BEMIDJI, Minn. – Kyle Bauman, Jordan Heller, Dillon Eichstadt and Gerry Fitzgerald will serve as the captains of the 2017-18 Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team. Bauman and Heller will wear the “C” as team captains, while Eichstadt and G. Fitzgerald were named alternate captains.
The quartet continues a tradition of Beaver captains dating back to the 1947-48 season and the program’s first captain Ed Johnson. Bauman and Heller are the 52nd and 53rd players to wear the “C” at BSU.
Heller and Eichstadt follow a line of Beavers native Bemidji players to hold a leadership post. They follow: Jeff Baumgartner (1977), Tony Montebello (1981), Scott Johnson (1991) and Mike Donahue (1998) who have all captained their respective BSU teams.
Bauman, Heller and G. Fitzgerald, all seniors in 2017-18 and Eichstad, a junior, were selected in a vote of returning players.
“It’s really special feeling being recognized as one of the leaders on this team,” said Bauman. “We have a lot of leaders in that locker room, so it’s a real honor to know that those guys picked me and the coaches recognized that as well.”
“It means a lot to know these guys respect me,” commented Heller. “It’s a big responsibility.”
Bauman added, “You take a look back at all the captains who have come before you, even the guys who were here before my time. They have set the path. You try to take a little bit from each of them and build on their success and lead by example.”
Bauman has been a fixture on the Bemidji State attack for the past three seasons, while his speed has earned him time on BSU’s special teams units. In 110 collegiate games, the Apopka, Fla. native has accumulated 59 points (28g-31a), which includes a pair of 20-point seasons and a career-best 23 point (13g-10a) junior campaign during which he matched G. Fitzgerald with a team-best 13 goals.
Heller’s motor and hard-nosed play has earned him a significant role on this team. After playing 21 games as a freshman, the Bemidji native has played in 75 of 80 games and he has collected 11 points (5g-6a), which included a career-high five assists as a junior. He has also been a vital cog in a penalty-kill unit that is consistently among the nation’s best. Heller posted 28 blocked shots in 2016-17 to rank second among all BSU forwards.
Fitzgerald has been one of the Beavers’ most explosive scoring threats since stepping on campus. In three seasons and 112 games, the Port Alberni, British Columbia native has logged 34 goals and 36 assists for 70 points to lead all current Beavers in all three categories and sit among the top 20 scorers in BSU’s NCAA Division I era (Since 1999-2000). The 2016-17 All-WCHA Third Team selection has also exhibited a knack for scoring on the power play. He leads all BSU players with 19 goals on the man advantage during his career. In addition, he has nine game-wining goals to his credit.
After opening his collegiate career with nine assists in 2015-16, Eichstadt became one of the Beavers’ most-well-rounded and consistent defenders in an injury shortened 2016-17 season. The Bemidji, Minn. native has seen time in all situations, even netting a short-handed goal in 2016-17. In 62 games in the green and white, Eichstadt has 11 points (1g-10a).
Bemidji State sets out to defend its 2016-17 Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular season title in 2017-18. A year ago, the Beavers compiled a 22-16-3 overall record and posted a 20-6-2 mark in league play. BSU advanced to the semifinal round of the WCHA playoffs before dropping the best-of-three series to Bowling Green State University, 2-0.
The Beavers officially open the 2017-18 season Oct. 13-14 when they face NCAA Division I runner up University of Minnesota Duluth in a non-conference home-and-home series. The teams open the two-game set at Sanford Center Friday, with the rubber match set for AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minn. Both games are set to start at 7:07 p.m.
Single-game as well as 8-, 16- and 27-game TruStar Federal Credit Union Flex Packs are sale now. Stop by the Sanford Center box office of call Jenna at (218) 441-4031 for more information.
For more information on the Bemidji State men’s hockey program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUBeavers or @BSUMHockey), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Multimedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).