BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team returns to Sanford Center this weekend to host No. 4 Ferris State University in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play. After playing seven of their last eight games on the road, the Beavers will host in four of their last six as the team fights to stay in the hunt for the right to host the first round of the 2014 WCHA playoffs.
BSU comes into the series after being swept at Minnesota State University (5-2 and 3-2) a week ago in Mankato, Minn. and is looking for just its second win since Jan. 17 (1-4-1).
Cory Ward leads BSU in scoring, netting a career-high 25 points (17g-8a) and a team-best 17 goals through 30 games. Defenseman Matt Prapavessis, who had an assist in last weekend’s series, has also established a new career-high, scoring 21 points (5g-16a), and is the team’s top assist man with 16 helpers. The duo of Andrew Walsh and Jesse Wilkins have shared goaltending duties as of late. While Walsh has a pair of shutouts and a 6-11-4 record, Wilkins leads the team in goals against average (2.36) and save percentage (.929), and has assembled a 2-3-3 record.
Ferris state opens the weekend as the nation’s No. 4 team. At 15-3-2 in league play, the Bulldogs have been atop the WCHA standings from day one and enter the weekend ranked among the nations’s top 10 teams for the 11th consecutive week. FSU opens the series riding a three-game winning streak, but is just 1-4-0 in its last four road games.
Senior Garrett Thompson leads the team with 25 points (13g-12a). Defender Jason Binkley paces all FSU blueliners in scoring and has a team-best 16 assists. Junior C.J. Motte has handled the bulk of the Bulldogs’ goaltending duties. At 19-4-3 on the season, he has allowed 2.25 goals per game and owns a .927 save percentage.
The Bemidji State-Ferris Sate rivalry stretches back to 1999. The Bulldogs enter this weekend holding a 7-4-0 all time advantage over the Beavers, which includes a 3-1-0 record in games played on BSU’s home ice. However, the last time FSU visited Bemidji, Minn. was for a nonconference series Oct. 22-23, 2004, making this weekend the Bulldogs’ first appearance in Sanford Center. Despite a pair of tightly contested games (L, 5-4 (OT) and 5-3), the Bulldogs swept the Beavers when the teams last met, Nov. 8-9 of this season in Big Falls, Mich. BSU and FSU have never met with either team has been ranked among the top 15 in the country.
Tom Serratore (Bemidji State ‘86) is in his 13th season as BSU’s head coach and has an overall record of 209-201-55. Serratore’s teams have won CHA regular-season championships five times since 2003-04 and made trips to the NCAA Tournament in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010, with a 2009 appearance in the Frozen Four. He is a five-time CHA Coach of the Year recipient and was Spencer Penrose National Coach of the Year Runner-up in 2009.
Bob Daniels is in his 22nd season at the helm of the Ferris State men’s hockey program. Since 1992, his Bulldog teams have assembled a 370-384-87 record to go with a pair of CCHA titles and Frozen Four appearance in 2012. Daniels, a two-time CCHA Coach of the Year, is a 1982 graduate of Michigan State. He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Miami University before a three-year stint in the NAHL.
Bemidji State Notables:
• The Bemidji State hockey team suffered a WCHA series sweep at Minnesota State Feb. 7-8. The Beavers moved to 8-15-7 overall and 8-10-4 in conference play.
• Bemidji State continues WCHA play this weekend with a two-game series versus Ferris State. In a series that dates back to 1999, BSU is 4-7-0 all-time versus the Bulldogs, which includes a 1-3-0 mark in games played in Bemidji, Minn.
• Only two members of BSU’s roster, Radoslav Illo and Sam Rendle, had faced Ferris State during their careers prior to this season. Following two tremendous games in Big Falls, Mich. Nov. 8-9, Marcus Gerbrandt leads all BSU players versus FSU with four points (3g-1a). Defenseman Graeme McCormack also pitched in three assists in the series to rank second.
• BSU and FSU have split the last four games played between the teams, with FSU taking the first two games of the four-game season series Nov. 8-9 in Big Falls, Mich. Jason Binkley netted the game-winner 1:28 into overtime of a 5-4 FSU victory in the series opener before a four-goal first period would propel the Bulldogs to a 5-3 victory in the finale.
• BSU’s seven ties this season leave it just one shy of a program record eight draws set in 2002-03.
• BSU leads the nation in ties (7) and only Denver (12), Michigan Tech (10) and Bowling Green (10) have played in more OT games this season than BSU’s nine.
• When the Beavers’ opponents score more than one goal this season, BSU has just one win (1-15-7).
• Cory Ward has registered at least point in six of the Beavers’ last eight games (5g-4a).
• BSU is 5-3-5 (.577) when Brendan Harms logs a point this season.
• BSU has failed to out shoot its opponents in its last six of the last seven games. BSU is 2-10-7 when being out shot this season and is 1-2-3 when opponents log more than 40 shots on goal.
• BSU gave up 48 shots Friday night, marking the largest number of shots surrendered since Minnesota recorded 51 versus the Beavers March 15, 2013.
• Including a 43-save performance Friday night, Andrew Walsh is 0-2-2 in games in which he has posted at least 40 saves.
• Cory Ward leads BSU with a career-best 25 points (17g-8a) this season. His team-leading 17 goals stand as BSU’s top single-season goal scoring performance since Jordan George netted 19 in 2011-12.
• BSU has snuffed out 120-of-139 (.863) opponent man advantage opportunities this season to sit ninth in the nation, while it ranks third in the WCHA killing 89-of-104 (.856) in league opponent power-play opportunities.
• BSU was 0-for-11 on the power-play in the series and is 22-of-132 (.167) on the season, which includes a 17-of-101 clip (.168) in WCHA play to sit sixth in the league.
• BSU’s last power-play goal came in the first period of the team’s Jan. 25 match up with Alaska in Fairbanks—a span stretching 12 man advantage opportunities.
• Markus Gerbrandt has recorded 15 (10g-5a) of his 20 points (12g-8a) in 15 road games this season to lead all BSU players in scoring away from Sanford Center.
• Six BSU newcomers to have found the back of the net through the Beavers’ first 30 games. Forward John Parker and defenders D.J. Jones and Carter Struthers remain as the only new skaters without a goal.
• This season BSU has averaged than a half goal more on Friday than it has on Saturday. It has averaged of 2.87 per Friday contest and 2.29 goals per game Saturday.
• This season Phil Marinaccio has logged all eight (5g-3a) of his total points in WCHA contests.
• Cory Ward has scored 19 (12g-7a) of his 25 (17g-8a) points in league play to lead BSU and rank fifth in WCHA scoring.
• Cory Ward’s 12 goals in WCHA play place him third among league counterparts, Markus Gerbrandt ranks fifth with 10.
• Matt Prapavessis has logged 5g-11a in 22 WCHA games to lead all league blueliners in scoring.
• John Parker made his BSU debut Saturday night. A sophomore transfer from Maine, his last collegiate game action came in an NCAA Midwest Regional loss to Minnesota Duluth March 24, 2012. Parker posted three goals and four assists in 33 games for the Black Bears during the 2011-12 season.
• Averaging just 10.8 penalty minutes per game, BSU is the least penalized team in the WCHA.