Beavers aim to bring North Star College Cup back to Bemidji

Beavers aim to bring North Star College Cup back to Bemidji
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Beavers aim to bring North Star College Cup back to Bemidji

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The No. 20 Bemidji State University men's hockey team opens play in the 2017 North Star College Cup at  4 p.m. Friday when the Beavers face St. Cloud State in the semifinal round.  The championship is set for 7 p.m. Saturday.

BSU, the 2015 champion, is 3-1 in Minnesota's premire college hockey event and seeks revenge over the Huskies Friday. SCSU defeated BSU 5-2 in last year's championship gameending the Beavers' title defense.

Audio of both of the Beavers' North Star College Cup contests will be carried live locally on Mix 103.7 FM or world-wide on A live stream will also be avaialble at Depending on BSU's opponent Saturday, the game may be televised on Fox Sports North.

Bemidji State notables:
• No. 20 Bemidji State split a WCHA series with Ferris State, Jan. 20-21, to move to 16-9-3 overall and 16-4-2-2 in league play.

• Friday marked BSU’s first loss in nine WCHA home games (7-1-1).  The Beavers have averaged 3.00 goals per league home game and allowed just 1.50. While the Beavers are 11-for-45 (.244) on the power-play in home WCHA games, more impressively, BSU has allowed just one power-play goal in WCHA play on home ice (.974/38-for-39)—Friday’s PPG by Ferris State.

• Saturday’s 5-1 victory marked just the third time this season BSU has logged five or more goals in a game and its first time netting more than four since a 5-2 win over Northern Michigan, Nov. 19—a streak spanning 14 games.

• The Beavers are 8-5-2 on the road this season and have averaged 2.20 goals per game, while allowing 1.73. BSU’s power-play is clicking at .190 (12-for-63) and its penalty-kill has snuffed out 54-of-61 opponent power-plays (.885).

• BSU head coach Tom Serratore is in his 16th season as head coach at his Alma Mater (’87). He is 260-249-70 (.510).

• Michael Bitzer allowed five goals in the series, including a season-high four versus FSU Friday. He moves to 16-8-3 on the season. Among all NCAA Division I goaltenders, he is tied for the nation’s lead in wins (16), is tied for second with four shutouts, and is second in goals against average (1.59), while he is seventh in save percentage (.935).

• Bitzer has played 1,626:37 of the Beavers’ 1,698:42 this year--that is 95.8 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 32-save performance Saturday, Bitzer moves into the top 10 at BSU all-time. In his career he has 2,045 saves, surpassing Mark Liska (1981-85) for 10th place. He is now 17 saves from Jack Horner (1974-78) and ninth place (2,062).

• At 43-35-11 in his BSU career, Bitzer is one victory from a tie with Dan Bakala (2008-12) for 10th on BSU’s career wins list.

• Through Nov. 19 and 14 games, BSU averaged 2.93 goals per game and posted an 11-2-1 record. In the 14 games since, the Beavers have averaged 1.79 goals per game and have scored more than two goals three times. BSU is 5-7-2 during that stretch.

• With his eighth assist of the season Friday, Zach Whitecloud moved into a tie for fifth among all WCHA players with eight points on the power play in league play. He its tied for second among WCHA defenders in the same category.

• The BSU penalty-kill unit was 6-for-7 versus FSU Jan. 20-21 to move to 99-for-110 (.900) overall. The BSU unit leads the nation.

• The Beavers were 1-for-6 on the power play Jan. 20-21. BSU is now 24-for-118 (.203) overall to rank 15th in the nation, while the team is 20-for-94 (.213) in league play to lead in the WCHA.

• With a team-leading two points (1g-1a) Jan. 20, senior Charlie O’Connor eclipsed the 50 point plateau and BSU (26g-25a). Phillip Marinaccio reached the same plateau Saturday with a goal and an assist (17g-34a).

• Phil Marinaccio netted three points on the weekend, including his team-best 13th assist of the year Saturday, extending his career high, team-leading point total to 22 (9g-13a).

• Saturday’s game was Leo Fitzgerald’s 90th career appearance in the green and white and marked his first career multi-assist night. O’Connor leads all current players with 134 games played.

• Gerry Fitzgerald is second on the team with eight goals. BSU is 6-1-0 when he scores this season.
• BSU continues to lead the country in goals allowed (1.79). The Beavers have allowed more than two goals seven times this season. All seven have resulted in losses.

• First-place BSU could clinch the right to host the first round of the WCHA playoffs this weekend despite playing outside of league. BSU will clinch if: Ferris State gains one or more points versus Bowling Green OR Minnesota State gains one or more points versus Lake Superior State.

• In its third appearance in the North Star College Cup, BSU is 3-1. The only team BSU has not beaten in NSCC play is this year’s opening-round opponent St. Cloud State. Last year BSU dropped the championship game to then-No. 3 SCSU, 5-2.

• Traditionally, BSU has played well at Xcel Energy Center. The Beavers are 4-2 all-time with its losses coming to Denver in the semifinals of the Final Five (6-2), March 18, 2011 and to SCSU in last year’s championship game.

• BSU draws long-time rival St. Cloud State in the semifinal. BSU leads a rivalry that got its start 1948, 46-44-5, but SCSU holds a 2-0-0 advantage in neutral-site contests, including last year’s 5-2 win to claim the Cup.

• Senior Forward Nate Arentz leads all current BSU players in scoring versus SCSU. In five career games, he has piled up four points (3g-1a), while Gerry Fitzgerald has three points (2g-1a) including a power-play goal and a game-winner.

• Gerry Fitzgerald opens the Cup as BSU’s hottest player. He has recorded a point in each of the Beavers’ last four games (2g-3a).

• BSU is 0-5-1 in non-conference play this season. The team has averaged 1.67 goals per game while allowing 3.00.