BEMIDJI, Minn. – Bemidji State University men’s hockey seniors Brad Johnson and Ethan Somoza have decided that their journeys as BSU student-athletes are not over. While both are seniors and have exhausted the traditional four years of eligibility, due to a COVID-19 delayed start and condensed 2020-21 season, the NCAA has given seniors the opportunity to take an additional year of eligibility. The alternate captain and captain, respectively, will complete their business administration coursework and pursue MBA degrees while returning to the Beaver Hockey program for a fifth season.
“We are excited that Brad and Ethan have the opportunity to come back next year to lead our team and better themselves by continuing their education,” commented BSU Men’s Hockey Head Coach Tom Serratore. “To have high-end leaders like these two back in our room next year is huge and will give us an edge as we move to a new league and look to build on our 2020-21 NCAA Tournament season.”
Traditionally, a student-athlete has five years to play four seasons of their sport. Because the pandemic impacted the 2020-21 winter season in ways that nobody could predict, the NCAA granted all winter sport athletes an extra year of eligibility. The extra year means current college student-athletes have six years to play their four seasons. This also means that student-athletes can compete in all or a portion of the 2020-21 season, but it won’t be counted against their years of eligibility depending on their division level specific eligibility rules.
“To be able to come back and get the full experience and play a full schedule for my senior season is an exciting opportunity,” said Somoza. “I think we have a really good group coming back. I want to be a part of this team for as long as I can and lead it as far as I can. We got a taste of the tournament this year. Now we want more.”
Somoza is the first native Californian to wear the "C" for the Beavers. He logged 20 points (15g-5a) on a team-high 15 goals and five assists in 29 games for the Beavers in 2020-21. In addition to leading the team in goals scored, he ranked third among his teammates with 20 points and was tied for third in WCHA goal scoring, while he was tied for second with seven goals scored in 14 league games. He posted multi-goal games Dec. 18, Feb. 19, and again to lead BSU to an NCAA East Regional Semifinal victory over Wisconsin March 26, while he registered a career-best three points (2g-1a) in a 5-4 loss at then-No. 5 Minnesota State Dec. 18. Three of his lamplighters stood as game-winning goals to sit second on the team. He assembled a five-game point streak (2g-3a) ranging from Feb. 25 to March 6 and finished the season with 12 points (9g-3a) in BSU's last 13 games. His 80 shots on goal lead all BSU players. He earned 14 penalty minutes and carried a +2 plus/minus rating.
In 133 career games in the green and white, Somoza has 27 goals and 29 assists for 56 points.
“Looking back at last season and all the extra issues we had to deal with because of COVID, our team was still able to have success. To be able to come back and compete again with this special group of guys is a great opportunity,” said Johnson. “Also, being able to complete my MBA at Bemidji State will open doors for me in whatever career path I choose. I am grateful for the opportunity.”
Johnson was among BSU's top four defensemen in all 29 of BSU's games as a senior. He recorded three goals and matched a career high with seven assists. His 10 points (3g-7a) was good for third among BSU blueliners and eighth on the team in scoring. Finished tied with Ross Armour for third on the team with two game-winning goals. Scored the game-winning goal in a 4-1 victory over then-No. 2 Minnesota State Jan. 29 Was second on the team with 35 blocks, which included a career-best five blocked shots in a 4-1 victory to complete a WCHA Playoff sweep of Michigan Tech March 13. A member of BSU's power-play unit, Johnson collected a power-play goal.
In 115 games on the BSU blue line, Johnson has 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 points.
The Beavers’ 2020-21 season came to an end at 16-10-3 overall after posting an 8-5-1 record in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play to finish fourth. BSU earned a No. 4 seed in the WCHA Playoffs and swept Michigan Technological University in the opening round. After bowing out to eventual champion Lake Superior State University in the WCHA semifinal, the Beavers earned their second at-large bit into the NCAA Tournament in program history and netted a 6-3 win over No. 4 University of Wisconsin in the semifinal before its bid for the Frozen Four fell one game short with a loss to University of Massachusetts in the regional final.
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).