BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The 2017-18 Bemidji State University men's hockey season may have come to a premature end in the eyes of the Beaver faithful, but making its ninth consecutive appearance in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs and finishing fourth in the league's final standings is nothing to overlook.
Between the first of October and the end of March, the 2017-18 season of Beaver Hockey saw winning streaks assembled, future Beaver Hockey legends rewrite the record books and newcomers emerge and give a hint of what is to come. Further evidence of the state of the program, t the conclusion of the season six BSU student-athletes inked deals to play professional hockey, including seniors Kyle Bauman and Gerry Fitzgerald moving on and contributing for American Hockey League Teams and sophomore Zach Whitecloud agreeing to an entry-level deal with the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights.
Bemidji State notables:
• Bemidji State capped the 2017-18 season at 16-14-8 overall and 13-9-6-4 in WCHA play to place fourth in the standings (49 pts).
• The fourth-seeded Beavers were swept by the No. 5 seed Michigan Tech in the opening round of the WCHA Playoffs, 5-3 and 5-4, at Sanford Center, March 2-3.
• Head Coach Tom Serratore finishes his 17th season at BSU with an overall record of 282-270-78 (.510).
• Ninth Straight WCHA Playoff Appearance -- Thrid straight winning season -- Fourth straight season of at least 16 wins
• Captains: Kyle Bauman and Jordan Heller; Alternate Captains: Gerry Fitzgerald and Dillon Eichstadt
• Letterwinners lost: 9 (6 F / 2 D / 1 G) -- Losing 43% of scoring (40% of goals scoring (41) , 45 % of assist scoring (76)
• BSU’s leading scorer Kyle Bauman became the 23rd player of BSU’s Division I-era to eclipse the 30-point plateau and the first since Jordan George posted 31 (19g-12a) in 2011-12. He finished the season with a career-high 30 points (9g-21a).
• Bauman’s BSU-best 21 assists marked the 17th 20-helper campaign since 1999-2000 and stands tied for seventh on BSU’s Division I-era assist scoring list. Brad Hunt was the last to top 20 in 2011-12 when he posted 21 helpers.
• Bauman finished his career with 89 points (37g-52a) and is 12th on BSU’s division I-era scoring list.
• Gerry Fitzgerald finished 2017-18 with 25 points (7g-18a) and his career with 95 points (41g-54a). He leaves BSU 10th on the program’s division scoring list. He was ninth on the assists list and 10th on the goal scoring list.
• Jay Dickman’s team-and career-high 15 goals in 2017-18 is the largest goal total of any BSU player since Jordan George netted 19 in 2011-12. His 2017-18 performance ranks ninth among for goals scored during a junior campaign at BSU.
• Dickman was tied for eighth in the WCHA with 12 goals scored in league play.
• Dickman’s hat trick Nov. 11, 2017 was the first by a BSU player since Markus Gerbrandt Oct. 25, 2013. He became the first BSU player with two hat tricks in the same season since Brendan Cook in 2003-04 when he did it again Dec. 15, 2017.
• Charlie Combs’ 13 goals in 2017-18 is the largest goal total for a BSU freshman since Jordan George netted 13 in 2019-10. He ranked second on the team behind Dickman.
• Justin Baudry’s 19 points (9g-10a) stands as the most by a BSU defender since Graeme McCormack logged 22 in 2015-16.
• Adam Brady and Gerry Fitzgerald led the Beavers in 2017-18 with eight multi-point games a piece. Bauman and Dickman led the team with three multi-goal games each, while Brady’s seven multi-helper nights was tops.
• Brady burst onto the college hockey scene, scoring a goal in the Beavers’ opener (Oct. 13) and didn’t slow down. He netted 26 points (8g-18a) to rank second on the team in scoring.
• Eleven different BSU players accounted for a game-winning goal in 2017-18. Zach Whitecloud, Bauman, Dickman, Baudry and Heller led the team with two game-winners.
• Michael Bitzer finished his career in 2017-18 with a record of 16-13-8 with a 2.24 GAA an a .909 save percentage.
• At 65-54-19 at BSU career, Bitzer is second on BSU’s all-time wins list. Blane Comstock sits atop the list with 70.
• Bitzer rewrote the BSU goaltending record book before leaving. He is first all-time in career save percentage (.921), first in goals against average (1.98), first in career saves (3,165), first in shutouts (21) and minutes played (8,227).
• His 21 career shutouts is a BSU and WCHA all-time record. In addition, he is second on the NCAA all-time shut outs list and sits five behind Michigan State’s Ryan Miller, who recorded 26 shutouts from 1999-02.
• Bitzer only BSU player to finish his career with a GAA under 2.00 with 1.976 (minimum 1,000 minutes played).
• The BSU penalty-kill unit was 115-of-133 in 2017-18. The Beavers finished the season fifth in the nation in PK efficiency at .865. At 87-of-98 (.888), the Beavers led the WCHA.
• BSU’s 2017-18 PP percentage of .217 (31/143) was good for tops at BSU since moving to Division I for the 1999-00 season.
• BSU was third in the WCHA on the power play at 23-for-111 (.207).
• Adam Brady had 14 power-play points (4g-10a) this season to lead all BSU players.
• Charlie Combs led all Beavers with five power-play goals. It was the most by a BSU rookie since Gerry Fitzgerald in 2014-15.
• Finishing his career with 22 power play goals, Gerry Fitzgerald is tied with Brendan Cook (2001-2005) for the BSU Division I-era record.
• BSU’s 2.71 goals per game in 2017-18 was the program’s best scoring average since 2009-10 when it averaged 3.46 goals per game en route to the Frozen Four.
• The Beavers finished 2017-18 with a 13-1-3 record when leading heading into the third period, surrendering its first third-period loss March 2 when it allowed three Michigan Tech goals in the final 6:41 of a 5-3 playoff loss. On the flip side, when trailing to start the third, BSU was without a win (0-10-3).
• After struggling out of the gate, BSU put itself in the driver’s seat for home playoff ice when it went on a 10-game unbeaten streak and eight-game win string versus the WCHA between Dec. 2 and Jan. 20, matching a program-record eight-game WCHA win streak to open 2016-17.
• BSU was 3-5-2 in non-conference play, which included a win an a tie versus then-No. 9 and now Frozen Four participant Minnesota Duluth and a tie versus then. No. 8 North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D.
• The Beavers were 1-3-2 in 2017-1018 when facing teams ranked in the top 20 according USA Hockey/USA Today.
(Complete stats notes and stats from 2017-18 can be seen in accompanying link)