BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team is back at Sanford Center this weekend to host University of Alaska-Anchorage in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series. The Beavers, fresh off a sweep of Northern Michigan University, enter the series 12-14-4 overall and 8-10-4 in league play. BSU, which is unbeaten at home since Nov. 28, looks to stretch its unbeaten streak on home ice beyond seven games (5-0-2) for the first time since the 2009-10 and establish a Sanford Center record for consecutive home games without a loss in the process.
Including a nonconference win over St. Cloud State Nov. 28, BSU has posted a record of 9-4-4 and is averaging 2.82 goals per game, while allowing a meager 1.59. It’s penalty-kill unit has snuffed out 54-of-58 opponent power-play opportunities (.931), which leads the nation during that span.
Senior defender Matt Prapavessis continues to lead BSU in scoring with 20 points (7g-13a) and has a team-best 13 assists. Charlie O’Connor is the team’s top goal scorer with a career-high 10. O’Connor leads all BSU scorers netting three goals and three assists in BSU’s last seven games, which includes a goal and an assist in BSU’s 5-1 victory at Northern Michigan last Saturday. Michael Bitzer has taken the reins of BSU’s goaltending duties, starting the last 14 games consecutively. During that streak, the freshman has an 8-4-2 record, an 1.28 goals against average a .947 save percentage and has backstopped a BSU penalty-kill unit that is operating at 94-percent efficiency.
The Seawolves currently hold down 10th place in the WCHA standings with a 7-17-4 overall record and 4-16-2 mark in league play. Alaska-Anchorage opens the series seeking its first win since Jan. 17 to snap a six-game losing skid. Junior forward Blake Tatchell leads the team in scoring and is the team’s top assist man with five goals and 15 assists for 20 points. Senior Scott Allen has a team-high eight goals this season, which includes six of the Seawolves’ 16 power-play goals. In the net, all three of UAA’s goaltenders have seen time, but freshman Olivier Mantha has shouldered the bulk of the puck-stopping duties. In 23 games played, Mantha has a .910 save percentage and a 3.06 goals against average to go with a 6-13-3 record.
Bemidji State notables:
• BSU snapped its two-game losing skid Friday with a 1-0 victory at Northern Michigan and finished the weekend with a 5-1 victory to seal its first WCHA series road sweep of the 2014-15 season. BSU moves to 12-14-4 overall and 8-10-4 in WCHA play and is tied with NMU and sits two points behind Alaska for fourth place in the WCHA standings.
• The Beavers not only secured their first road series sweep of the season, its marked their first back-to-back road wins since Jan. 10-11, 2014 at Lake Superior State.
• Friday night’s 1-0 victory marked the Beavers’ fifth since 1999-2000 (94 games) when BSU has managed just one goal.
• Friday night’s 1-0 victory moved BSU to 2-14-3 when scoring three or fewer goals, however, after Saturday’s 5-1 win, the Beavers are now 10-0-1 when netting four or more.
• Michael Bitzer is coming off of his 13th and 14th consecutive starts. Since Dec. 12 the freshman is 8-4-2 in 850:00 minutes played with a nation’s-best 1.28 goals against average, a .947 save percentage and has four shutouts.
• The BSU power-play unit was 0-for-8 at Northern Michigan. The Beavers are now 16-for-113 (.142) on the man advantage this season. They are 11-for-82 (.134) in WCHA play to rank fifth in the league.
• The Beavers have failed to score a power-play goal in their last 12 man advantage opportunities and have just one power-play tally in their last five games.
• The BSU penalty-kill unit improved to 100-for-118 (.847) on the season, while it is 71-of-82 (.866) on the kill in league play to rank third.
• Last time BSU surrendered a power-play goal was a 5-on-3 opportunity in the second period of its Jan. 24 game versus No. 1 Minnesota State—a streak stretching 22 opponent power-play opportunities and seven games.
• Despite failing to score in BSU’s last five home games, Nate Arentz has been BSU’s top scorer this season at Sanford Center. He has 11 points (6g-5a) in 13 home games.
• Nate Arentz is due to score. The sophomore has 15 points this season to rank fifth on the team, however, he has just one assist in the Beavers’ last 13 games and has not recorded a point since posting an assist Jan. 10 versus Ala.-Huntsville.
• BSU is 7-7-1 on Friday’s this season and has averaged 2.87 goals per game, while allowing its opponents 2.33.
• This season Matt Prapavessis has been BSU’s top scoring threat on Friday. He has 12 points (5g-7a) in 15 Friday contests.
• BSU is unbeaten in overtime this season posting a 1-0-4 record in overtime games.
• Bitzer made 25 saves Friday to pick up the fourth shutout of his freshman season, 1-0. The last BSU goaltender to post at least four shutouts in a single season was Matt Clime (5) in 2007-08.
• Bitzer made a career-high 36 saves to pick up his 10th win of the season Saturday. He became the first BSU goaltender to post 10 or more wins in a season since Dan Bakala recorded 11 in 2011-12.
• Bitzer is the first rookie goaltender at BSU to record 10 victories since Matt Clime posted 11 as a freshman in 2004-05.
• Charlie O’Connor recorded his 10th goal of the season Saturday—extending his single-season career-high total. He leads BSU in goals scored.
• Kyle Bauman added two assists for his fourth multi-point game of 2014-15 Saturday. He is tied with Matt Prapavesis for the team’s lead.
• BSU is 11-4-1 this season when scoring first.
• The Beavers are 5-1-4 versus the Seawolves in a series that got its start in 2010. BSU’s last lost to UAA came Nov. 12, 2010—in the first meeting of the all-time series. BSU is unbeaten in the last nine meetings and is 3-1-2 when hosing UAA at Sanford Center.
• Four of the Beavers’ 10 all-time meetings versus UAA have been stretched to overtime, including the last three meetings and 3-3 and 4-4 ties Dec. 5 and 6 of this season. BSU is 0-0-4 all-time in OT versus the Seawolves.
• BSU has averaged 3.70 goals per game versus UAA, while allowing only 2.8. In six series games at Sanford Center, BSU holds a 3.83-2.67 goal advantage.
• BSU defender Matt Prapavessis has had the most individual scoring success versus UAA. In eight match ups, he has two goals and six assists for eight points, which includes a goal and three assists in the Dec. 5-6 series at Alaska-Anchorage.
• BSU’s power-play unit was was a scorching 5-for-10 in the Dec. 5-6 series at Alaska-Anchorage,, which includes a three-power-play goal night (3-for-7) Dec. 6— a single-game high for 2014-15.
• The Beavers are 7-4-2 at home this season and are 5-0-2 at Sanford Center since Nov. 29th.
• BSU’s current seven-game home unbeaten streak (5-0-2) is the longest in Sanford Center History and the teams longest on home ice since BSU strung together eight wins at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse to open the 2009-10 season.