BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Bemidji State University opens its long-awaited 2020-21 season when it welcomes Minnesota State University, Mankato to Sanford Center, Sunday and Monday. The nonconference matchup features a pair of top-20 teams in the No. 16 Beavers and No. 5 Mavericks. The series will get underway at 5:07 p.m. Sunday before a rare 3:07 p.m. opening faceoff Monday.
The Beavers look to extend an unbeaten streak of six (4-0-2) season-openers into Sunday's clash. The Beavers last season-opening loss came in 2012 by way of a 3-2 loss at then No. 9 St. Cloud State University.
In one of BSU's olest rivalries, BSU and Minnesota State will battle for the 129th and 130th time since the series began in 1974. BSU holds a 58-55-15 edge in the all-time series, which includes a 35-23-5 advantage in games played in Bemidji, Minn.
While the Beavers have won just three of the last 14 meetings between the teams (3-9-1), BSU opens the weekend having won two of the last three meetings between the teams.
The goal of the WCHA and BSU is to provide a safe environment for the student-athletes, coaches, fans, and staff. With that in mind, no fans will be allowed at BSU women’s or men’s hockey games hosted at Sanford Center until further notice.
While no fans will be allowed inside Sanford Center, there are still options for fans to follow the Beavers live. All games will again be streamed on FloHockey through the WCHA.tv platform on a pay-to-view subscription basis. As always, all games will also be carried by RP Broadcasting and the Beaver Radio Network both online and on the FM radio dial.
• BSU was ranked in the preseason national polls for the first time in program history. The Beavers pulled down the No. 15 spot in the USAToday/USA Hockey preseason poll, while owning the No. 16 position in the uscho.com poll. This week, BSU remained in the No. 16 spot in the USCHO.com Poll but slipped out of the top 15 in the USAToday/USA Hockey preseason poll.
• BSU finished the 2019-20 season 22-10-5 overall and was ranked No. 11 in the final national polls. The Beavers were 20-6-2 in WCHA play to finish second and earn their 10th consecutive trip to the WCHA postseason.
• Second-seeded Bemidji State recorded a 2-0 win to open its WCHA Playoff series with the No. 7 seed Lake Superior State March 6. LSSU bounced back for a 5-3 game two win to split the best-of-three series before BSU clinched a spot in the semifinal round with a 3-1 victory March 8.
• BSU’s 20 WCHA victories matched its best WCHA win total, a 20-win 2016-17 campaign (20-6-2) that was capped with a regular-season title. It also marks BSU’s sixth 20-win season at the NCAA D-I level (since 1999-2000) and its first since 2016-17.
• BSU’s 22 wins last season matched BSU’s 2016-17 season for second on its Division I-era single-season wins list (22). BSU’s wins record since 1999-00 is 23 set in 2004-05 and matched in 2009-10, both were NCAA Tournament seasons.
• BSU went 14-3-2 in the second half of 2019-20 and trailed only Minnesota State (15-2-1) for wins lead during that time, while BSU’s (.789) owned fourth-best second half winning percentage in the NCAA this year.
• The Beavers were selected to finish second both by the WCHA coaches and its media in the annual preseason polls. The coaches selected sophomore defenseman Elias Rosén to the Preseason All-WCHA Team, while Rosén and junior forward Owen Sillinger were named to the 2020-21 Media All-WCHA Team.
• Sillinger, a Second Team All-WCHA selection a year ago, netted a career-high 34 points (14g-20a) to match Adam Brady for the team’s scoring lead. Their 34 points were most for a BSU player since Jordan George netted 36 (17g-19a) in 2010-11.
• With Brady and Sillinger each over the 30-point plateau, BSU had its first 30-point duo since 2010-11 when Jordan George (17g-19a) and Matt Read (22g-13a) accomplished the feat.
• Aaron Miller finished his junior season with a career-high 29 (12g-17a) points.
• Third Team All-WCHA pick and member of the 2019-20 WCHA All-Rookie Team, Elias Rosén had seven helpers and a goal in BSU’s final 11 games of 2091-20. With 19 assists he finished second on the team. No BSU freshman had more assists since Jordan George posted 21 in 2009-10. His 24 points (5g-19a), was second among NCAA freshmen defenders in scoring, while he is third among WCHA defenders and fourth among all WCHA rookies.
• Zach Driscoll, a Second Team All-WCHA pick and finalist for the 2019-20 Mike Richter Award, finished his junior season 21-8-4 in net. His .937 save percentage was fourth in the nation, while his 1.63 goals against average ranked third in the country. He was 19-5-3 in WCHA play and was second in the league in save percentage (.944) and GAA (1.48).
• His shutout win March 6 made Driscoll the second BSU goaltender since 1999-2000 to post 20 wins. Michael Bitzer has the BSU D-I era record with 22 in 2016-17. Driscoll passed Dan Bakala (09-10) and Matt Dalton (08-09), who each had 19 in a season.
• Driscoll’s fourth shutout of 2019-20 tied him for forth in the country.
• No NCAA team allowed fewer than BSU’s 10 power-play goals last year (103-113). BSU’s .912 PK ranked second in the nation.
• The BSU penalty kill in 2019-20 was historically good. Prior to last winter, the Beavers’ best season on the kill was 2016-17 when it was 139-for-158 and finished .880. BSU’s record for fewest power-play goals allowed in a season was 18 in 2017-18.
• The Beavers allowed a BSU Division I-era low record of 71 goals in 2019-20. It’s previous record was 79 set in 2016-17.
• At the conclusion of the season, Head Coach Tom Serratore was named WCHA Coach of the Year. It was the second time he has earned the WCHA coaching honor.
• BSU added the services of six new freshman to the roster: Gavin Enright, G, Farmington, Minn.; Austin Jouppi, F, Duluth, Minn.; Jack Powell, D, Alexandria, Minn.; Eric Martin, F, Calgary, Alberta; Lukas Sillinger, F, Regina, Saskatchewan and Aaron Myers, F, Thief River Falls, Minn. to the roster for 2020-21.
• BSU and Minnesota State will battle for the 129th and 130th time since the series began in 1974. BSU holds a 58-55-15 edge in the all-time series, which includes a 35-23-5 advantage in games played in Bemidji, Minn.
• While the Beavers have won just three of the last 14 meetings between the teams (3-9-1), BSU opens the series having won two of the last three meetings between the teams.