BSU wraps up home season with Chargers

BSU wraps up home season with Chargers
Thursday, February 25, 2016
BSU wraps up home season with Chargers

BEMIDJI, Minn. — The Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team wraps up its 2015-16 home season this weekend as it hosts long-time rival University of Alabama-Huntsville (6-19-5; 4-15-5 WCHA) in a two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association match up.

The Beavers open the series riding a five-game winning streak versus the Chargers, which includes a 4-1 and 4-1 sweep if UAH in Huntsville, Ala., Nov. 25 and 27, and seek their second home sweep of the season.  Brendan Harms logged a pair of goals last weekend to record his 21st and 22nd points of the season (7g-15a) to match Gerry Fitzgerald atop the team’s scoring list. Harms, who has seven points (3g-4a) and two game-winning goals in the Beavers’ last nine games, leads the team with a career-high 15 assists. Fitzgerald is the Beavers’ top goal scorer with a career-high 12, but has not found the back of the net since Jan. 16--the longest goal scoring drought of his career (nine games). Kyle Bauman comes into the series as BSU’s hottest player. The sophomore forward has recorded six points (1g-5a) in BSU’s last six games to account for nearly 40 percent of his scoring this season. Sophomore Michael Bitzer has taken control of Bemidji State’s goaltending duties. He has started BSU’s last 14 contests and is 8-4-2, has stopped 315-of-338 shots (.932), has a 1.74 goals against average and three shutouts in 795:11 minutes during that span.  

Alabama-Huntsville opens the series after being swept (3-0 and 3-1) at Northern Michigan last weekend. The Chargers are without a win in their last five games (0-3-2) and have not won a road games since a 2-1 victory at Alaska Anchorage, Jan. 29. UAH, which is averaging 2.12 goals per game in league play this season, is led offensively by sophomore forward Max McHugh. The senior has a team-best 15 assists to go with six goals for 21 points. The Chargers’ top goal scorer is senior Chad Brears, who has  a career-high nine lamplighters this season.  UAH rotated goaltenders this season, but junior Matt Larose has come on as of late, getting the start in eight of the Chargers’ last nine games. He is 4-6-3 on the season with a 2.30 goals against average and a .929 save percentage to go with a shutout.

The Rivalry
The Bemidji State/Alabama-Huntsville rivalry got its start March 11, 1994. The Beavers hold a 45-29-4 lead in the all-time series including a dominant 33-4-3 mark versus the Chargers since Mar. 3, 2006.  The Beavers enter this weekend’s series unbeaten by UAH in 22 of the last 24 meetings (21-2-1), which includes a five-game winning streak versus UAH stretching back to Feb. 28, 2014.
In addition to being charter members of College Hockey America, these teams have a long-standing, bitter rivalry dating back to the NCAA Division II days. The Chargers and Beavers met in the national tournament on four occasions with BSU defeating UAH for NCAA Division II titles in 1994 and at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse in 1997.

Bemidji State notables:
• Bemidji State split its WCHA series versus No. 14 Michigan Tech, Feb. 19-20. After the Beavers posted a 3-0 victory to open the series, MTU countered with a 9-2 win in the finale.

• Friday’s shutout stood at BSU’s fifth of the season—it’s largest total since posting seven in 2007-08.

• Bemidji State is now 14-13-5 overall and 9-11-4 in WCHA play to sit sixth (22), six points out of a tie with Northern Michigan (28) and Ferris State (28) for fifth.  

• In his 15th season at BSU, Tom Serratore has a career record of 241-236-66 (.503) and is 40-12-4 versus UAH.

• Bitzer’s 26-save shutout Friday was his fifth of 2015-16 to lead the WCHA and tie for fourth in the nation. He now has nine career shutouts.

• Bitzer ties BSU greats Blane Comstock (1968-69), Jack Horner (1976-77) and Matt Climie (2007-08) atop the Beavers’ single-season list and is tied with Comstock (1967-71) and Jim Scanlan (1978-82) on BSU’s career list. Only Clime has more career shutouts (12).

• After going 2-9-2 to open the season, Michael Bitzer is 8-4-2 in his last 14 appearances, has stopped 315-of-338 shots (.932) and has a 1.74 goals against average in 795:11 minutes during that span.

• Brendan Harms, who leads BSU with a career-high 15 assists, recorded his first multi-goal game since Oct. 10, 2014 (59 games) Friday to tie Gerry Fitzgerald for the team’s scoring lead with 22 points (7g-15a).

• BSU’s leading scorer Gerry Fitzgerald (12g-10a) has not found the back of the net since Jan. 16 (0g-2a)—a streak spanning nine games, to surpass the longest goal-scoring drought of his career (Dec. 6, 2014 – Jan. 23, 2015).

• Freshman defender Justin Baudry posted the third multi-point game of his career Friday (2a), shaking a five-game scoring drought dating back to Jan. 15.

• Brett Beauvais has five points (1g-4a) in 2015-16. He has a point in three of BSU’s last five games (1g-2a).

• Sophomore Kyle Bauman has recorded at least a point in six of the Beavers’ last seven games (1g-5a).

• Miles Fitzgerald has five points (4g-1a) in 13 games this season and has a goal in each of the Beavers’ last two outings.

• Graeme McCormack leads all BSU blueliners and is fifth on the team with 16 points (6g-10a). He has a team-best 12 points (4g-8a) on the power play.

• McCormack has a team-high 67 blocked shots to lead the WCHA and rank 14th in the country.

• The BSU power-play unit is 24-of-121 (.189) in 2015-16, while posting an 18-of-99 (.182) effort in the WCHA to rank second.

• BSU scored it’s 24th power-play goal of 2015-16 Friday. It’s best PPG total since 2011-12 (25-of-118/.212).

• This season, BSU has surrendered 14 power-play goals in 126 opponent opportunities. At nearly 90 percent (.889), BSU is fourth in the country in penalty-kill success.

• Since moving to the NCAA Division I level, BSU has never allowed fewer than 20 power-play goals in a season and has only once (2004-05/.868/190-of-219) finished with a penalty-kill percentage over .860.

• The Beavers’ PK is 82-of-93 (.882) in league play to sit third in the WCHA.

• In BSU’s 13 losses this season, it has been out scored 19-4 in the third period and overtime. In its 14 wins and five ties, BSU has out scored its opponents 37-10 in the third period and overtime.       

• This season, 10 different BSU players have logged a game-winning goal. Harms has a GWG in two of BSU’s last three games.

• Junior Nate Arentz is one point from reaching the 40 point plateau. He has 16g-23a in 92 games as a Beaver.

• Friday’s victory was just the fifth home win of the season (5-7-3) and the second home win in WCHA play (2-7-2).

• When Juniors Brendan Harms and Phillip Marinaccio hit the ice Friday, it will mark their 100th game at BSU.

• The Beavers own a 45-29-4 advantage in a series that got its start in 1994, have earned a win in nine of the last 10 meetings and ride a five-game winning streak versus UAH.

• BSU is 25-9-1 when hosing the Chargers, including wins the last three times UAH has visited Sanford Center.

• Seniors Markus Gerbrandt (3g-5a) and John Parker (4g-4a) have had the most success versus UAH.

• Goaltender Michael Bitzer is perfect versus UAH. In two appearances, he is 2-0-0 with a pair of shutouts.