BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The No. 20 Bemidji State University men's hockey team (0-2-0) continues its 2021-22 season with its second consecutive top-10, non-conference opponent Oct. 15-16. Friday, the Beavers host No. 7 University of North Dakota (2-0-0) at Sanford Center to begin home-and-home series. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. The teams make the trip to Grand Forks, N.D. and Ralph Engelstad Arena for the series finale at 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
In a series that dates back to 1970, North Dakota holds a 33-4-6 advantage over BSU. The Beavers are 2-10-2 when hosting UND, while they are 2-23-3 versus the Fighting Hawks in Grand Forks, N.D., including two of the last three being pushed to overtime and a 1-1 tie at Ralph Engelstad Arena Oct. 13, 2018. Despite the win-loss differential, 12 of the last 19 meetings have been decided by one goal or less. BSU is 3-5-5 in those games. The teams played an exhibition at The Ralph to open the season, Oct. 2. Riese Gaber and Alex Ierullo scored second-period goals for their respective teams to enter the third period with the score locked 1-1, but Jake Sanderson cast the deciding tally at the 11:02 mark of the third to tilt the contest in the Fighting Hawks' favor in yet another one-goal matchup.
The Beavers were swept by No. 5 University of Minnesota Duluth last weekend to kick off the 2021-22 campaign. BSU got goals from Eric Martin and Will Zmolek, but a pair of third-period tallies by the Bulldogs, including an empty-net goal late, contributed to a 4-2 loss for Beavers Friday at Sanford Center. Saturday, BSU's 2020-21 leading scorer, Alex Ierullo (7g-17a), tied the game 1-1 midway through the second period, but UMD again won the third and completed the sweep with 2-1 victory at AMSOIL Arena.
No. 7 North Dakota arrives in Bemidji, Minn. for the non-conference series toting a 2-0-0 record after sweeping Niagara University at Ralph Engelstad Arena last weekend. The Fighting Hawks' attack is led by Jake Sanderson, Ashton Calder and Jake Schmaltz, who are each averaging 1.00 goal per game this season. Sanderson added a pair of assists in the series to match Riese Gaber (1g-3a) to top the UND scoring list. Former Beaver Zach Driscoll has started both of UND's games in net. He is 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals against average and a .950 save percentage.
Bemidji State notables:
• Bemidji State enters its second consecutive non-conference series toting a 0-2-0 record. The Beavers dropped a pair of games to then-No. 6 Minnesota Duluth last weekend. Friday the Bulldogs got a pair of goals in the third period, including a empty-net goal, to earn a 4-2 victory to open the season at Sanford Center. Saturday, it was UMD again who triumphed 2-1 at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minn.
• This weekend, BSU will face University of North Dakota in a non-conference, home-and-home series. The Fighting Hawks enter the weekend owning the No. 6 spot in the USA Hockey/USA Today national poll.
• The series with UND will mark the third and fourth straight games versus one of the nation’s top 10 teams. A year ago, BSU was 6-5-1 against teams ranked amongst the top 10 in the country.
• In a series that dates back to 1970, North Dakota holds a 33-4-6 advantage over BSU. The Beavers are 2-10-2 when hosting UND, while they are 2-23-3 versus the Fighting Hawks in Grand Forks, N.D., including two of the last three being pushed to overtime and a 1-1 tie at Ralph Engelstad Arena Oct. 13, 2018. Despite the win-loss differential, 12 of the last 19 meetings have been decided by one goal or less. BSU is 3-5-5 in those games. The teams played an exhibition at The Ralph to open the season, Oct. 2. Riese Gaber and Alex Ierullo scored second-period goals for their respective teams to enter the third period with the score locked 1-1, but Jake Sanderson cast the deciding tally at the 11:02 mark of the third to tilt the contest in the Fighting Hawks’ favor in yet another one-goal matchup.
• Senior forward Alex Ierullo has one of BSU’s three goals this season and is one of seven players with a team-best one point through two games. Ierullo led the Beavers in scoring a year ago netting a career-high 24 points (7g-17a) on 29 contests and paced the team with 17 assists.
• Captain Ethan Somoza is back in the Beavers’ lineup in 2021-22, his fifth season in a BSU sweater. A year ago, he posted a career-high and team-best 15 goals, which included two in BSU’s NCAA East Regional semifinal win over Wisconsin. He is joined by fellow captain Brad Johnson as Beavers who returned for a super senior season due to COVID-19 rules.
• Captain Owen Sillinger missed nine games as a junior due to injury but still finished fifth on the team in scoring with 15 points (10g-5a). Returning to the line up March 12, he netted a goal and two assists in the Beavers’ final five outings. This season he has already contributed an assist through two games.
• BSU’s top scoring rookie a year ago was Lukas Sillinger. He posted 15 points (6g-9a) to rank second among WCHA rookies and sixth on the team. He finished with eight points (2g-6a) in BSU’s last 12 games.
• Brothers Owen and Lukas Sillinger have had the unique opportunity to be teammates at BSU. Owen set up his younger brother’s first collegiate goal Dec. 12, 2020. A hockey family, their father, Mike, played for 12 teams during his 17-year NHL career and younger brother Cole was drafted 12th overall by the Columbus Bluejackets in 2021 and opened the season on the club’s NHL roster.
• Minnesota Duluth was 2-for-7 on the man advantage in last weekend’s series. On the season, BSU moves to 5-for-7 (.714) on the penalty-kill.
• A year ago, the BSU penalty kill was historically good. On the heels of program records set in 2019-20 of 11 PPG allowed and a .912 penalty-kill percentage, BSU did it again. In 2020-21, BSU surrendered a program low seven power-play goals, while its .917 penalty-kill mark led the country and also set a new BSU standard.
• Since the beginning of the 2019-20 season, the BSU penalty-kill unit has snuffed out opponent power plays at a 91-percent clip (178-of-195). No team in the country is even close to that mark.
• BSU opens its series with the Fighting Hawks in a peculiar position. It has allowed two power-play goals on opponents first seven opportunities this year and are at .714 on the kill. Last season, BSU surrendered just two power-play goals in its first 14 games.
• The Beavers have yet to find the back of the next on the power-play this season. They are 0-for-4, which comes on the heels of a 13-for-91 (.143) season on the man advantage during which BSU ranked to rank third in the WCHA.
• Alex Ierullo (1g-5a) and Owen Sillinger (4g-2a) led all Beavers in power-play scoring in 2020-21 with six points each. Ierullo posted a team-best five assists on the power play, while Sillinger netted four goals on the man advantage to lead the team.
• The UND/BSU series will see a role shift. Former goaltender Zach Driscoll will be in net for UND after entering the portal to use his COVID year. He left BSU as one of the program’s best goalies ever. He was fifth on the all-time saves list (2,442), second on the program’s save percentage list (.919), second on the Beavers’ all-time goals against average (2.185), third in total shutouts (10) and 10th with 52 victories in net.
• Through two games, the third period has been a struggle for the Beavers. They have been out-scored 3-0 and have yet to net a goal during the final 20 minutes of play. A year ago, the third period was a strength of the team netting 28 goals and carrying a +8 scoring differential in the final frame.
• In 2020-21 BSU has yet to hold a lead heading into the third period. Last season, BSU was 16-1-3 when tied or leading after 40 minutes this season. On the other hand, BSU was 0-9-0 when trailing to open the third period.
• BSU’s opponents have averaged 3.0 goals per game in 2021-22. BSU held its opponents to one goal or fewer in 12 of its 29 games last season. It was 11-0-1 in those games.
• In 2020-21 the Beavers allowed a BSU Division I-era low record of 70 goals. It's previous record was 71 set in 2019-20.
• BSU was 6-5-3 away from Sanford Center last season and averaged 3.08 goals per game, while they have allowed 2.50.
• Senior Ethan Somoza became the first native of California to wear the “C” for BSU when he was named captain prior to the 2020-21 season. In his second year wearing the “C,” he is joined by seniors Brad Johnson and Owen Sillinger, while and seniors Alex Adams and Alex Ierullo are alternate captains.
• Sophomore blueliner Elias Rosén became the first BSU player to WCHA Defensive Player of the Year recognition to cap 2020-21. On the heels of a season during which he netted 24 points (5g-19a) to pull down WCHA All-Rookie Team and Third Team All-WCHA honors, the native of Mora, Sweden finished his sophomore season with 16 points (5g-11a).
• BSU had three players selected for All-WCHA teams in 2021. Elias Rosén became the third Beaver to earn a spot on the All-WCHA First Team, while Zach Driscoll was selected to the Third Team and freshman Lukas Sillinger was named to the league’s All-Rookie squad. Both Rosén (Third Team/All-Rookie) and Driscoll (Second Team) also received All-WCHA recognition in 2019-20.
• With four goals during his junior season, Ross Armour had two game-winners. He scored the game-winner in a 2-1 win at Michigan Tech Feb. 20 and a 4-3 overtime win versus Minnesota State Feb. 27 a year ago. Alex Ierullo led all BSU players with four game-winning goals.
• Will Zmolek netted his first collegiate goal in the Beavers’ 2021-22 home opener. It was his 53rd collegiate game. The defender enters the series with UND owning 11 career points (1g-10a).
• Goaltenders Gavin Enright and Michael Carr opened the season with one start between the two of them. Each started one game between the pipes during the Beavers’ season-opening series with UMD. Enright enters the UND series with a team-best 2.00 goals against average and a .931 save percentage.
• Newcomers Tony Follmer, Jakub Lewandowski, and Jere Vaisanen each made their collegiate debut Oct. 8-9 versus Minnesota Duluth They were joined by sophomore Austin Jouppi, who also saw his first action for BSU. He missed all of 2020-21 due to injury.
• Junior defender Will Zmolek led the Beavers with four blocked shots versus the Bulldogs. Brad Johnson leads all returners with 35 blocks a year ago. Zmolek and Kyle posted matching totals of 25 blocks.