of the
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system