Beavers and Nanooks battle for top spot in the WCHA

Beavers and Nanooks battle for top spot in the WCHA
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Beavers and Nanooks battle for top spot in the WCHA

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The cream of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association crop will be on display this weekend as first-place Bemidji State University hosts the University of Alaska, which is tied with Minnesota State University, Mankato for second place in the league standings, in a two-game series at Sanford Center.

The Beavers are unbeaten on their home ice this season, at 4-0-2, and open the series with the Nanooks unbeaten in their last five games (4-0-1), while out scoring their opponents 22-7 during that run.

Adam Brady has been a vital cog in the BSU attack. The senior co-captain has at least one point in each of BSU’s last 10 games (6g-7a) and leads the team in scoring with 16 points (8g-8a). Brady also has a team-best four power-play goals for a unit that is 10-for-48 (.208) on the season and is 7-for-19 (.368) in its last four games.

Zach Driscoll has handled the bulk of the goaltending duties for the Beavers this season. Starting each of BSU’s last 10 games, he leads the team with a 7-3-2 record, a 1.56 goals against average and a .939 save percentage. He is currently sixth in the nation in goals against average, while he ranks seventh in save percentage.

Driscoll and the BSU penalty-kill unit have been stingy all season. They have allowed just two power play goals in 42 opponent opportunities (.952) to rank first in all of Division I. The Beavers snuffed out 26 straight opponent man-advantage chances since surrendering their last power-play goal in the third period of their Nov. 2 contest.

Alaska arrives in Bemidji, Minn., at 9-9-0 overall and 7-5-0-0 in WCHA play. Last weekend the Nanooks hosted Michigan Tech and split a WCHA series winning the opener, 4-3, before dropping the finale 2-1.

Junior forward Max Newton leads Alaska with a team-high six goals and 12 points (6g-6a), while senior Colton Leiter has a team-best seven helpers.

Senior Anton Martinsson has occupied the Nanooks’ net for the majority of the season. In 11 appearances, he is 5-5-0 with a 2.34 goals against average and .922 save percentage.

The Rivalry
In a series that began during the 1981-82 season and was renewed in 2013-14 after a 29-year hiatus, BSU owns a 14-6-3 all-time record versus the Nanooks, which includes splits in the last three series between the teams. The Beavers also hold a 8-3-2 advantage in games played in Bemidji, Minn.

As infrequent as the BSU-UA series has been, Alaska plays a significant role in Beaver hockey history. BSU hosted the Nanooks for the NCAA Division II national semifinals in 1984. BSU eliminated Alaska, 9-6 and 4-2, and went on to defeat Merrimack to complete its perfect 31-0-0 season and earn its eighth national championship under coach R.H. “Bob” Peters.

Bemidji State notables:
• Bemidji State extended its unbeaten streak to five games Nov. 29-30 with a 4-1 win over Lake Superior State Friday and 2-2 tie Saturday. BSU moves to 7-4-3 overall and is 7-2-1-0 in league play to claim first place in the WCHA standings.

• Adam Brady recorded an assist Friday and a power-play goal Saturday to extend his point streak to 10 games (6g-7a). He leads all current Beavers with 16 points (8g-8a) this season and 63 points (24g-39a) in his career.

• Brady’ team-best eight goals, to match his career high goal total set during his sophomore and junior seasons at BSU.

• Brady has four of BSU’s nine power-play goals this season. Of his 24 collegiate goals, 12 have come on the man advantage.

• Carter Jones logged an assist Nov. 29 to post his first collegiate point. He followed that tup with another the next night. In 10 games, the freshman has two assists.

• Through the first 14 games of the Season, Zach Driscoll has 12 starts and is 7-3-2. His 1.34 goals against average ranks sixth nationally, while his .939 save percentage places him seventh.

• Versus the WCHA, Driscoll is 7-2-1 and ranks second in the league with a 1.29 goals against average and a .949 save percentage and has a pair of shutouts.

• Ethan Somoza recorded two assists Friday. Of the seven helpers this season, he has four in BSU’s last three games.

• Since logging his first collegiate point at Alaska Nov. 1, Elias Rosén leads all BSU defenders and rookies with nine points (2g-7a) and has posted six of his seven assists on the power play to tie Adam Brady atop the BSU power-play scoring list. He enters the weekend second among WCHA rookies in scoring.

• BSU’s sophomore class leads its scoring push with 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points, its juniors have netted 37 points (16g-21a). It’s three seniors have 28 (10g-18a) and freshman 17 points (3g-14a).

• BSU was 1-for-5 on the power play Friday and 2-for-6 Saturday to finish the LSSU series 3-for-11. BSU is 10-for-48 (.208) for the season and 9-for-39 (.231) in WCHA play.

• After just one power-play goal in its first seven games and 18 (.056) man advantage opportunities, BSU has power-play goals in six-of-seven games and is 9-for-30 (.300) in those games.

• BSU has logged a power-play goal in four straight games and is 7-for-19 (.368) in those games.

• BSU’s penalty-kill unit held LSSU without a goal in six opportunities Nov. 29-30. BSU has allowed just two power-play goals in 42 opponent opportunities this season. At .952 overall, BSU is first among NCAA Division I teams. At .969 (31-of-32) in WCHA play, BSU also ranks atop the league penalty-kill list.

• BSU has snuffed out 26 consecutive opponent man advantage chances dating back to the third period Nov. 2.

• BSU is a perfect 6-0-1 when leading after the first period this season. 

• BSU has dominated the second period of play this season. Through 14 games, it is outscoring their opponents 20-5 overall and 16-2 in six WCHA contests. 

• In all four of BSU’s losses this season, they have failed to record more than one goal. When scoring two-or-more BSU is 7-0-3.

• When scoring five-or-more goals in a game BSU is 4-0-0 this season and is 115-5-4 since making the move to the NCAA Division I level for the 1999-2000 season.

• The Beavers are unbeaten in seven of the last eight and have outscored their opponents 35-11 during that span.

• BSU is 4-0-2 at home this season. The team posted 5.00 goals per game and surrendered just 1.83.

In BSU’s last four home games, they have held a 24-5 edge on the scoreboard and are a perfect 4-0-0.

• BSU welcomes Alaska to Sanford Center this weekend for a WCHA clash featuring the first-place Beavers and the Nanooks, which are tied with Minnesota State for second place.

• BSU opens the series owning a 14-6-3 edge in the all-time series, which includes an 8-3-2 mark versus the Nanooks in Bemidji. BSU and Alaska have split their last two series, which includes a BSU 4-0 victory Nov. 1 and an Alaska 3-1 win Nov. 2.

• Senior Adam Brady leads all current Beavers with nine career points (1g-8a) in eight games versus the Nanooks, which includes an assist in BSU’s 4-0 victory over Alaska, Nov. 1.

• Charlie Combs has a team-best four goals, including a power-play tally, and six points (4g-2a) in eight games versus Alaska.

• Zach Driscoll is the only BSU goaltender with time in net versus Alaska. He is 2-2-0 in four appearances with a shutout, a 1.24 goals against average and a .956 save percentage.