No. 13 Beavers battle Michigan Tech to retain stronghold on WCHA standings

No. 13 Beavers battle Michigan Tech to retain stronghold on WCHA standings
Thursday, December 1, 2016
No. 13 Beavers battle Michigan Tech to retain stronghold on WCHA standings

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The No. 13 Bemidji State men's hockey team looks to strengthen its hold on the Western Collegiate Hockey Association lead this weekend as it travels to Houghton, Mich. to battle Michigan Tech, which opens the series nine points behind the Beavers, second in the league standings.

Although both teams have storied hockey traditions, the Bemidji State-Michigan Tech series dates back only to 2007, MTU owns a 10-6-4 advantage in the rivalry and have wins over BSU in eight of the last 12 meetings.

BSU and MTU split last season’s series in Bemidji, Minn. with the Beavers earning a 3-0 win in the opener and the Huskies taking the finale 9-2.

The series will get underway at 6:07 p.m. (CT) Friday before a 6:07 p.m. opening face off Saturday. Both games will be played at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

Bemidji State Notables
• Bemidji State’s overall record dipped to 11-4-1 overall, Nov. 25-26, after a 4-1, 3-1 sweep at the hands of Princeton.

• Friday’s loss snapped an eight-game unbeaten streak dating back to Oct. 28 and a 2-1 victory over Alaska. BSU’s longest streak since an 8-0-1 run to open the 2009-10 season.

• During its eight-game unbeaten streak, BSU averaged 3.13 goals per game while allowing more than one goal two times for an average of just 1.23 goals per game.

• Prior to Friday, the Beavers last loss on home ice came to Michigan Tech, Feb. 20 of last season.

• BSU head coach Tom Serratore is in his 16th season as head coach at his Alma Mater (’87). He is 255-244-68 (.504).

• Brendan Harms scored his sixth goal of the season Friday, matching Gerry Fitzgerald and Phil Marinaccio for the team’s lead.

• Harms, who has scored in three of the of the Beavers’ last four games and has nine points (3g-6a) in BSU’s last seven, logged the 80th point of his BSU career Friday. In 122 games, the senior has 31g-49a to lead all active players.

• Including an assist Friday, Phil Marinaccio has nine points (4g-5a) in the eight games since  Nov. 4.

• Michael Bitzer allowed three goals Friday to drop his first game in nine outings. He falls to 11-3-1 on the season. He continues to lead the country in wins (11) and shutouts (3), while he is tied for first in GAA (1.46), and sixth in save percentage (.938).

• Bitzer has played 903:14 of the Beavers’ 968:42 this year. Until Saturday no other BSU goaltender had played a second in 2016-17.

• Junior Jesse Wilkins made his first start of the season Saturday. After sitting out the entire 2014-15 campaign due to injury, the Calgary, Alberta native made just one appearance last season. He took the loss Saturday, allowing all three of the Tigers’ goals.

• As a freshman (2013-14), Wilkins was 3-8-3 in 15 games (815:16) leading BSU with a 2.72 GAA and a .912 save percentage.

• Sophomore defender Ian Janco made his 2016-17 debut Saturday. In 15 games a year ago, he had one assist and carried a +2 plus/minus rating.

• Phil Marinaccio added his team-leading eighth assist of the season Friday. The helper matched a single-season career-high set in 2014-15 and extends his career-high scoring total to a team-best 14 (6g-8a).

• In its last five games, BSU has been carried by its upperclassmen. Twenty-two of 28 points have come from BSU’s juniors and seniors during that span, which includes 17 points (7g-10a) from its seniors.

• The BSU penalty-kill unit was 4-for-6 Friday to move to 55-of-62 (.887) overall. The BSU unit is ninth in the country.

• While BSU is nearly 94 percent on the penalty kill in WCHA play, they have stopped 11-of-15 opportunities (.733) in non-conference play.

• The Beavers scored on 1-of-6 power-play chances, Nov. 25-26. BSU is 16-for-68 (.235) overall to tie for sixth in the nation.

• Harms scored on the man advantage Friday. He now leads the team with a career-high five power-play goals and is tied with Gerry Fitzgerald for the team’s power-play scoring lead with eight points apiece.

• In WCHA play, BSU averages 2.92 goals scores, while it has held opponents to nation’s best 0.92 goals allowed per league game.

• BSU continues to lead the country in goals allowed (1.62). The Beavers have allowed more than two goals just four times this season. All four have resulted in losses.

• This weekend, BSU jumps back into WCHA play with a road trip to Houghton, Mich. to face Michigan Tech in a match up of the top two team’s in the league standings.

• Michigan Tech leads a series dating back to 2007, 10-6-4, and have wins over BSU in eight of the last 12 meetings between the teams.

• BSU is 1-5-4 all-time in Houghton, Mich. with its only win coming 1-0, Feb 12, 2016.

• MSU and MTU split last season’s series in Bemidji with BSU earning a 3-0 win in the opener and the Huskies taking the finale 9-2.

• Brendan Harms leads all current BSU players with seven points (4g-3a)in eight games versus the Huskies, which include a pair of power-play goals and a game-winning goal.