BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University men's hockey team wraps up its current four-game road swing Thursday and Friday when it travels to Bowling Green, Ohio to battle Western Collegiate Hockey Association for Bowling Green State in a two-game league series. The set will get underway at 6:07 p.m. (CT) Thursday before wrapping up in front of a national television audience at 7:37 p.m. (CT) Friday.
The BSU-BGSU series got its start during the 2011-12 season. Since that time, the Falcons own an 8-6-1 advantage in the rivalry, which includes a 6-1-0 recorded versus the Beavers at Slater Family Ice Center in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Bemidji State notables:
• Bemidji State split a WCHA road series at Alaska Anchorage, Dec. 30-31. BSU dropped its second game in league play Friday, 4-1, before posting a 1-0 victory, Saturday.
• The first-place Beavers are now 14-7-3 overall and 14-2-2-2 in league play. With 46 points, the Beavers hold a 10-point lead over Michigan Tech (36) and became the first team to clinch a spot in the 2017 WCHA Playoffs.
• Friday’s loss marked the first time the Seawolves had ever defeated BSU at Sullivan Arena (1-5-2) and the first time since a 5-4 victory Nov. 12, 2010 that UAA recorded a victory against BSU.
• BSU is now 7-4-2 on the road this season and has averaged 2.23 goals per game, while allowing 1.62. The Beavers are 10-for-55 (.181) on the power play and their penalty kill is 47-of-52 (.904) when away from the Sanford Center.
• BSU head coach Tom Serratore is in his 16th season as head coach at his Alma Mater (’87). He is 258-247-70 (.504).
• Michael Bitzer allowed three goals in the series. He moves to 14-5-3 in 2016-17. He leads the nation in wins (14), is tied for the lead in shutouts (4) is second in goals against average (1.47) and fifth in save percentage (.938).
• Bitzer has played 1,389:26 of the Beavers’ 1,458:42 this year—that is 95.3 percent of the team’s season. Bitzer has played in all but one game this season and leads the country in minutes played.
• Following a 17-save performance Saturday, Bitzer moves within striking distance of the top 10 at BSU all-time. In his career he has 1,925 saves. He is on the heels of Mark Liska (1981-85) in 10th place (2,013).
• Phillip Marinaccio has recorded a point in each of the Beavers’ last five games (2g-3a), including having a hand in both of BSU’s goals versus UAA. He currently leads the team with a career-high 19 points (8g-11a)--a total doubling his 2015-16 total (2g-7a).
• Junior Gerry Fitzgerald logged an assist in Friday’s game and another Saturday, marking an end to a string of eight consecutive games without a point and 12 games without an assist. He now has 14 points (6g-8a) to rank fourth on the team.
• Freshman blueliner Zach Whitecloud also posted an assist Friday, marking his first point since a two-assist night, Nov. 4--a span reaching back 14 games. It was the defender has not scored a goal since opening night, Oct. 7.
• The BSU penalty-kill unit was 9-for-9 versus UAA to move to 86-for-94 (.915) overall. The BSU unit is second in the country only to Penn State’s .925 (62-of-67).
• BSU skates into its series with Bowling Green after snuffing out its WCHA opponents’ last 33 power-play opportunities. The last time BSU allowed a power-play goal in league play was the first period of its Nov. 12 contest at Minnesota State.
• BSU’s penalty-kill unit is tops in the WCHA. BSU has killed 68-of-71 (.958) man advantage opportunities in league play.
• The Beavers were 2-for-10 on the power play at UAA. BSU is now 21-for-104 (.202) overall to rank 17th in the nation, while the team is 17-for-80 (.213) in league play to lead in the WCHA.
• All seven (1g-6a) of Zach Whitecloud’s points this season have come on the power play.
• BSU continues to lead the country in goals allowed (1.62). The Beavers have allowed more than two goals just five times this season. All five have resulted in losses.
• In its last 12 games, BSU has been carried by its upperclassmen. Forty-seven of 59 points have come from BSU’s juniors and seniors during that span, which includes 31 points (13g-18a) from its seniors.
• This weekend, BSU wraps up its four-game road trip with a pair of WCHA contests at Bowling Green State University. BSU trails BGSU 6-8-1 in an all-time series that got its start in 2011.
• BSU swept its series with the Falcons to open the season, Oct. 7-8, with 2-1 and 4-1 victories at Sanford Center.
• The Beavers are just 1-6-0 versus the Falcons when playing in Bowling Green, Ohio and seek their first victory at the Slater Family Ice Center since a 3-1 win to open the 2016 WCHA playoff best-of-three series, March 11, 2016.
• Gerry Fitzgerald is the active BSU player with the greatest offensive success versus BGSU. In nine games, he has six points (3g-3a), which includes a pair of power-play goals and a game-winning goal.
• Blueliner Brett Beauvais has also contributed offensively versus the Falcons. He has six points (1g-5a) in 13 games versus BGSU. That is 30 percent of his career scoring (4g-16a) in just 13 games.
• Michael Bitzer is 4-5-1 with a shutout all-time versus BGSU with a 2.22 goals against average and a .903 save percentage.
• BSU wrapped up the 2016 calendar year with a 26-14-6 record. Only Denver has as many wins during that span (26).
• Bemidji State was 11-7-2 (.650) after Jan. 1 last season. Dating back to the 2014-15 season, BSU is 23-14-5 after the first of the year (.607).