Beavers travel to (16) Minnesota State for final weekend of WCHA play

Beavers travel to (16) Minnesota State for final weekend of WCHA play
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Beavers travel to (16) Minnesota State for final weekend of WCHA play

BEMIDJI, Minn. — The Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team wraps up the 2015-16 regular season this weekend when it travels long-time rival Minnesota State University, Mankato for a two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association match up.

The Beavers open the series on the heels of a three-point weekend (T, 1-1 and W, 6-2) versus University of Alabama-Huntsville and are 10-4-3 since the start of the calendar year.

Seated in sixth place in the WCAH standings with a 10-11-5 mark and 25 points in league play, the Beavers, who already have clinched a postseason berth will shore of their first-round opponent this weekend.

The Rivalry
This weekend’s series marks an extension to one of BSU’s most often revisited rivalries. The BSU-MSU series got its start Nov. 25, 1974 and has included 107 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 49-47-13 advantage in the all-time series and are 16-29-8 in games versus the Mavericks in Mankato, Minn.  BSU opens the series seeking its first win over MSU since  March 6, 2015 (0-3-0 since) and its fourth win in the series since Jan. 28, 2012 (2-8-0).
The series dates back to a time when both teams were competing at the NCAA Division II and II days. From 1981-1992, the Beavers and Mavericks were members of the NCHA and even had an NCAA Division II Tournament quarterfinal match up in 1985.  Since 20011, both teams have been menders of the WCHA.

Bemidji State notables:

• Bemidji State took three-of-four points in a WCHA series versus Alabama-Huntsville Feb. 26-27. The Beavers settled for a 1-1 draw with the Chargers to open the series before wrapping up their 2015-16 home slate with a 6-2 victory Saturday.

• Bemidji State is now 15-13-6 overall and 10-11-5 in WCHA play to sit sixth (25) in the standings.  

• In his 15th season as head coach of the Beavers, Tom Serratore has a career record of 242-236-67 (.503).

• Brendan Harms, who leads BSU with a career-high 17 assists, used a helper Friday to surpass Gerry Fitzgerald for the team’s scoring lead with 24 points (7g-17a), also a career-best.

• Gerry Fitzgerald (13g-10a) scored his team-best 13th goal of the season Friday, snapping the longest goal-scoring drought of his career at 10 games.

• Philip Marinaccio recorded an assist Friday. It was his first point in February. He added a helper Saturday.

• Sophomore Kyle Bauman has recorded at least a point in seven of the Beavers’ last nine games (1g-7a).

• After netting just two goals in BSU’s first 30 games of the season, Myles Fitzgerald has netted four goals in BSU’s last four games, which includes the game-winner Saturday.

• Senior defender Graeme McCormack leads all BSU blueliners and is fourth on the team with 20 points (6g-14a). He has a team-best 14 points (4g-10a) on the power play. He is tied for 14th on the national power-play scoring list.

• McCormack has a team-high 69 blocked shots to sit second in the WCHA and rank 14th in the country.

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

• After going 2-9-2 to open the season, Michael Bitzer is 9-4-3 in his last 15 appearances, has stopped 352-of-378 shots (.931) and has a 1.70 goals against average in 920:08 minutes during that span.

• Bitzer ranks 14th in the nation with a 2.08 goals against average.

• The Beavers’ power-play unit is 27-of-131 (.206) in 2015-16, with a 21-of-109 (.193) effort in league play to rank second.

• On the season, BSU has surrendered 15 power-play goals in 130 opponent opportunities. At nearly 90 percent (.885), BSU is fourth in the country in penalty-kill success.

• After killing over 90-percent for most of the season and surrendering just 11 PPG in its first 29 games, BSU has allowed four PPG in its last four games (13-of-14/.823).

• 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 89-of-101 (.81) in league play to sit third in the WCHA, including a 7-for-8 versus Alabama-Huntsville.

• In BSU’s 13 losses this season, it has been out scored 19-4 in the third period and overtime. In its 15 wins and six ties, BSU has out scored its opponents 39-11 in the third period and overtime.       

• This season, 10 different BSU players have logged a game-winning goal. Brendan Harms has recorded a GWG in two of BSU’s last four games to leads the Beavers with three.

• Junior Nate Arentz is one point from reaching the 40 point plateau. He has 16g-23a in 94 games as a Beaver.

• After a goal Friday, the 44th of his career, Cory Ward is just one point from 80 (44g-35a) as a Beaver. He is currently 12th on BSU’s Division I-era scoring list (Since 1999-2000).

• Ward’s 44th goal ranks him ninth on BSU’s Division I-era goal scoring list behind former NHLer Andrew Murray (46g-69a) who played for BSU from 2001-2005.

• Bemidji State holds a narrow 49-47-13 edge in a series with Minnesota State that began in 1974, and is 16-29-8 versus the Mavericks in Manakto, Minn.

• When the teams met earlier this season, MSU escaped Sanford Center with a pair of 3-2 victories to sweep the series.

• McCormack and Gerry Fitzgerald has had significant offensive success versus MSU during their careers. McCormack has seven points (4g-3a) in 11 games versus the Mavericks and Fitzgerald has five points (3g-2a) in seven match ups with MSU, which includes a game-winning goal.