Beavers and Falcons set for semifinal round clash

Beavers and Falcons set for semifinal round clash
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Beavers and Falcons set for semifinal round clash

BEMIDJI, Minn. --The Bemidji State University men's hockey team will host Bowling Green State University in a best-of-three Western Collegiate Hockey Association Playoffs semifinal round match up at Sanford Center, March 10-12.

The top-seeded Beavers seek revenge on a Falcons team, which is the fourth seed in the league's postseason tournament, after BGSU ousted BSU from the 2016 WCHA Playoffs opening round series. After the Beavers opened the series with a 3-1 victory on the Falcons' home ice, Bowling green bounced back with 7-2 and 3-1 wins to take the best-of-three series and advance to the WCHA Final Five.

Bemidji State opens the series trailing BGSU 7-9-1 in a rivalry dating back to the 2011-12 campaign, despite BSU winning three of the four meeting this season and holding a 5-2-1 all-time record versus the Falcons at Sanford Center.

Bemidji State notables:
• Top-seeded Bemidji State defeated Northern Michigan  in a best-of-three series to advance to the semifinal round of the WCHA Playoffs for the first time since 2010-11. BSU will host Bowling Green, the fourth seed, March 10-12 at Sanford Center.

• BSU head coach Tom Serratore is in his 16th season as head coach at his Alma Mater (’87). He is 266-253-70 (.510).

• Michael Bitzer allowed four goals in the playoff series. He moves to 22-12-3 this season. He is tied for second in the nation in wins (22),  first in goals against average (1.65) and leads the country in shutouts (6), while he is fourth in save percentage (.933).

• Following a 19-save performance March 5, the junior now has 2,286 saves. He is 93 stops from Dan Bakala (2008-12) and fourth place (2,379) on BSU’s all-time saves list.

• Bitzer’s 22nd victory Saturday made him the first Beaver to gain 22 wins in a season since Steve O’Shea (22-12-1) in 1986-87.

• At 49-39-11 in his BSU career, Bitzer is eighth at BSU all time and in sole possession of the BSU Division I-era victories lead.

• Phillip Marinaccio has had a breakout season in 2016-17. The senior leads the team with 28 points (10g-18a). Not only is his point total a career-high, he has doubled his career goal total (18). He had 29 points in his first three season at BSU (8g-21a).

• Zach Whitecloud logged his third goal of the season Friday. He leads all BSU defenders and all BSU rookies with 16 points (3g-13a), while he was tied for 16th among all WCHA defenders in scoring.

• With 14 (2g-12a) of his 16 points coming on the power-play, Whitecloud is tied for second on the team and fourth in WCHA power-play scoring (1g-10a).

• Gerry Fitzgerald, BSU’s top player on the power play this season, recorded his 15th point (8g-7a) on the man advantage Friday with an assist. He leads the team with eight power-play goals.

• Gerry Fitzgerald has recorded at least a point in seven straight games (4g-4a). With a point Friday, it will match a career-best eight-game point streak (5g-5a) assembled  Nov. 25, 2015 to Jan. 16, 2016.

• Junior Kyle Bauman recorded his team-best 13th goal of the season Friday to lead the team and extend his career high.

• Despite failing to score in the Beavers’ last 11 games, Charlie O’Connor is fifth on the team in scoring with 18 points (6g-12a), matching his 2014-15 total for a single-season career high. His last point came Jan. 21 in the form of an assist.

• Nate Arentz collected the Beavers’ fourth short-handed goal of the season Saturday. It was his team-best second of the season. He leads all current BSU players with four during his career.

• The BSU penalty-kill unit was 10-for-13 versus NMU to move to 133-for-152 (.875) overall. The BSU unit is third in the nation to Air Force (140-157 (.892)) and Army (124-of-141 (.879)), while it was 98-of-107 (.917) in league play to pace the WCHA.

• BSU was 0-for-5 on the power play Saturday to snap a five-game power-play scoring streak. BSU is  30-for-159 (.189) overall.

• BSU continues to lead the country in goals allowed (1.87), while it allowed a meager 1.57 in WCHA play. The Beavers have allowed more than three goals just nine times this season. All nine have resulted in losses.

• BSU has won six of the last seven match-ups with NMU, are unbeaten in 11 of the last 13 meetings (9-2-2). Saturday’s 4-2 loss to NMU stood as the first suffered by BSU in the series since Oct. 31, 2015 and the first loss to NMU at home since Jan. 4, 2014.

• The Beavers are 6-4-1 versus NMU when facing at Sanford Center.

• Brendan Harms has scored 10 points (2g-8a) in seven games versus NMU this season, including a four-assist night Nov. 19.

• Michael Bitzer is 9-2-2 with five shutouts in 13 appearances versus NMU. He owns a 0.99 goals against average and a .957 save percentage in the series.

• Since joining the WCHA in 2010-11, BSU is 6-12 in postseason play including a 5-11 mark in first round/quarterfinal action.

• Gerry Fitzgerald leads BSU with seven points (2g-5a) in eight career WCHA playoff games. Fitzgerald has an assists on BSU’s last three postseason game-winning goals.

• With 13 homes wins in 2016-17, BSU has posted its best single-season win total since the team was 13-3-1 in 1996-97.

• BSU now shift its focus to Bowling Green. BSU is 3-1-0 versus BGSU this season and 7-9-1 versus the Falcons all-time, which includes a 5-2-1 mark versus Bowling Green at Sanford Center. BSU is 1-2 versus the BGSU in postseason play (2016).

• Brendan Harms leads all current BSU players with nine pints (4g-5a) in 13 career games versus the Falcons, while Kyle Bauman has seven points (4g-3a) in 11 games.

• Michael Bitzer  is 5-6-1 all-time versus BGSU with a .2.19 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.