Bemidji State Earns Top Spot in CHA Pre-Season Coaches Poll
Thursday, September 25, 2003
BEMIDJI, MINN. -- For the second time in its Division-I history, Bemidji State was chosen as the pre-season favorite to win the College Hockey America title, as voted on by the coaches. The 2000-01 season had the Beavers favored to take the title. Seniors Grady Hunt and Bryce Methven, along with junior Andrew Murray, were named to the Pre-Season All-CHA Team. The three BSU players on the pre-season squad is the most in the program’s DI-era for a single season.

“ It is an honor that the coaches think so much to put us first,” said head coach Tom Serratore. “But it really doesn’t mean a whole lot where we are picked before the season starts.

“What only counts and what people remember is where you finish at the end of the season.”

The Beavers come off its best overall record as a DI member in 2002-03, going 14-14-8 on the season, finishing second in the inaugural CHA Tournament. They lost to three-time tourney champion, Wayne State, 3-2 in the CHA Championship game last March. The Warriors earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Division I Tournament with the win - the first time the NCAA Tournament has accepted the CHA Tournament Champion as an automatic bid.

BSU received all five first-place votes from the league’s coaches - coaches can not vote for their own team. Behind the 25 points of the Beavers was Niagara (21), which was recognized with the other first-place vote, Alabama-Huntsville (17), Wayne State (12), Findlay (9) and Air Force (6). Format for the voting was based on a 5-4-3-2-1 scoring.

“This (ranking) will be a great indicator to see if we have the competitive maturity as a team to deal with this, game in and game out,” said Serratore.

Hunt was the stopper in a defense, that last season, led the CHA and tied for 16th in the nation in scoring defense (2.72). Individually, the Vernon, B.C., native, was first in the CHA and ranked 11th in the nation in goals-against average (2.36), was 12th in the nation in save percentage (.916) and 30th in the nation in winning percentage (13-10-5, .554). Hunt’s save percentage (.916) was the best by a BSU goalie in more than 30 years, since Blane Comstock in 1970-’71 (.919). Hunt is a two-time All-CHA pick, having been a first-teamer in 2002-03 and named to the second team as a sophomore.

Methven, an CHA All-Rookie team pick in 2000-01 and first-team selection last season, played a primary role in a 2002-03 defense that was tops in conference games only in scoring defense (2.30) and fewest goals allowed (46). Also, the team’s 2.76 goals-against average was the lowest by a BSU team since 1983-’84 (2.29). A member of the BSU academic Dean’s List in 2000-01 and 2001-02, Methven is tied for 41st on the BSU career scoring list amongst defensemen with 10-28=38 points. In all games played a year ago, Methven was tied for 14th in the CHA in defensemen scoring (3-9=12) and tied for 14th in CHA games only (2-4=6).

Murray, who was ninth in the nation in rookie scoring (0.94 ppg) in 2001-02, was selected by the Columbus Bluejackets in the eighth round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.. The Selkirk, Man., native was 17th in the CHA in scoring (9-18=27) last season and led the team in assists with 18. In CHA games only, Murray tied for 13th with 3-12=15 points, tied for 5th in assists (12) and tied for 10th in power-play points (1-5=6).

Player of the Year honors went to the reigning scoring champion from a year ago, senior Joe Tallari from Niagara.

Bemidji State takes to the ice Oct. 3, with a special Green-White Skills Competition, to begin at 7:35 p.m. at the John Glas Fieldhouse. Oct. 10 has Concordia-Montreal visit Bemidji, Minn., for a exhibition contest. That game begins at 7:35 p.m. Then, Clarkson opens up a stretch of four home affairs with an encounter on Oct. 17-18 to begin the regular season.

Last season, the Beavers were picked to take third in the preseason polls.

Pre-Season CHA Coaches Poll

Team (1st Place Votes) Pts 2002-03 Record
1. Bemidji State (5) 25 14-14-8
2. Niagara (1) 21 15-17-5
3. Alabama-Huntsville 17 18-14-3
4. Wayne State 12 21-17-2
5. Findlay 9 10-21-4
6. Air Force 6 10-24-3

Pre-Season All-CHA Team

Andrew Murray, Jr., Bemidji State
Jared Ross, Jr., Alabama-Huntsville
Joe Tallari, Sr., Niagara*
Jeremy Schreiber, So., Alabama-Huntsville
Bryce Methven, Sr., Bemidji State
Grady Hunt, Sr., Bemidji State
*Player of the Year