BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team (2-3-1; 2-0-0 WCHA) looks to protect is perfect league mark this weekend as it returns to Sanford Center to host preseason Western Collegiate Hockey Association favorite Minnesota State University, Mankato (2-2-0; 0-0-0 WCHA) for a two-game league series.
Bemidji State opened conference play last weekend with a series sweep of WCHA newcomer University of Alabama-Huntsville. The Beavers used a hat trick by Markus Gerbrandt to spark a 6-1 victory Friday and rode a 13-save shutout by Andrew Walsh to gain a rare 1-0 victory in the series finale Saturday.
Just six games into the 2013-14 season, junior Danny Mattson and Gerbrandt, a sophomore, pace the team offensively. Mattson leads BSU with six points (1g-5a) and is the team’s top assist man with five. Gerbrandt has five points (4g-1a) and his four goals match Cory Ward for a team high. Andrew Walsh has shouldered the bulk of BSU’s goaltending duties. He is 2-3-1 with a 2.64 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. Walsh is coming off a weekend at UAH during which he posted a .050 goals against average and stopped 35 of 36 shots faced for a .972 save percentage.
Minnesota State rolls into Bemidji with a 2-2-0 record and is coming off a bye week. Friday will serve as the Mavericks’ league opener.
Minnesota State is led in scoring by three players with three points apiece. Sophomore Bryce Gervais (2g-1a) is the team’s early goal-scoring leader with two, while Johnny McInnis and Matt Leitner each have three assists. Sophomore goaltender Stephon Williams has appeared in all four of MSU’s games, making saves on 89 of 99 shots faced for a .899 save percentage and a 2.63 goals against average.
This weekend’s series marks an extension to one of BSU’s most often revisited rivalries. The series got its start Nov. 25, 1974 and has included 98 meetings, which is second to only Wisconsin-Superior (129 games) as BSU’s most familiar opponent of all time. The Beavers enter the weekend toting a 46-39-13 advantage in the all-time series and are 30-14-5 when hosting the Mavericks, however, MSU has been victorious in 10 of the last 12 meetings between the teams.
Tom Serratore (Bemidji State ‘86) is in his 13th season as BSU’s head coach and has an overall record of 201-187-50 (.522). In addition to directing the Beavers to records of at least .500 in seven of the last 10 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.
In his second season at MSU, Crookston, Minn. native Mike Hastings is no stranger to the WCHA. Prior to taking the reigns of the Mavericks’ men’s hockey program, Hastings spent three seasons has associate head coach at Nebraska-Omaha and served as an assistant coach for one season at Minnesota and one season at his alma mater St. Cloud State. Hastings cut his coaching teeth as the head coach of the Omaha Lancers of the USHL where he piled up a 529-210-56 record in 14 years and left the team as the league’s all-time winningest coach.
Bemidji State Notables
• The Bemidji State men’s hockey team completed a series sweep of Alabama-Huntsville Oct. 25-26 to open the WCHA season. The Beavers posted a 6-1 victory in Huntsville, Ala. Friday and followed that with a 1-0 victory to close out the sweep Saturday.
• The sweep marked the first WCHA regular-season series sweep by the Beavers since posting 2-1 and 4-1 wins at Alaska-Anchorage Mar. 2-3, 2012.
• Friday’s 6-1 victory marked the first time BSU has netted six goals since a 6-4 victory over Nebraska-Omaha Feb. 4, 2013-- a streak spanning 51 games.
• The last time BSU earned a five-goal victory was a 5-0 nonconference win over Lake Superior State Oct. 20, 2012. BSU’s last five-goal league victory came 6-1 in CHA play versus Niagara Feb. 20, 2010.
• Sophomore Markus Gerbrandt not only netted his first multi-point game of the season and multi-goal game of his career Friday, he registered his first hat trick as a collegiate player. He was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week.
• Gerbrandt’s three-goal effort marked the first hat trick recorded by a BSU player since Brad Hunt posted a hat trick Nov. 27, 2009. Ironically that accomplishment also came against Alabama-Huntsville.
• Just six games into his sophomore season, Markus Gerbrandt (4g-1a) has already matched his season scoring total from a year ago. In 31 games as a rookie, Gerbrandt collected four goals and one assist.
• Bemidji State is 47-43-9 in November since making the jump to the NCAA Division I ranks for the 1999-2000 season.
• Danny Mattson collected assists on two goals Friday, marking his second multi-point game this season. In his first six appearances of 2013-14, the junior has a goal and team-leading five assists for a team-best six points.
• Saturday’s 1-0 victory stands as just the fourth 1-0 victory since BSU made the transition to the NCAA Division I level for the 1999-2000 season. BSU is now 4-67-10 in games in which they had scored just one goal.
• BSU’s last 1-0 victory came versus North Dakota Nov. 20, 2011.
• Tom Serratore opened the 2013-14 campaign with a roster featuring 10 players that didn’t have a single game of collegiate experience. Freshmen Brendan Harms and Charlie O’Connor each posted their first collegiate goals Friday night.
• Harms posted his first collegiate multi-point game Friday netting the game-winning goal, the first of his career, and an assist. He also added an assist on the game–winner Saturday. He garnered WCHA Rookie of the Week for his efforts.
• Through six games, BSU’s rookies have now contributed three goals and six assists.
• BSU’s sophomore class has accounted for the bulk of the Beavers’ scoring this season. BSU’s five second-year players have posted nine goals (60%) and seven assists (27%) for 16 points, or 40 percent, of the team’s 41 points (15g-26a).
• On a team that returns only 35 goals from a season ago, sophomore forward Cory Ward opened 2013-14 as the team’s top returning goal scorer and has come through in BSU’s first six games. He is tied with Markus Gerbrandt for the team’s lead with four goals scored.
• BSU continues to struggle to generate special teams scoring, going 0-for-4 on the man advantage versus UAH. BSU has now scored on the power-play in just one of its six games this season and is 2-for-19 (.105) on the man advantage in 2013-14.
• The Bemidji State penalty-kill unit held Alabama-Huntsville to 1-for-9 (.111) on the man advantage last weekend. BSU has now snuffed out 25-of-29 (.862) opponent power-plays this season.
• Andrew Walsh posted 35 saves seeing time in both games of the series to improve to 4-0-0 all-time versus UAH. In his four appearances versus the Chargers, he now has a 0.25 goals against average and has made 83 of 84 saves for a .988 save percentage.
• BSU welcomes Minnesota State (2-2-0; 0-0-0 WCHA) to Sanford Center this weekend as it continues WCHA play. BSU owns a 46-39-13 advantage in the all-time series that stretched back to 1974.
• The Beavers have lost the last three meetings and 10 of the last 12 games to the Mavericks.
• Bemidji State is 30-14-5 all-time when hosting Minnesota State, which includes a 1-1-0 mark at Sanford Center.
• No current BSU player has had more success versus MSU than Danny Mattson. The junior has two goals in four previous games with the Mavericks. He has eight goals in 59 career games, leaving his total versus MSU accounting for 25 percent of his goals.