BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University men's hockey team begins the defense of its 2015 North Star College Cup title Saturday at Xcel Energy Center at 4 p.m. when it battles the University of Minnesota.
The Beavers and Golden Gophers play the second semifinal game and follow a 1 p.m. clash between St. Cloud State University and Minnesota State University, Mankato. Losers of the two semifinal games will face off at 1 p.m. Sunday with the winners advancing to the championship game at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Bemidji State won the 2015 title in its first appearance in the event. The Beavers knocked off the University of Minnesota Duluth in the opening round, 4-0, Jan. 23, 2015 before gaining possession of the cup with a 3-1 victory over then-No. 1 Minnesota State.
The Beavers travel to St. Paul, Minn. unbeaten in seven of their last eight games (5-1-2) and face a former NSCC champions in Minnesota, which they are 1-18-1 versus all time and seek their first win over since Nov. 15, 2009.
Tickets are still available for the event at the Xcel Energy Center Box Office, ticketmaster.com or Ticketmaster outlet locations.
For fans unable to make the trip to St. Paul this weekend, as always, listen to the Beavers live on beaverradionetwork.com or locally on MIX 103.7 FM.
All four of the 2016 North Star College Cup games will also be broadcast on Fox Sports North. Check your local television listings for channel information.
Bemidji State notables:
• Bemidji State earned one point in a WCHA series versus Ferris State, Jan. 22-23. The Bulldogs battled back for a 3-2 overtime victory to open the series and a late goal by the Beavers forced a 1-1 tie in the series finale. The Beavers move to 10-10-5 overall and 7-9-4 in league play.
• Friday’s loss was BSU’s first since falling to then-No. 14 Bowling Green Dec. 12 and snaps a six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1).
• In his 15th season as head coach of the Beavers, Tom Serratore has a career record of 237-233-66 (.504).
• Sophomore Gerry Fitzgerald leads BSU in scoring (12g-8a), but has failed to record a point in BSU last two games, matching his longest scoring drought of 2015-16.
• Brendan Harms recorded an assist in each game of the FSU series to extend his lead as the team’s top assist man (13).
• Markus Gerbrandt’s assist Friday stood as his 12th of the season and established a new career-high for the senior.
• Following Friday’s loss and Saturday’s tie, BSU is 1-1-5 in overtime in 2015-16. Friday was BSU’s first overtime loss since a 3-2 triple-overtime loss to Ferris State team to end the 2014-15 season--a streak spanning five OT games.
• After going 2-9-2 to open the season, Bitzer is 4-1-2 in his last seven appearances, has stopped 163-of-171 shots (.953) and has a 1.11 goals against average in 430:47 minutes during that span.
• Senior defender Graeme McCormack leads all BSU blueliners and is tied for third on the team with 14 points (6g-8a). He has a team-best 11 points (4g-7a) on the power play. He is tied for 17th on the national power-play scoring list.
• McCormack has a team-high 53 blocked shots to lead the WCHA and rank 14th in the country.
• The Beavers are 6-3-2 on the road in 2015-16. BSU averages 2.91 goals, while surrendering 2.00 goals per game. BSU has posted a .175 (7-of-40) mark on the man advantage and a .896 (43-of-48) penalty-kill clip.
• On the season, the Beavers’ power-play unit is 20-of-99 (.202), while posting a 16-of-83 (.193) effort in league play to rank second.
• In 2015-16, BSU has surrendered 10 power-play goals in 102 opponent opportunities. At over 90 percent (.902), BSU is third in the country in penalty-kill success.
• In BSU’s 10 losses this season, it has been out scored 13-1 in the third period and overtime. In its 10 wins and five ties, BSU has out scored its opponents 29-8 in the third period and overtime.
• Since 1999-2000, BSU is 57-44-15 (.558) in January—it’s best month of the season.
• A year ago, Bemidji State went 11-5-2 during the second half of the regular season, which included a North Star College Cup title and a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) from Feb. 13-March 7.
• Junior blueliner Ruslan Pedan needs just one point tonight to reach the 30-point plateau (8g-21a).
• Senior forward Markus Gerbrandt enters the North Star College Cup one point shy of 60. He has 28g-31a in 124 games.
• Sophomore forward Gerry Fitzgerald has scored 39 points (19g-20a) in 59 games as a Beaver.
• BSU is 5-5-2 on Saturday’s this season and has averaged 2.50 goals, while surrendering 2.33 per game.
• The Beavers are 0-0-1 on Sunday’s in 2015-16. They have a 1-1 tie versus Alaska Jan. 3
• This season, 10 different BSU players have logged a game-winning goal. No player has more than one.
• BSU takes a break from WCHA play to defend its North Star College Cup title this weekend. BSU is 3-1-1 in non conference play this season and is a perfect 2-0-0 in NSCC play posting a 4-0 win over Minnesota Duluth and 3-1 win over Minnesota State in last year’s semifinal and championship games, respectively.
• BSU is 1-18-1 all-time versus Minnesota and is without a win versus the Gophers since Nov. 15, 2009—a streak spanning 12 games (0-11-1).
• Cory Ward leads all current BSU players in scoring versus Minnesota. In eight career appearances, he has five goals.
• BSU has played well at Xcel Energy Center. The Beavers are 3-1 all-time with its loss coming to Denver in the semifinals of the Final Five (6-2), March 18, 2011.