BEMIDJI Minn. -- The Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team (9-10-3; 7-6-1-0 WCHA) is back at Sanford Center this weekend for the first time since Dec. 14 when it hosts the University of Alaska (4-14-2; 4-9-1-1 WCHA) in a two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association series. The two-game set will open a four-game homestand.
The Beavers, who are returning from a road trip during which they went 1-2-1 at the Air Force Academy and Bowling Green State University, are sixth in the league standings. They look to make a move back into contention to host the first round of the WCHA Playoffs this weekend. Bemidji State has just one loss in their last nine meetings with the Nanooks (6-1-2).
BSU will look to sophomore forward Aaron Miller and senior defender Justin Baudry for scoring this weekend. Miller opens the series with nine points in BSU’s last six games (5g-4a), which includes a streak of five consecutive games. He leads the team with 10 goals. Baudry, who has already established a career-high 13 assists to lead the team, has recorded 11 of his 17 points in BSU’s last eight games and has scored a goal in three of the Beavers’ last four contests.
Defensively, BSU goaltenders Zach Driscoll and Henry Johnson have shared the goaltending duties. Johnson enters the weekend with a team-best 5-5-2 record, 2.05 goals against average and .914 save percentage, while Driscoll got the nod in both games of the recent series at Bowling Green and went 1-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA and a .915 save percentage.
Alaska arrives at Sanford Center looking to shake a four-game losing skid. The most penalized team in the WCHA, averaging 21.5 penalty minutes per game, is led in scoring by freshman Chris Jandric, who has 11 points (3g-8a) which includes a team-best eight helpers. Older brother Steven, a sophomore, leads the team in goal scoring with five. Defensively, UAF has allowed 3.43 goals per game to rank ninth in the league. Rookie Gustavs Grigals leads the Nanooks’ goaltending crew with a 4-4-0 record, a 3.08 GAA and a .911 save percentage.
In a series that began during the 1981-82 season and was renewed in 2013-14 after a 29-year hiatus, BSU owns a 12-4-3 all-time record versus the Nanooks, which includes a 7-2-2 mark in games played in Bemidji, Minn.
As infrequent as the BSU-UA series has been, Alaska plays a significant role in Beaver Hockey history. BSU hosted the Nanooks for the NCAA Division II national semifinals in 1984. BSU eliminated Alaska, 9-6 and 4-2, and went on to defeat Merrimack to complete its perfect 31-0-0 season and earn its eighth national championship under head coach R.H. “Bob” Peters.
BEMIDJI STATE NOTABLES:
• Bemidji State opened play in the new year with a 3-2 victory over Bowling Green Thursday. Friday, the team surrendered two goals during the first 5:30 and was unable to recover, dropping the game to BGSU, 3-1. BSU moves to 9-10-3, while it is 7-6-1-1 in WCHA play to sit sixth in the league standings with 22 points.
• January is typically BSU’s best month of the year. Since the Beavers jumped to the NCAA Division I ranks for the 1999-2000 season, they are 66-53-14 (.549) which includes a 1-1-0 mark in January 2019.
• With a hand in three of the Beavers’ four goals at BGSU, Miller vaulted into team’s scoring lead with a career-high 17 points (10g-7a). He has a team-best nine points in the last six games and enters this series riding a four-game point streak (3g-2a).
• After just one point in BSU’s first six games of 2018-19, Justin Baudry has four goals and 12 assists in BSU’s last 16 games. He leads all BSU players with a career-best 13 assists and has scored goal in three of the last four outings.
• An assist on Justin Baudry’s goal Thursday marked the first point for Brendan Harris since he was injured Nov. 23. The sophomore missed seven games. He finished the weekend with two points (2a).
• With eight assists in league play Baudry is tied for 10th in the WCHA and is sixth in WCHA defenseman scoring.
• Nine (1g-8a) of Baudry’s 17 points have come on the power play. He leads BSU in power-play scoring.
• Sophomore Charlie Combs has eight goals in WCHA play to lead all league scorers.
• Miller’s goal Thursday marked three straight games with a goal, a season-best for BSU, and gave him a career-high and team-best 10 goals this season.
• Freshman Nick Cardelli scored his fifth goal of 2018-19 Thursday, marking the first game-winning goal of his BSU career.
• Ross Armour, a rookie forward with seven points, has five assists in BSU’s last six games, leads all freshman in assist scoring and is tied for third on the team with seven assists this season. He had just two points in his first 16 appearances.
• BSU’s sophomore class leads its scoring push netting 24 goals and 27 assists for 51 points. It’s seniors have 40 points (11g-29a), freshman 33 points (14g-19a) and juniors 12 points (6g-6a).
• Dillon Eichstadt’s 10 points (2g-8a), including an assist Thursday, established a career-high for the senior defender. He surpassed his freshman scoring total (9a), while his two goals is a career-best.
• The Beavers were 1-for-7 on the power-play at BGSU. BSU is 13-for-87 (.149) on the season and 9-for-55 (.164) in WCHA play. BSU has just two power-play goals in its last five games and its last 19 opportunities dating back to the third period Dec. 14.
• The BSU penalty-kill unit was 7-for-7 versus the Falcons and is 65-for-79 (.823) in 2018-19, which includes 39-of-47 in WCHA play (.830).
• Last season BSU allowed just 18 power-play goals during the entire 38-game season (115-133/.865) Through the first 22 games of the 2018-19 campaign, BSU has already surrendered 14.
• When BSU scores two or more goals this season, they are 9-5-2. When failing to log at least two goals, they are 0-5-1.
• When BSU plays on the road this season, it averages 2.08 goals per game and allows 3.00 and it is 4-6-3. The Beavers are 5-4-0 at the Sanford Center and have averaged 3.11 goals per game, while surrendering just 1.89.
• BSU is 7-2-2 this season when scoring the game’s first goal while it is 2-9-1 when it opponent scores first.
• Bemidji State returns to Sanford Center this weekend to host Alaska. The Beavers are 12-4-3 versus the Nanooks since the series began in 1982, which includes a 7-2-2 mark when hosting the series.
• BSU opens the series unbeaten in the last three games versus Alaska (2-0-1), while four of the last eight meetings have been pushed to overtime. BSU is 1-1-2-1 in those games with a 3-on-3 OT win Feb. 15, 2018.
• In 19 previous meetings, BSU has averaged 4.10 goals per game versus the Nanooks.
• Charlie Combs and Adam Brady lead all current Beavers in scoring versus the Nanooks. Each has five points in the series, which includes three goals and two assists from Combs in four career games versus UA.
• No current BSU goaltender has any experience versus Alaska.
• The Beavers average 8.6 penalty minutes per game to rank ninth. BSU’s 120 total penalty minutes through the first 14 WCHA contests is less than half of the league leader Alaska (301).