BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University men's hockey team will take a break from Central Collegiate Hockey Association play this week and will travel to the warm sun of Tempe, Ariz. to battle Arizona State University in an unconventional series. The two-game set will get underway Wednesday at 8:05 p.m. (CT). The teams will then break for the Thanksgiving holiday before wrapping up the nonconference series Friday at 8:05 p.m. (CT). Both games will be played at Oceanside Arena.
The Beavers (7-5-0) and Sun Devils (6-6-0) meet for just the second-ever series between the teams. The Sun Devils skated into Bemidji, Minn. Jan. 15-16 of its inaugural season--2015-16. BSU swept the series (5-0 and 2-0), posting back-to-back shutouts. Despite being unbeaten in the series, Bemidji State has never traveled to Tempe or played in Oceanside Arena--a place where ASU is 5-1-0 this season.
Each game of the series will be streamed live online at pac-12.com and as always, the Beaver Radio Network will be there to deliver audio of each game back to Bemidji, Minn. on 92.1 FM the River and around the world on Beaverreadionetwork.com.
Bemidji State Notables:
• Bemidji State opens a week of nonconference play 7-5-0 overall following a Central Collegiate Hockey Association series split versus Michigan Tech Nov. 19-20. The Beavers are second in the CCHA standings at 6-2-0 in its first season in the league.
• The Beavers open the weekend series with ASU as the No. 20 team in the USCHO.com national poll. It marks the eight-week BSU has been among the nation’s top 20 according to the organization and it's second straight at No. 20.
• While Oceanside Arena is not a typical Olympic Ice Sheet (200x100), it is four feet wider than a traditional NHL rink (200x85). This season BSU has already played two games on a larger ice sheet. It earned a series sweep on the Olympic sheet at Northern Michigan University Oct. 22-23.
• None of the Beavers’ current skaters or goaltenders have made a previous appearance versus Arizona State.
• Gavin Enright and Mattias Sholl have split time in goal for BSU this season. Enright has started four of the Beavers’ last five games, Sholl started and won BUS’s last game. Both goalies have three wins, while Sholl’s .911 save percentage and 2.59 goals-against average.
• In addition to winning BSU’s last game, Sholl also contributed to the offense. He netted his first collegiate assist Nov. 20. He is the only BSU goaltender to have a career assist.
• Owen Sillinger leads the Beavers in scoring through 12 games. He is tied with Tyler Kirkup for the team’s goal-scoring lead with six, while he has a team-best 10 assists for 16 points. His 1.33 points per game place him 18th among all NCAA Division I skaters.
• Kirkup’s six goals already surpass his previous single-season career-best (4) set in 36 games as a sophomore and account for 40-percent of his career total (15). The Virden, Manitoba native’s single-season career-high point total is 13 (4g-9a), established in 2019-20. He has eight points (6g-2a) through 12 games of his senior season.
• After a slow start, Owen Sillinger has come on strong as of late. In BSU’s last five games, the senior centerman has recorded 11 points (5g-6a), which includes a pair of power-play goals and a game-winner.
• The forward leads all current Beavers with 84 career points (40g-44a), which includes 40 collegiate goals, in 109 games.
• Alex Ierullo has also netted at least one point in five straight games. He is second on the team with 13 points (5g-8a). The Beavers’ top scorer a year ago, he netted 24 points (7g-17a) in 29 games.
• 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.
• 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. He is currently third among BSU’s leading scorers with 12 points (4g-9a), while his eight assists matched Ierullo and trails only brother Owen (10) in assist scoring this season.
• 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.
• BSU held MTU to 1-for-5 on the power-play Nov. 19-20. On the season, BSU’s penalty-kill unit improves to 38-for-43 (.883).
• 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 set a BSU standard.
• After failing to net a power-play goal in its first four games of the season and 11 opportunities, BSU has posted eight goals on the man advantage in its last 28 opportunities (.286), which includes one in each game last weekend. Ironically, seven of BSU’s power-play tallies this season have come in Friday games.
• BSU is 8-for-38 on the power play this season to rank fourth in the league at .211.
• Alex Ierullo has provided a spark to the BSU power-play unit. He has had a hand in five of the Beavers’ eight power-play goals this season (1g-4a), which Owen Sillinger and Ethan Somoza lead the team with two power-play goals apiece.
• The BSU power-play was 2-for-5 (.400) in its series with Michigan Tech, Nov. 19-20. It marked the first time this season the Beavers have recorded power-play goals in back-to-back games.
• Eleven of the Beavers’ 12 games his season have been settled by one goal, which includes a 4-3 overtime victory at North Dakota. BSU is 7-4-0 in those games. Since the 1999-2000 season, BSU is 106-132 in games settled by one goal.
• Through 12 games, the Beavers have been quick to start. Seventeen of their 39 goals this season have come during the first period. Conversely, BSU has struggled in the second period and has been outscored 17-10 in the frame despite three second-period goals last Saturday.
• BSU has scored first in 9-of-12 games, including a Kyle Looft tally just 47 seconds into BSU’s Oct. 15 contest at North Dakota. This season BSU is 5-4-0 when scoring first.
• This season BSU has been great on the road. The Beavers are 5-1-0 on their opponents’ ice and has averaged 3.83 goals per game while surrendering 3.0.
• 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.
• Blueliner, Kyle Looft, is eighth on the team with five points in 12 games for the Beavers. He is averaging 0.42 points per game this season. In the first 62 games, the defender averaged 0.14 points per game (1g-8a).
• Junior defender Will Zmolek leads the Beavers with 24 blocked shots this season. Brad Johnson led all returners with 35 blocks a year ago. Zmolek and Kyle Looft posted matching totals of 25 blocks.
• BSU freshman Donte Lawson logged his first collegiate point Nov. 20 posting an assist on of Ross Armour’s 2-on-1 goal in the second period. It was his second game in a BSU sweater. Fellow rookie defender Will Magnuson also posted his first collegiate assist in the series. It was his seventh game.
• Jakub Lewandowski leads all BSU rookies with four points (2g-2a) in 11 games played.
• Alex Ierullo leads BSU in road scoring his season. The senior has 10 points (4g-6a) for a 1.67 points per road game. A team-best five of Tyler Kirkup’s six goals this season have come on the road, which includes a power-play tally and a game-winner.
• Mattias Sholl has BSU’s best goaltending numbers on the road going 2-0-0 in two appearances with one start. He has a .942 save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average on the road.
• Owen Sillinger paces the team in Friday scoring. In six road games, the senior has nine points (4g-5a) and both of his team-leading two power-play goals have been netted on Friday.
• While sophomore Eric Martin doesn’t lead the team in Friday scoring, all five (3g-2a) of his points this season have come in the first game of a series.