Nationally-ranked Pioneers visit Sanford Center for WCHA clash
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Nationally-ranked Pioneers visit Sanford Center for WCHA clash

The match up
The Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team (4-8-2; 3-7-2 WCHA) returns to Sanford Center to host No. 10 University of Denver (9-5-2; 7-3-2 WCHA) for a Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) series this weekend on the heels of a four-game road swing. The Beavers, currently 11th in the WCHA with eight points, look to stick to their winning ways after closing their most recent series with a 2-1 victory at University of Minnesota Duluth, while the nationally-ranked Pioneers, currently atop the WCHA standings with 16 points, enter in search of their first victory since Nov. 17.

Bemidji State opens the two-game set with DU after splitting a league series at Minnesota Duluth last weekend.  After allowing the Bulldogs three third-period goals in a 4-2 loss Friday, the Beavers used a 33-save effort from Andrew Walsh and a goal from Jordan George, to end a three-game losing skid, 2-1. George’s 11 points (5g-6a) is tops on the team, while his five goals match fellow senior Aaron McLeod for the team’s assist lead. Walsh made his return to the BSU net Saturday after a six-game absence and held the Bulldogs without a goal through 59 minutes of play. He improved to 3-4-1 on the season with a BSU-best 2.48 goals against average and .920 save percentage.

Winless in its last six games (0-4-2), DU opens this weekend’s series after gaining one point last weekend a University of North Dakota. The Pioneers saw UND battle back from two one-goal deficits Friday to gain a 2-2 draw in overtime. Saturday, DU surrendered three goals in the second period and a third period comeback fell short as the team dropped the game 6-3. The Pioneers are led in scoring by junior forward Nick Shore, who has 19 points (6g-13a) and a team-best 13 assists to his credit. Senior forward Chris Knowlton has nine goals to lead the team in goal scoring. In net, the Pioneers have gone with a rotation of sophomore Juho Olkinuora Friday and senior Sam Brittain Saturday as of late. Brittain has a team-best four wins (4-4-0), while Olkinuora leads DU in save percentage (.935) and goals against average (2.09).

The rivalry
The Beavers enter this weekend series with the Pioneers trailing DU 1-11-0 all-time in a rivalry that dates back to 1967. Denver swept the Beavers in the last series between the teams (Jan. 13-14, 2012), however, the series is tied 1-1-0 in games played in Bemidji and BSU is coming off a 2-1 victory in the last meeting between the teams at Sanford Center (Dec. 10, 2011).

The unparalleled tradition
The 2012-13 season represents the 14th at the NCAA Division I level, and the 57th year of intercollegiate competition, for a BSU program which has assembled one of the finest traditions in all of American collegiate sport.
*BSU owns 13 NAIA, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division III national titles.
*The Beavers have captured 21 conference titles in 56 seasons of intercollegiate competition.
*In 2009, BSU became the first No. 16 seed to ever earn a spot in the Frozen Four.  In just its 10th year at the NCAA Division I level, only two teams, the 1958 Denver Pioneers and the 1980 Northern Michigan Wildcats, found their way to college hockey’s grandest stage faster.
*BSU has developed seven NHL players, six Olympians and 82 All-America honorees.
*BSU has compiled an all-time record of 1,002-514-96 (.655) in 1,612 games.

The coaches
*Bemidji State’s Tom Serratore (Bemidji State ‘86) is in his 12th season as BSU’s head coach and has an overall record of 198-169-43 (.536). In addition to directing the Beavers to records of at least .500 in seven of the last nine seasons, 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.
*Now in his 27th season overall, and 19th at Denver, George Gwozdecky has directed the Pioneers to a pair of NCAA Championships, three WCHA regular season crowns, four WCHA Finial Five titles and 15 20-win seasons. He is 432-258-61 (.616) with DU and has amassed a career record of 582-382-82 (.596) which includes head coaching stops at Miami (Ohio) and NCAA Division II University of Wisconsin-River Falls. A 1978 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Gwozdecky was a member of the Badgers’ 1977 national championship team.

Last Season for the Beavers
The BSU men’s hockey team is coming off its second season in the WCHA.  The Beavers posted a 17-18-3 record which included an 11-14-3 mark in league play, which was good for 10th place in the league’s final standings. Was swept by eventual WCHA Final Five Champion University of North Dakota in the first round of the 2012 WCHA playoffs, 4-1, 4-3.

Last time versus Denver
Bemidji State went 1-3 last season versus Denver. The Beavers hosted DU Dec. 9-10, 2011 for the Pioneers’ first visit to Bemidji.  After dropping the first game 3-2, BSU bounced back to gain a 2-1 victory in the finale--the Beavers first win over Denver-- on the strength of a goal and an assist from both Ben Kinne and Jordan George.  Jan. 13-14, 2012, the Beavers made the trip to Denver.  The Pioneers swept the series 6-3 and 3-2.

Beavers picked to finish eleventh
Western Collegiate Hockey Association media picked Bemidji State to finish 11th in the annual 94X WCHA Preseason Media Poll. Defending regular-season champion University of Minnesota was picked as the favorite to win the league and the MacNaughton Cup in 2012-13. The Gophers garnered 24 of 25 first-place votes and 11.92 points per ballot to edge University of North Dakota (10.76).

Oh captain, My captain
For the second consecutive season, senior forward Ben Kinne (St. Paul, Minn.) will captained the Beavers during the 2012-13 campaign. Senior defenseman Jake Areshenko (Port Coquitlam, British Columbia) will wear the “A” for the second season, while Aaron McLeod and Matt Prapavessis were also selected alternate captains for 2012-13.  

Playing close to home
Five of the Beavers’ 27 rostered players in 2012-13 hail from the state of Minnesota.  James Hansen and Sam Windle call Maple Grove their hometown, Sam Rendle is from Grand Rapids, Ben Kinne hails from St. Paul, Danny Mattson grew up in Minneapolis and Matt Hartmann calls Hugo home.  

Familiar look
Tom Serratore returns 20 letter winners from a year ago including Jordan George and Aaron McLeod. George posted 31 points (19g-12a), which included a career-high 19 goals scored in 2011-12 to lead the team, while McLeod more than doubled his point total by registering 23 points (9g-14a) to finish fourth on the team. BSU returns 72 percent of scoring from a year ago, which includes 73.3 percent of its goal scoring (74-of-101) and 71.4 percent of its assist scoring (115-of-161).

Three is the magic number
In 2011-12, the three-goal mark was a threshold for Bemidji State.  The Beavers were 5-15-1 when allowing more than two goals and were 12-3-2 when scoring at least three.  When its opponent scores three or more goals, BSU is 4-16-2 last winter. This season, BSU is 3-2-1 when scoring three or more goals and 1-6-1 when netting less than three goals in a game. BSU is 1-6-1 this season when its opponents have met the three-goal threshold.
BSU 18th in all-time wins
Bemidji State became the 18th program among the 58 current members of NCAA Division I to post its 1,000th all-time victory when it defeated Nebraska-Omaha, Oct. 27, 2012 in Omaha, Neb. BSU’s 1,002 victories currently rank 18th all-time among current members of Division I. Cornell is next ahead of BSU, in 17th all-time with 1,022 victories. Seventeen Division I programs have posted 1,000 wins, including 2012-13 BSU foe Minnesota which leads Division I with 1,655 all-time victories, and is the only program in the nation with 1,600 or more all-time wins, while Michigan is second with 1,552 victories.

Friday is a perfect time for OT
All four of BSU’s overtime contests in 2011-12 came in the first game of a series and that trend has continued into 2012-13.  Three of BSU’s four overtime games this season have come on Friday as well. The Beavers lost their first overtime game since falling to Minnesota, 3-2, Mar. 5, 2011, Nov. 16 snapping an unbeaten streak spanning six games (2-0-4). BSU is 0-2-2 in OT this season.

Don’t call it a shutout
BSU has been shut out twice in 14 games this season.  Lake Superior State held the Beavers scoreless, 2-0 in the season opener and Minnesota State posted a shutout, 3-0, Nov. 30.  The last time BSU was shut out in three games during a single season was the 2001-02 campaign.

Man advantage
Bemidji State finished the 2011-12 season going 25-for-118 (.212) on the man advantage  with a 20-for-91 (.220) success rate in WCHA play to rank fourth. BSU enters this weekend’s series having scored a power-play marker in seven of its last 11 games.  The BSU power-pay unit is 8-for-43 (.186), with all eight power-play goals coming in 12 WCHA games. The Beavers are 8-for-36 (.222) in WCHA play to rank fourth in league play.

It’s a fine line...
The Beavers were involved in 17 games that were decided by one goal or fewer last season.  BSU was 8-6-3 in those games. BSU is 3-3-0 in one-goal games in 2012-13.

Penalty killers...
The BSU penalty-kill finished the 2011-12 season 123-of-147 (.837) to sit 10th in the country, which included killing 92-of-109 (.844) in WCHA play to lead the league. The Bemidji State penalty-kill unit has struggled a bit this season, going 45-for-57 (.789) on the season, while it has stymied out 40-of-51 opponent power-play chances in WCHA play to sit sixth in the league (.784).

Beaver scoring by class
Coming off a 2011-12 campaign in which it led the BSU scoring race, with 126 points (55g-71a), which included netting nearly 57 percent of the teams goal scoring, this year’s senior class is off to an commanding lead in the scoring race. The seniors have accounted for 45 points (17g-28a) in the Beavers’ first 14 games.  The sophomore class is second with 18 points (3g-15a), the freshman is third with 13 points (8g-5a), while sitting second in the goal scoring category, and the junior class rounds out the race in fourth with 12 points (5g-7a).
Power-play goose eggs
It’s not all that uncommon for a team to be held without a power-play goal in any individual game, but Friday the Beavers failed to record a single power-play opportunity (0-for-0). Since Bemidji State made the jump to the NCAA Division I level for the 1999-2000 season, that has only happened five times in 480 games and three have come since the beginning of the Beavers’ 2011-12 campaign. BSU was also held without a power-play opportunity Dec. 31, 2011 versus Bowling Green and Feb. 17, 2012 at Minnesota.

Then there were seven
Matt Read, a 2011 graduate of Bemidji State and the Beavers’ Division I-era scoring leader, made the Philadelphia Flyers’ 2011-12 opening-day roster and scored his first NHL goal in the Flyer’s second game of the season.
Read’s trip to the NHL makes seven products of the Beaver Hockey program to skate in the NHL ranks.  He joins former BSU goaltender Matt Clime (2005-2009) and his teammate Andrew Murray (2001-05) as the only other former Beavers currently in the NHL.

Its share of OT
Extending their March 17 WCHA Final Five quarterfinal game versus Minnesota Duluth to overtime, the Beavers completed the 2010-11 season playing in 12 overtime games, marking its most since playing in a school-record 15 in 2002-03.  
In the 11 years since the Beavers moved to Division I, they have escaped overtime with at least a tie in 75 percent (70) of the 93 games that have needed extra time to decide the outcome.
Since March 11, 2006, BSU is 12-8-23 in games extended to sudden death, including an 0-2-2 mark in 2012-13.

Shoot the puck
This season BSU has been outshot in nine of 14 games and is trailing its opponents 446-348 in the shot department for an average of -7.00 shots on goal per game.  BSU is 3-5-1 when being out shot in 2012-13, 1-2-0 when out shooting its opponent and 0-1-1 when the shots are even.

Big shots
BSU has allowed 40 shots on goal four times already this season. Not surprisingly, BSU is without a win (0-3-1) in those games.

Directions to the scoring column
With six new skaters in the BSU line up, the 2012-13 season brings with it many collegiate firsts--games, goals, assists.  Freshman Phil Brewer and Cory Ward opened their collegiate careers Oct. 19-20 and each scored a goal in their second game in the green and white. Markus Gerbrandt added his first collegiate goal Oct. 27 in a win over Nebraska-Omaha. Graeme McCormack posted his first collegiate point with a helper in BSU’s 5-4 victory over Alaska Anchorage (Nov. 24) and most recently, Brad Robbins recorded an assist in a 4-2 loss at Minnesota Duluth (Dec. 7). James Hansen opens this weekend in search of their first collegiate points, while senior Matt Hartmann (0-0=0 in 19 gp) remains the only BSU veteran without a point to his name.

Assistance from the crease
March 3, 2012 BSU’s defense produced a goal and two assists including a helper from goaltender Dan Bakala.  The assist was the fourth of his career and first to come from between the pipes for the Beavers since Bakala contributed to a goal Jan. 7, 2011.  With four in his career, he is just one behind Jim Scanlan (1978-82) who holds BSU’s all-time record.

1-0 wins...
BSU’s victory versus UND Nov. 20, 2011 marked the seventh 1-0 victory in the history of the program. Since making the jump to NCAA Division I for the 1999-2000 campaign, BSU is 3-57-7 when scoring only one goal.

I am Iron Man
Since stepping on campus in the fall of 2009, Jordan George has missed just one of the of the Beavers’ last 127 games. He sat out of the Jan. 16, 2010 contest at Niagara, but has played in the last 104 games consecutively.

Blueline’s offensive push
Beaver defensemen finished the season scoring in 31 of BSU’s 38 games in 2011-12 and accounted 16 goals and 46 assists (16-46=62) accounting for 24 percent of BSU’s total scoring with an average of 1.63 points per game in 2011-12. In 2012-13, BSU is getting offensive production from its blue line to the tune of 1.2 (2g-14a) points per game. Matt Prapavessis leads all BSU defensemen with six points (0g-6a).

Hints at the outcome
The Beavers are 19-5-3 since 2008-09 when captain Ben Kinne scores a goal.  Last season Kinne had 10 goals and BSU was 6-3-1 in those contests. In 2012-13, BSU is 1-1-0 when he scores.  Alternate captain Jake Areshenko scores less frequently, but has the same effect on the game’s outcome.  BSU is 3-1-0 when he scores a goal.

Eyeing BSU’s goal-scoring record
Senior forward Jordan George became the first current NCAA Division I men’s hockey player to reach the 50-goal plateau Nov. 9 at Colorado College. Only 25 players in the history of the BSU men’s hockey program and just four in BSU’s Division I era have reached the 50-goal plateau. Now with 54 goals to his credit, George will match Brendan Cook (2001-05) for second on the BSU Division I goal scoring list with a goal this weekend. Matt Read (2007-11) set the BSU Division I record for goals scored at 65.

Elite company at 100
There are currently just eight players in NCAA Division I college hockey that have accumulated 100 points during their careers and BSU’s Jordan George is one of them.  The senior has 111 points (54g-58a) in 126 games. He needs three points to match Andrew Murray (2001-05) for third place on BSU’s Division I-era scoring list.
Success versus the Pioneers
Ben Kinne has had as much success versus DU as anyone on the current BSU roster. In four career appearances versus the Pioneers, he has two goals to go with an assist. In addition, one of his goals stood as a game-winner--the deciding goal in the only game BSU has ever won over DU.

Power-play fuel
Forwards Aaron McLeod and Danny Mattson have played significant roles in the success of the BSU power-play this season.  Mattson is pacing the team and is sixth in the WCHA with five special teams points (2g-3a), while McLeod leads all BSU players with three power-play goals.

Happy to help
Sophomore Danny Mattson leads the team with eight assists this weekend.

Block party
This season BSU has made it difficult on opposing attackers.  As a team, BSU has blocked 224 shots, while defender Matt Prapavessis leads the team with 23.

Serratore eyeing 200
With a win versus Denver this weekend, Tom Serratore will earn his 200th victory at BSU.  Already second in victories, games coached (412) and tenure (12 years) at BSU, Serratore trails legendary head Coach R.H. Bob Peters, who racked up 702 victories during his 34-year stint at BSU, in all of Bemidji State’s major coaching categories. Serratore will become the 81st NCAA Division I head coach to reach the 200-wins plateau.

Slow series starters
BSU is now winless (0-5-2 (.143) on Fridays in 2012-13, while it is 4-3-0 (.571) in Saturday contests.  

Climbing the scoring list
Ben Kinne needs one point this weekend to match former teammate Shea Walters (2008-12) for 15th on BSU’s Division I-era scoring list with 70 career points.  Kinne has 30 goals and 39 assists.

Looking for number 30
Junior Radoslav Illo, who has six points (2g-4a) this season, needs just one point to crack the 30-point plateau.  In 81 collegiate games, he has 13 goals and 16 assists.

BSU versus the nationally-ranked
BSU has not faced a nationally ranked team through 14 games of the 2012-13 season. Last year BSU was 5-11-0 versus the nation’s top 15, which includes a 2-1 victory over then-No. 13 DU Dec. 10, 2011.