Bemidji State hockey gameday: BSU-Miami series preview, BSU team preview, BSU television broadcast schedule on Lakeland, news around the WCHA, Millsy’s future and former Beaver update

Dan Bakala gloves a shot during pregame warmups last Sunday at The Sanford Center. The Bemidji State men's hockey team opens the regular season Friday and Saturday at No. 2 ranked Miami in Oxford Ohio. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji State men’s hockey team counted on Matt Read and Ian Lowe over the course of the last few seasons when a goal was needed or there was a pressure situation with the game on the line.

Finding a way to move on without the two graduated forwards is the biggest challenge for the Beavers entering the 2011-12 season, which starts this weekend at No. 2 Miami. Game time Friday is 6:35 p.m. and Saturday is 6:05 p.m.

The BSU-Miami matchup has turned into a non-conference rivalry in recent years. The RedHawks defeated BSU 4-1 in the 2009 Frozen Four semifinal and BSU won the rematch 3-2 the following season at the North Dakota Holiday Classic when Miami was ranked No. 1.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” BSU defenseman and alternate captain Brad Hunt said. “We’re 1-1 right now, it’s a clean slate, they want to win two games and we want to win two games. Eight of our first 10 games are on the road so we want to get off to a positive start.”

Coach Rico Blasi’s RedHawks reached the NCAA Tournament last season and are a favorite to win the Central Collegiate Hockey Association this season. Miami forwards Reilly Smith, Alden Hirschfeld lead a balanced attack and NHL draft pick Will Weber leads the defense.

“We’re going into their barn, it’s their home opener, they’re going to be big, fast and skilled – it’s going to be a fun weekend,” BSU defenseman and alternate captain Jake Areshenko said.

Forwards

Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore talked about the personnel adjustment the offense will face at the start of the season.

“The whole complexion of our team is going to look different without Matt Read and Ian Lowe,” Serratore said. “With those two guys gone, who’s going to step up? It’s up for grabs right there but you hope some of the upperclassmen who watched those guys play, who were mentored by those guys can step up and play.”

Read, who now plays with the Philadelphia Flyers, and Lowe combined for 34 of BSU’s 89 goals last season. Junior Jordan George finished with 17 goals and a team-high 36 points last season as a sophomore was the only other player to score more than 10 goals last season.

Jamie MacQueen closed out his junior season strong for the Beavers and was an impact player in the Nebraska-Omaha playoff series win. He will be playing on the top line with George and junior captain Ben Kinne, who returns after missing last season recovering from a stroke. Kinne had 10 goals and 24 points in his sophomore season two years ago.

Sophomore Radoslav Illo, an Anaheim Ducks draft pick, senior Shea Walters and junior transfer David Boehm from U-Massachussets will also be looked on to provide goals. Aaron McLeod and Jeff Jubinville found a scoring touch late last season.

Seniors Darcy Findlay and Drew Fisher bring a physical play and energy to the group of forwards.

“We have an idea what we might see, but right now it is an unknown right now and premature to talk about the complexion of these forwards – there’s a little pressure on them,” Serratore said.

Defense

Bemidji State’s defense is established and experienced.

“The defense has very good balance and even the bottom of our defensive corps are guys we feel that can contribute to this hockey team,” Serratore said. “We like a lot of the attributes these guys have.”

The BSU defense is led by Hunt and Areshenko.

Hunt brings an offensive element to the defense, can play significant time on defense and his 18 assists ranked second on the team last year.

Areshenko is more of a traditional defenseman and will see a bump in playing time this season. He will likely be matched up against opposing team’s top players.

Matt Carlson and Sam Rendle will be key contributors. Kyle Brodie and Brady Wacker should also make an impact.

Goalies

The defense is further boosted by the experienced tandem of senior goalie Dan Bakala and junior backup Mathieu Dugas.

Bakala took over the starting role at BSU in 2010 after Matt Dalton left school early to sign a pro contract and has held the position ever since.

“We have a lot of confidence in Baks and look at what he’s accomplished the last few years,” Serratore said. “He’s had two phenomenal years and probably the best back-to-back years of any Beaver goalie ever. We’ve had some great goalies here the past 10 years.”

Bakala started in 31 games last season and won 14. He ended the year with a .919 save percentage and a 2.47 goals against average.

Dugas started seven games last season and his lone victory was a shutout against Alaska-Anchorage to help give BSU its first win at the Sanford Center.

Freshmen

There are eight freshmen on the roster this season out of the junior leagues: forward Danny Mattson from Minneapolis, forward Mitch Cain from Fort Frances, forward Sean Rudy from Long Sault, Ont., forward Tyler Tosunian from Whittier, Calif., defenseman Sam Windle from Maple Grove, defenseman Matt Prapavessis from Oakville, Ont. and goalie Andrew Walsh from Dawson Creek, B.C.

“Those guys are getting acclimated to the pace of college hockey and the expectations we have as far as practice habits,” Serratore said. “They are trying to get comfortable from that standpoint but there are going to be some guys who have to play – time will tell for everybody.”

Serratore is pleased with the defensemen at this stage of the season and feels the transition for that group will easier than the forwards.

The Beavers finished last season 15-18-5 overall and were 10th in the WCHA. BSU upset Nebraska-Omaha in the first round of the WCHA playoffs and gave eventual national champion Minnesota-Duluth its last loss of the season in a WCHA Final Five quarterfinal.

“It was a positive note at the end of the year – making it to the Final Five, winning a game at the Final Five – the guys felt good about themselves as they should,” Serratore said. “We look back on those experiences on the road and how we got to the Xcel Center and hope that carries over into this year.”

Watch the series

Fans wanting to watch the BSU-Miami series this weekend can do so on Miami All-Access. There is a $9.95 monthly fee to use the service.

BSU hockey radio information

Brian Schultz and Brian Bissonnette are the radio voices of BSU men’s hockey and all games can be heard locally on The Mix 103.7 FM. Internet broadcasts are live on the Beaver Radio Network’s website.

Kelly Schultz is the radio voice of BSU women’s hockey and those games can be heard locally on FM 92.1 The River. Games can also be heard live on the Beaver Radio Network’s Website.

BSU hockey broadcast schedule on Lakeland Public Television

From a press release issued this week by Lakeland:

All Bemidji State University Men’s Hockey home games will be broadcast on Lakeland’s main channel “Lakeland Prime” in high definition. The games will also be available live statewide in standard definition on all Minnesota Public Televisions stations on the Minnesota Channel. The Minnesota Channel is a collaborative effort of all Minnesota’s Public Television stations around the state.  Minnesota Channel carriage will make all of these Men’s Beaver hockey games available live statewide    both over the air and on virtually all cable systems. Also, viewers in parts of North Dakota and Wisconsin will receive the games. In addition to live coverage, each broadcast will be replayed in high definition at midnight on Lakeland’s primary channel, “Lakeland Prime”.

For those viewers wishing to see our normal Lakeland Prime Friday night lineup including Almanac, BBC Newsnight, Washington Week, and Need to Know; this entire regular lineup (from 7 to 10pm) will air on Lakeland Plus during that time on any Friday night that we will be airing live Beaver hockey. Lakeland Plus is available over-the-air and on many cable systems throughout our viewing area. Check with your local cable operator for the channel number for Lakeland Plus in your community.

The entire 2010-2011 Lakeland broadcast schedule:

Friday, October 21: BSU vs. Michigan Tech – 7:30pm
Saturday, October 22: BSU vs. Michigan Tech – 7:00pm
Friday, November 11: BSU vs. Nebraska-Omaha – 7:30pm
Saturday, November 12: BSU vs. Nebraska-Omaha – 7:00pm
Saturday, November 19: BSU vs. North Dakota – 7:00pm
Sunday, November 20: BSU vs. North Dakota  – 5:00pm
Friday, December 9: BSU vs. Denver – 7:30pm
Saturday, December 10: BSU vs. Denver – 7:00pm
Friday, December 16: BSU vs. Alabama-Huntsville – 7:30pm
Saturday, December 17: BSU vs. Alabama-Huntsville – 7:00pm
Friday, December 30: BSU vs. Bowling Green – 7:30pm
Saturday, December 31: BSU vs. Bowling Green – 7:00pm
Friday, January 27: BSU vs. Minnesota State – 7:30pm
Saturday, January 28: BSU vs. Minnesota State – 7:00pm
Friday, February 10: BSU vs. Colorado College – 7:30pm
Saturday, February 11: BSU vs. Colorado College  – 7:00pm
Friday, February 24: BSU vs. Wisconsin – 7:30pm
Saturday, February 25: BSU vs. Wisconsin – 7:00pm

Weekly reading

This is the part of the blog during hockey season where I bring stories to you from around the WCHA (and sometimes other places) that I find interesting around the web.

Matt Read made his NHL regular season debut Thursday night in Philadelphia’s 2-1 win over the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins Thursday night. He did not register a point and played 12:17 in the game, 2:40 on the power play. Associated Press via Toronto Globe and Mail.

Former BSU player Andrew Murray (2001-05) is expected to play on the fourth line for the San Jose Sharks in its season opener Saturday night against Phoenix.

I’ve had a few stories on the Beavers recently, here are the links if you missed them: BSU captain Ben Kinne recovers from stroke and returns a captain, BSU head coach Tom Serratore talks about BSU to the media and a recap of the 7-0 exhibition win over the University of Regina.

Okay, on to the WCHA this week-

The Ice Breaker Invitational in Grand Forks: North Dakota hosts Air Force Friday and plays the winner of Boston College-Michigan State Saturday.

Air Force coach Frank Serratore and UND coach Dave Hakstol cross paths again. Frank recruited Dave to UND as a player and later coached him with the Minnesota Moose. From Brad E. Schlossman at the Grand Forks Herald.

Air Force has some regional connections and there are some fond memories playing in Grand Forks. Grand Forks Herald.

MSU, Mankato at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute
Mankato center Matt Leitner from the Mankato Free Press did not play last season and spent the year working on his academics. He’s joined the Mavericks and has potential to be the team’s top line center. From Shane Frederick at the Mankato Free Press.

Michigan Tech hosts American International
The Mel Pearson era starts at Michigan Tech this weekend in his first official games as head coach. The Tech Hockey Guide blog takes a look at key returning players this season. 

Minnesota-Duluth hosts Notre Dame
UMD will raise its NCAA Championship banner Friday night in a rematch of last year’s Frozen Four semifinal. Here’s a series preview from Kevin Pates the Duluth News Tribune.

UMD fans are still celebrating the NCAA Title and expecting big things, writes fan blogger RWD at Northland’s News Center.

In case you missed it this week, Notre Dame is going to Hockey East in 2013-14.

Wisconsin hosts Northern Michigan
The young Badgers are young and ‘playing catch-up’ right now according to Mike Eaves. That starts in goal with freshmen Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel where the starting job is up for grabs. From Andy Baggott at the Madison Capital Times.

Series Preview from Chuck Schwartz at Bucky’s 5th Quarter.

Here’s a nice feature story on Marqueete native Justin Florek, who is preparing for his final season of hockey with the Wildcats in the U.P. From Matt Wellens at the Marquette Mining Journal.

Minnesota hosts Sacred Heart
Zach Budish is welcomed back to Minnesota with open arms after a scooter accident cost him last season. Mike Guentzel has returned to Minnesota as an assitant coach and the Gophers are aiming to end an NCAA Tournament drought that stretches back to 2008. From Jess Myers at 1500espn.com

Don Lucia is expected to sign a contract extension by next week. From Judd Zulgad at 1500espn.com.

Nebraska-Omaha hosts Mutual of Omaha Stampede. UNO facs Mercyhurst Friday then Robert Morris or Colgate Satruday.
Omaha is motivated after a disappointing end to last season- an early exit to Bemidji State in the first round of the playoffs and the loss to NCAA runner-up Michigan on a controversial overtime goal. There is some uncertainty entering the season though as 19 of the 27 players on the UNO roster are underclassmen. From Chad Purcell at the Omaha World-Herald.

St. Cloud State is at Alaska-Anchorage for the Kendall Hockey Classic. SCSU plays Alaska-Fairbanks Friday and Anchorage on Saturday. Anchorage plays Clarkson Friday.

The young defense, led by senior Sam Zabkowicz, holds the key for St. Cloud State this season. From Mick Hatten at the St. Cloud Times.

The USA Under-18 Team plays at Denver Friday and at Colorado College Saturday in a pair of exhibition games.

The Shore brothers provide an interesting storyline in Denver. Pioneer teammates Drew and Nick Shore will face their little brother Quentin playing for Team USA. From Mike Chambers at the Denver Post.

Colorado College beat McGill last week 3-2 in an exhibition game closer than coaches would have liked. From Joe Paisley at the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Chris Dilks at Western College Hockey takes a preseason look at the WCHA forwards and WCHA defensemen.

Millsy’s Former and Future Beaver Update

Millsy over at The Beaver Pond does an outstanding job at keeping track of all BSU alumni and prospects playing in the leagues around the world. His Former and Future Beaver Updates are new to the blog this year and will be posted periodically throughout the season. A big thanks goes out to Millsy for sharing it with the blog.

Here’s his update as of Oct. 4, 2011.

-Matt Francis-Nottingham Panthers (English ELITE League) 11 GP, 4G-5A-9 Pts., 12 PIM
-Niko Suoraniemi-Eindhoven Kemphanen (Netherlands)
-Andrew Martens-Wichita Thunder (CHL)
-Andrew Murray-San Jose Sharks (NHL)
-Tyler Scofield-Klagenfurter AC (Austria) 7 GP, 6G-3A-9 Pts, 2 PIM
-Brendan Cook-Sonderjyske (Denmark) 8 GP, 3G-2A-5 Pts, 12 PIM
-Anssi Tieranta-LeKi (Finland2) 6 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts, 4 PIM
-Matt Read-Philadelphia (NHL)
-Jamie Mattie-HC Innsbruck (Austria2) 1 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts., 0 PIM
-Mikka Lindholm-HKC (Finland3) 2 GP, 2G-2A-4 Pts., 0 PIM
-Riley Weselowski-Rapid City (CHL)
-Luke Erickson-Arizona (CHL)
-Brandon Marino-Quad City (CHL)
-Emil Billberg-Sodertalje (Allsvenskan) 4 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts., 2 PIM
-Ryan Huddy-Valpelice (Italy) 3 GP, 4G-3A-7 Pts., 2 PIM
-Rob Sirianni-Valpelice (Italy) 3 GP, 1G-3A-4 Pts., 6 PIM
-Matt Climie-Chicago (AHL), was in Vancouver Canucks (NHL) camp
-Matt Dalton-Vityaz Chekhov (KHL) 5 GP, 1W-3L-1SOL, 91.6 Save %, 3.07 GAA, 2 PIM
-Ian Lowe-Idaho Steelheads (ECHL)
-Chris McKelvie-Connecticut Whale (AHL), was in NY Rangers (NHL) Camp
-Ryan Cramer-Tulsa Oilers (CHL), will take part in Oklahoma City Barons (AHL) camp
-Matt Pope-South Carolina (ECHL), was in Hershey Bears (AHL) camp
-Daryl Bat-Tyringe SoSS (Sweden Division 2)
-Nathan Schwartbauer
-Ryan Adams
-Dan MacIntyre
-Cody Bostock
-Tyler Lehrke

Recruits
-Brady Riesgraf-Fargo Force (USHL)
-Brendan Harms-Portage (MJHL) 4 GP, 3G-3A-6 Pts., 6 PIM
-Bob Kinne-Lincoln (USHL)
-Corey Petrash-Winnipeg Saints (MJHL) 8 GP, 0G-1A-1 Pts., 2 PIM
-Phil Brewer-Burlington (OJHL)
-Brad Robbins-Sioux City (USHL) 1 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts., 0 PIM
-Graeme McCormack-Namaimo Clippers (BCHL) 2 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts., 4 PIM


Follow Eric Stromgren on Twitter at @estromgren and on Facebook.

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