Bemidji State travels to Michigan Tech with eye on home playoff berth

Bemidji State travels to Michigan Tech with eye on home playoff berth
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Bemidji State travels to Michigan Tech with eye on home playoff berth

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team (14-10-6; 11-7-4-2 WCHA) is back on the road Feb. 9-10 as it travels to Michigan Technological University (14-12-5; 10-9-5-2 WCHA). The Beavers, who look to shake a two-game losing skid, and retain the right to host its 2018 WCHA Playoffs first-round series.

This weekend’s series will likely be connected directly to the postseason’s of each of the participating teams. BSU has a slight edge for the final home playoff spot in the WCHA standings and has two games in hand, but a series victory or sweep could push the Huskies into position to host the WCHA’s first round.  With the fourth and fifth positions virtually locked up, the likelihood of BSU and MTU facing each other in the first round is significant.

The Rivalry
It seems ironic for teams toting histories dating back to 1919 and 1947, respectively, and logging nearly 4,500 games between them, to have met just 24 times prior to this weekend series, but the first head-to-head matchup didn’t take place until Jan. 12, 2007. MTU opens the weekend with a 11-9-4 edge in the rivalry, but BSU has won three of the last four meetings between the teams, including 4-2 and 3-0 over the Huskies in Bemidji, Feb. 2-3, 2017—the last meeting. Bemidji State is 2-6-4 versus Michigan Tech in Houghton, Mich.

Bemidji State notables:
• Bemidji State dropped back-to-back WCHA contests to Lake Superior State, 2-0, Feb. 2-3. The Beavers move to 14-10-6 overall and 11-7-4-2 in WCHA play to own fourth place in the league standings with 39 points—Two points ahead of this week’s opponent Michigan Tech.

• Friday’s loss marked the second time BSU has been shut out this season and the first time it has been blanked at home since Dec. 12, 2015 when Bowling Green won 2-0.

• Friday’s loss also marked the first time BSU has lost this season when it’s opponent has scored less than three goals. After Saturday’s matching outcome, BSU is 12-2-4 in 2017-18 when holding their opponents to two or fewer goals.

• This weekend, BSU will attempt to avoid dropping its third straight game for the first time since Dec. 5-12, 2015.

• Dan Billett saw his four-game assist streak come to an end Friday. It was the longest point streak of his career and matched the point total of his entire 35-game freshman season.

• Senior Kyle Bauman continues to lead BSU is scoring, netting a career-high 27 points (9g-18a).

• His career-best 18 assists also leads BSU, while 16 helpers in league play ties him for fifth in the WCHA.

• BSU is now 7-4-3 away from Sanford Center this season. The Beavers have scored 2.79 goals per game, while allowing 2.21. BSU’s power-play unit is 13-for-56 (.232) and its penalty-kill unit has allowed just five goals (44-49/.898).

• Sophomore newcomer Adam Brady leads all BSU players with 11 points (1g-10a) on the road this season.

• Brady (1g-5a) and Charlie Combs (3g-3a) have led the BSU power-play on the road this season with six points.

• Brady has 11 power-play points (3g-8a) this season to lead all BSU players.

• BSU’s power-play unit is 18-for-60 (.300) to lead the nation in Saturday play, while its penalty-kill is tops in the country snuffing out 50-of-53 opponent opportunities (.943).

• Bitzer enters the MTU series with 2,976 saves. Currently second on BSU’s all-time saves list, Bitzer is 89 stops behind all-time leader Steve O’Shea who has the BSU record with 3,065.

• At 63-50-17 in his BSU career, Bitzer is second on BSU’s all-time wins list.  Blane Comstock sits atop the list with 70.

• His 21 career shutouts is a BSU and WCHA all-time record. In addition, he is second on the NCAA all-time shut outs list and sits five behind Michigan State’s Ryan Miller, who recorded 26 shutouts from 1999-02.

• The BSU penalty-kill unit was 7-for-8 versus Lake Superior State Feb. 2-3 to move to 88-of-99 in 2017-18. The Beavers are second in the nation in PK efficiency at .889. At 66-of-73 (.904), the Beavers lead the WCHA.

• BSU was without a goal, going 0-for-6 on the power-play versus LSSU. BSU is 25-of-113 (.221) this season and is second in the WCHA at 20-for-88 (.227).

• Bemidji State goes back on the road this weekend, heading to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for its first, and only, regular-season series with Michigan Tech this season. Bemidji State trails the Huskies 11-9-4 in the all-time series.

• The Beavers are just 2-6-4 when facing the Huskies on their home ice and look to reverse a trend in Houghton, Mich. Since Jan. 18, 2013, BSU has just one victory at MacInnes Arena (1-4-3) with its lone win coming in a 3-1 victory Dec. 2, 2016.

• BSU is unbeaten in its last two meetings with MTU, winning 4-2 and 3-0 Feb. 3-4, 2017 in Bemidji, Mnn.—a sweep that would put BSU in position to win the WCHA Regular-Season Championship the following weekend.

• Kyle Bauman leads all current Beavers with seven points (3g-4a) in 10 career games versus Michigan Tech, which includes a short-handed goal and a pair of game-winners.

• Justin Baudry has also experienced his share of success versus the Huskies.  In six games versus MTU, he has six points (1g-5a)—that is nearly 20 percent of his collegiate scoring in just six games.

• In goal, Michael Bitzer is 4-5-0 in nine appearances versus MTU. He carries a .934 save percentage and a1.90 goal against average into the series.

• Kyle Bauman played in his 140th collegiate game Saturday. He leads all current Beavers.

• Saturday marked the first time BSU has been defeated this season when allowing fewer than 20 shots on goal. The last time BSU took a loss when holding an opponent under 20 shots was a 2-1 loss Feb. 25, 2017 versus Minnesota State (19 shots)

• BSU is 5-1-1- this season when allowing fewer than 20 shots on goals.