The Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team returns to action this weekend to battle University of North Dakota in the Beavers’ final nonconference series of the 2013-14 season. Following a 7:37 p.m. match up at Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minn. the teams will move the 7:07 p.m. series finale 119 miles west to Grand Forks, N.D. and Ralph Engelstad Arena to complete the home-and-home series.
BSU comes into the series after a Western Collegiate Hockey Association sweep at Lake Superior State University Jan. 10-11. The Beavers snapped an eight-game winless streak (0-4-4) with a 5-2 victory Friday before battling back from an early deficit Saturday to take the game 3-1.
With a four assists in the series, Cory Ward leads the team in scoring with a career-high 20 points and a team-best 12 goals. Matt Prapavessis, who had four points (2g-2a) in BSU’s last two outings, has 17 points (5g-12a) and is the team’s top assist man with a career-high 12. Freshman netminder Jesse Wilkins has come on strong as of late, starting six of BSU’s last eight contests. He posted a career-best 41 saves Friday at LSSU en route to his first collegiate victory. He is 2-1-3 on the season with a 2.16 goals against average and a .936 save percentage.
North Dakota enters the weekend riding a seven-game winning streak. Now 11-7-2 overall and 7-5-0 in National Collegiate Hockey Conference play, UND swept Colorado College last weekend (5-3 and 3-2) in Grand Forks.
Sophomore Rocco Grimaldi leads the team with seven goals, 12 assists and 19 points. Dillon Simpson (4g-9a) is the team’s top offensive defender at 13 points. Sophomore Zane Gothberg has handled a large portion of UND’s goaltending duties. At 9-5-2 on the season, he has backstopped UND on its current winning streak. He has allowed goals at a 2.36 clip and owns a .914 save percentage.
BSU is 2-25-2 all-time versus North Dakota, which includes a 1-17-2 mark when playing in Grand Forks. However, six of the last 12 meetings between the teams have been one-goal games. Last season, BSU went head-to-head with North Dakota twice. BSU was 0-1-1 in those games, which included a 4-2 loss followed by a 2-2 overtime draw at Engelstad Arena in the Beavers’ final regular-season road series (March 1-2).
Tom Serratore (Bemidji State ‘86) is in his 13th season as BSU’s head coach and has an overall record of 208-197-55 (.512). 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 10th season as head coach at North Dakota, Dave Hakstol has led the UND to an overall record of 246-125-39 (.648) and eight consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, which includes four Frozen Four appearances. Hakstol, a player for UND from 1989-92, was an assistant at North Dakota for four years prior to taking the reigns of the program. In 14 years since arriving at UND, Hakstol has helped the Sioux to 11 NCAA Tournament berths and five WCHA titles.
Bemidji State notables:
• The Bemidji State men’s ice hockey team posted its first series sweep since Oct. 25-26 last weekend with 5-2 and 3-1 victories over Lake Superior State. Bemidji State improved to 7-11-6 overall and 7-7-4 in WCHA play.
• Friday’s victory allowed BSU to surpass its 2012-13 WCHA win total (5-16-7) and snap an eight-game winless drought dating back to Nov. 23 (0-4-4).
• Friday night’s three-goal power-play performance marked the fifth time this season the Beavers have scored multiple power-play goals in a game and the first time since Feb. 13, 2013, that the team has registered three or more PPG.
• Four Beavers logged multi-point efforts Friday, including career-highs from Cory Ward (3a) and Brendan Harms (2g).
• Matt Prapavessis posted his fourth and team-leading fifth multi-point efforts of the season at Lake Superior State netting a goal and an assist in each game of the series. Saturday, he scored the first game-winning goal of his career.
• Phillip Marinaccio made a splash in his return to the line up after missing two games registering the first game-winning goal of his career Friday.
• After an assist in each game of the LSSU series, BSU is 3-0-0 when Nate Arentz records an assist this season.
• BSU is 3-0-1 (.875) when Brendan Harms scores a goal and is 5-1-4 (.700) when he logs a point this season.
• With a career-high 41 saves Friday, freshman goaltender Jesse Wilkins, the WCHA Rookie of the Week, recorded his first collegiate win. He is 2-1-3 overall with a team-leading 2.28 GAA and .935 save percentage in six appearances.
• Friday’s 44-shot performance marked the first time BSU has eclipsed 40 shots since Feb. 12, 2010. Since BSU made the jump to the NCAA Division I level for the 1999-00 season, the Beavers are 27-12-9 when posting in excess of 40 shots.
• BSU is 5-2 when outshooting its opponent this season.
• Nate Arentz has played in just nine games this season, but despite being limited due to injury, he has contributed four points (2g-4a). At 0.67 points per game, Arentz leads all newcomers.
• With 10 assists in 18 league games Graeme McCormack is third among all WCHA players. He is tied with Matt Prapavessis for the BSU lead 12 assists.
• Friday’s three-assist performance marks a career-high for Cory Ward and established a new single-season best for assists (8). He is the first BSU player to post three assists in a game since Matt Read did it Feb. 5, 2011.
• Cory Ward, the reigning WCHA player of the Week, leads all current BSU players versus UND logging a goal and two assists and a +1 plus/minus rating in two career games versus North Dakota.
• Cory Ward improved his career-high, team-best point total to 20 (12g-8a) in the series. His team-leading 12 goals stand as BSU’s top single-season goal scoring performance since Jordan George netted 19 in 2011-12.
• BSU has snuffed out 96-of-111 (.865) opponent man advantage opportunities this season to sit ninth in the nation, while it ranks second in the WCHA killing 73-of-84 (.869) and has faced 84 power-play chances--at least eight more penalty-kill appearances than any team in the league.
• BSU was 4-for-11(.364) on the power play versus LSSU moving to 19-of-106 (.179) on the season. BSU has converted 9-of-38 (.237) power-play chances on the road, it is 10-of-68 (.147) at home.
• No current BSU player has had more success at Sanford Center this season than Matt Prapavessis. The junior defender has three goals and 11 assists for 11 of his 17 points at home.
• After netting a season-low one goal in each of their previous three games, the Beavers’ offense exploded for five Friday at LSSU. It marked the second time this season BSU has scored five or more goals. BSU is 2-0-0 in those games.
• Despite averaging nearly a goal more per game this season (2.77-2.07), BSU is allowing 3.06 goals per game in 2013-14. The Beavers have won just one game this season when their opponent scores more than one goal (1-11-6).
• Freshman bluliner Ruslan Pedan has been a catalyst on the power-play this season. The rookie leads the team in power-play goals (3), assists on the power-play (6) and points (9). Nine of his 10 points this season on the man advantage.
• Bemidji State faces University of North Dakota Jan. 17-18. The Beavers are 2-25-3 all-time versus UND. BSU is 1-9-0 versus North Dakota at home and 1-16-2 in games played in Grand Forks, N.D.
• BSU is 1-3-1 in its last five meetings with North Dakota.
• This weekend’s nonconference series versus North Dakota marks the seventh and eighth games versus team hailing from the NCHC. BSU enters the series in search of its first victory versus a league member at 0-4-2.