Bemidji State looks to build upon sweep at Alabama-Huntsville; Eyes MacNaughton Cup

Bemidji State looks to build upon sweep at Alabama-Huntsville; Eyes MacNaughton Cup
Thursday, February 9, 2017
Bemidji State looks to build upon sweep at Alabama-Huntsville; Eyes MacNaughton Cup

BEMIDJI, Minn. —   T The Bemidji State University men’s hockey team embarks on its final road trip of the regular seasons this week for a Feb. 10-11 two-game, Western Collegiate Hockey Association series at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. The will get underway with a 7:07 p.m. opening face-off at the Von Braun Center Friday and will conclude with a 3:07 matinee Saturday.

The Beavers look to build upon a series sweep of Michigan Tech a week ago to continue its charge toward the top seed in the WCHA postseason, the right to host the playoffs throughout and the regular-season championship.  With two points at UAH this weekend, the Beavers will win the MacNaughton Cup for the first time in program history and tie up its 22nd conference title since Beaver hockey got its start in 1948.

The Beavers open the series riding a seven-game unbeaten streak versus UAH, which includes a pair of 4-1 victories in Huntsville last season (nov. 25 & 27). In all BSU carries a 46-49-5 record versus the Chargers since the storied rivalry got its start in 1994.

Bemidji State notables:
• Bemidji State earned a 4-2 victory over Michigan Tech Friday, before adding a 3-0 shutout Saturday to complete its sixth series sweep of 2016-17. The Beavers, now 18-11-3; 18-4-2-2 WCHA, have extended their lead  over Michigan Tech for the top spot in the WCHA standings to 10 points.

• BSU’s 18 wins mark its largest total since it was 23-10-4 in 2009-10. Its 18 victories in WCHA play marks its largest conference win total since moving to the NCAA Division I level for the 1999-2000 season.

• BSU head coach Tom Serratore is in his 16th season as head coach at his Alma Mater (’87). He is 262-250-70 (.510).

• Michael Bitzer allowed two goals on the weekend. He moves to 18-10-3. Among all NCAA Division I goaltenders, he leads the nation in wins (18), GAA (1.61) and is tied for the lead with five shutouts, while he is sixth in save percentage (.935).

• Following a 33-save performance Friday, Bitzer moved past Robin Cook (1992-96) and eighth place (2,115) on BSU’s all-time saves list. The junior now has 2,157 saves. He is 44 stops from Matt Clime (2004-08) and seventh place (2,201).

• With a 27-save shutout Saturday, Bitzer increased his BSU all-time record for career shutouts to 15. His needs just one more in BSU’s remaining four games to equal his program single-season record of six set a year ago.

• At 45-37-11 in his BSU career, Bitzer is tied with Matt Clime (2004-08 )for ninth at BSU all time and it tied for the BSU Division I era victories lead.

• With a career-high three-point game Saturday, Justin Baudry has two multi-point games in BSU’s last five, during which he has five points (2g-3a).

• Leo Fitgerald scored his third game-winning goal of 2016-17 and is now tied with brother Gerry, Jay Dickman and Kyle Bauman for the team’s lead.

• Freshman defender Tommy Muck recorded a career-high three assists Friday nearly doubling his season total (7a). He became the second BSU player this season to post at least three helpers in a game, following Brendan Harms’ four assist night Nov. 19th.

• Mike Soucier logged two goals Friday to post his first career multi-goal game, while linemate Jordan Heller collected a career-best two assists in the win.

• Kyle Bauman scored his team-leading 11th goal of the season Saturday. Since 2013-14, only Gerry Fitzgerald (14) last season has had larger single-season goal total.

• Gerry Fitzgerald is third on the team with eight goals. BSU is 6-1-0 when he scores this season.

• Phillip Marinaccio has had a breakout season in 2016-17. The senior leads the team with 23 points (9g-14a). Not only is his point total a career-high, he has doubled his career goal total (17). He had 29 points in his first three season at BSU (8g-21a).

• The BSU penalty-kill unit was 5-for-5 versus MTU to move to 111-for-124 (.895) overall. The BSU unit leads the nation, while it is 86-of-92 (.935) in league play to pace the WCHA.

• The Beavers were 0-for-3 on the power play Feb. 3-4. BSU is now 24-of- 131 overall (.185) and is 20-of-98 (.204) to match Michigan Tech for the WCHA lead

• BSU is without a power-play goal in its last 17 attempts going back six games and is 3-for-27 (.111) since the first of the year.
• BSU continues to lead the country in goals allowed (1.81). The Beavers have allowed more than two goals seven times this season. All seven have resulted in losses.

• Friday night’s come-from-behind victory marked the first time BSU has rallied to win when trailing to open the third period since Feb. 10, 2012. BSU is 0-61-9 in games it opened the third with a deficit since.

• BSU has outscored its opponents 32-16 in the first period this season, which includes a 25-13 edge in WCHA games.

• Bemidji State continues WCHA play this weekend when it travels to Alabama-Huntsville for a two-game series. BSU leads the all-time series 46-29-5 since 1994 and is unbeaten in its last seven meetings with the Chargers (6-0-1).

• BSU is 17-19-3 all-time versus UAH on its home ice and 9-1-1 in Huntsville since Nov. 8, 2008.

• Brendan Harms (1g-6a) and Charlie O’Connor (4g-3a) lead all current BSU players with seven points, which includes a game-winning goal apiece,  in eight and 10 games versus UAH.

• In just six career games versus the Chargers, Kyle Bauman has five points (2g-3a).

• Michael Bitzer is unbeaten versus UAH (4-0-1), which includes two shutouts and has allowed just three goals in four career appearances for a 0.73 goals against average and a .963 save percentage.