BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University men's hockey team returns from nearly two weeks free from competition to battle the University of Alaska Anchorage in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association two-game series at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska, Dec. 30-31.
The Beavers, who are coming off a 0-1-1 non-conference series with Top-ranked University of Minnesota Duluth, Dec. 16-17, open the series as the nation's No. 15 team in both national polls. The team sets its sights on increasing its lead in the WCHA standings. Through 16 league games, BSU is 13-1-2-2 and enters the weekend owning 43 points and a six-point lead over Michigan Tech in second place.
Bemidji State is 11-1-4 all-time versus UAA and enters the series riding a 15-game unbeaten streak, which includes 2-1 (OT) and 4-0 wins over the Seawolves in Bemidji, Minn., Oct. 28-29. In addition, BSU is 4-0-2 all-time when facing UAA on its home is of Sullivan Arena.
Bemidji State notables:
• The Bemidji State men’s hockey team was 0-1-1, Dec. 16-17, in a non-conference home-and-home series versus top-ranked Minnesota Duluth. BSU earned a 1-1 tie at UMD to open the series before Zach Whitecloud scored less than a minute into 3-on-3 play to grab the exhibition win. After taking a lead just seconds into the Dec. 17 contest, the Beavers saw the Bulldogs score once in the second and again late in the third to take the game, 2-1.
• BSU head coach Tom Serratore is in his 16th season as head coach at his Alma Mater (’87). He is 257-246-70 (.504).
• This season BSU is 2-0-3 in overtime games and has not lost an OT contest since Jan. 22, 2016 (2-0-5). BSU is also perfect when extending the game beyond 65 minutes, getting two 3-on-3 goals and a shoot out win.
• Michael Bitzer allowed three goals in the series. He moves to 13-5-3 on the season. He leads the country in wins (13), is second in goals against average (1.46), while he is tied for second in shutouts (3) and save percentage (.940).
• Following a season-high 35 saves Dec. 16 and 25 more Dec. 17, Bitzer moves within striking distance of the top 10 at BSU all-time. In his career he has 1,917 saves. He is on the heels of Mark Liska (1981-85) in 10th place (2,013).
• Phillip Marinaccio posted a goal and an assist in the series, his career-high 17 points (7g-10a) leads the team.
• With an assist Dec. 16, sophomore Jay Dickman moves to double-digit points for the first time in his career establishing career marks for goals (4) and assists (6) during the first half of the season.
• Brendan Harms has 10 points (3g-7a) in BSU’s last 10 games.
• While it doesn’t officially count, Zach Whitecloud’s 3-on-3 OT winner Dec. 16 marked his first point since a two-assist night, Nov. 4—a span reaching back 13 games. It was the defender’s first goal since opening night, Oct. 7.
• Kyle Bauman scored his seventh goal of the season Dec. 17, he is now tied with Marinaccio and Harms for the team’s lead.
• Bauman has scored in five of the Beavers’ last six games (3g-2a), which includes a game-winner Dec. 2 at Michigan Tech.
• Tommy Muck’s assist Dec. 17 marked the end of a 10-game scoring drought for the freshman defender.
• The BSU penalty-kill unit was 7-for-8 versus UMD to move to 77-of-85 (.906) overall. The BSU unit is third in the country.
• The Beavers were 1-for-9 on the power play versus UMD. BSU is now 19-for-94 (.204) overall to rank 17th in the nation, while the team is 15-for-70 (.214) in league play to lead in the WCHA.
• BSU has not allowed a power-play goal in league play since the first period of its Nov. 12 contest at Minnesota State—a streak spanning 24 opponent opportunities and seven games.
• Brendan Harms leads the team with a career-high six PPG and has 10 points on the man advantage to pace the team.
• Charlie O’Connor and Kyle Bauman each have seven points (4g-3a) to lead the Beavers on the road this season.
• The Beavers top scorer a year ago, Gerry Fitzgerald, closes the first half of the season with 12 points (6g-6a), while he has not scored in BSU’s last eight games.
• BSU continues to lead the country in goals allowed (1.59). The Beavers have allowed more than two goals just four times this season. All four have resulted in losses.
• In its last 10 games, BSU has been carried by its upperclassmen. Forty-two of 53 points have come from BSU’s juniors and seniors during that span, which includes 29 points (12g-17a) from its seniors.
• BSU returns from the semester break for a Dec. 30-31 series at Alaska Anchorage. BSU is 11-1-4 all-time versus the Seawolves, which includes 2-1 overtime victory and a 4-0 shutout when the Beavers hosted UAA in Bemidji, Oct. 28-29 this season.
• The Beavers are unbeaten in their last 15 meetings with UAA (11-0-4) and have won the last six games of the series. The Seawolves only win in the series came in the first meeting, 5-4, Nov. 12, 2010.
• BSU is 4-0-2 all-time and has average 4.17 goals per game when facing the Seawolves on their home ice.
• Gerry Fitzgerald leads all BSU players with nine points (5g-4a) in eight career games versus UAA. His five goals include a pair of game winners.
• Michael Bitzer is 6-0-0, with a shutout, in six appearances versus the Seawolves. He has a career 1.33 goals against average and .935 save percentage on 116 saves versus UAA.
• BSU is 4-0-0 this season on Olympic ice and has averaged nearly 3.25 goals per game while allowing under 0.75. Its power-play has connected on 5-of-17 (.294) attempts, while its penalty-kill is 16-for-18 (.889).