Beaver Hockey Gameday: Bemidji State men host future WCHA member Bowling Green, BSU women travel to Robert Morris, WCHA news, BSU alums named CHL All-Stars, Martens and Lowe called up to AHL, Millsy’s Future and Former Beaver Update

Shea Walters, center, celebrates a goal against Alabama-Huntsville with Matt Prapavessis, left, and Danny Mattson, right. Pioneer File Photo/Eric Stromgren.

Like a handshake begins a new relationship, the Bemidji State and Bowling Green men’s hockey teams exchanged game videos this week to prepare for the weekend series at the Sanford Center.

The non-conference series (Friday 7:37 p.m., Saturday 7:07 p.m.) marks Bemidji State’s first games in program history against Bowling Green, which will join the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 2013-14.

“We don’t know a lot about them and they don’t know a lot about us,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “I always think it’s exciting playing somebody for the first time. They’ll be in our league in a few years too. It will be nice for the fans to see Bowling Green. It’s going to be good for us to get acquainted.”

There is some familiarity from the Bowling Green side. First-year head coach Chris Bergeron was the assistant coach at Miami in 2009 when the Beavers lost to the RedHawks at the Frozen Four.

Located about 25 miles south of Toledo, Ohio, Bowling Green currently plays in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Bergeron sees a similarity between the Beavers and another team in that league.

“It’s almost like a Ferris State mentality where they’re (BSU) just going to play hard,” Bergeron said. “It doesn’t matter who they are playing. They are going to do the same thing whether it’s Denver or Bowling Green.”

The Falcons (6-11-3, 1-11-2-1 CCHA) are last in the CCHA standings and come to Bemidi with two wins in the last 15 games.

“I just hope that our focus gets back to being intense and competing – if we do that, we’ll be fine regardless of the result,” Bergeron said. “Our focus is on us and how to get better. The fact that we’re going on the road to Bemidji is another fun experience for this group.”

Bemidji State (9-9-2, 5-7-2 WCHA) has five wins in the last seven games and are coming off back-to-back home shutouts of Alabama-Huntsville on Dec. 16-17. The sweep extended BSU’s winning streak to three games.

The Beavers did not play over Christmas weekend and returned to Bemidji on Tuesday night to start preparing for the Falcons. There were no organized team activities during a nine-day break.

“The biggest thing is you want the guys to have their timing right away and you want them to be able to get right back to game speed, get back to competing and not lose the edge they had in the first half,” Serratore said.

The Beavers clawed back to an even overall record with the Huntsville sweep after beginning the season 4-8-1. That start included a season-opening stretch where eight of the first 10 games were played on the road.

Driving BSU’s resurgence to close out the first half of the year was team defense. The Beavers have allowed five goals in the last five games.

BSU senior goalie Dan Bakala was in goal for wins against North Dakota and St. Cloud State until a shaky third period in a 3-2 loss to Denver on Dec. 9 opened the door for freshman Andrew Walsh.

Walsh, who was named the WCHA Rookie of the Week the last two weeks, has started the last three games and stopped all 47 shots he faced against Huntsville. He has played in eight games this season and brings .932 goals against average into the weekend

Serratore said Walsh will start Friday’s game and Bakala will start Saturday.

“It’s always healthy having some good competition,” Serratore said. “I think our coaching staff and our players are confident with our goalies and that’s a positive for us.”

The BSU penalty kill and power play units have been a key to success over the last seven games.

The penalty killing unit has killed 22 straight opposing power plays in a span of just over five games dating back to Dec. 2 against St. Cloud State. BSU’s overall penalty kill rate is 86.0 percent, which is the best in the WCHA and ranks No. 15 in the country.

The Beavers have seven power-play goals in the last seven games and have a 33.3 percent success rate during that span. BSU’s power play percentage stands at 22.2 percent for the season and is tied for No. 12 nationally with North Dakota.

BSU women back from break to face Robert Morris

The No. 8 Bemidji State women’s hockey team will close out 2011 in Pennsylvania against Robert Morris in a non-conference series.

The games are Friday at noon and Saturday at 4:15 p.m. Friday’s game is part of the RMU Hockey Showcase and will be played at the Consol Energy Center, home to the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Saturday’s game will be played on the Robert Morris campus.

Bemidji State enters the weekend (10-7-2, 6-7-1 WCHA) and have not played since losing to No. 1 Wisconsin in a sweep three weeks ago at the Sanford Center.

The Beavers are 2-4 in the last six games, which were all played against nationally ranked opponents. BSU split the two prior weekends against current No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth and current No. 6 North Dakota.

Junior Sadie Lundquist leads the BSU offense into the series with eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points this season. She ranks tied for 17th among national scorers. Senior Emily Erickson has a team-high 10 goals this season.

Erickson will not be with the Beavers this weekend as she is with senior defenseman Montana Vichorek at the USA Hockey Women’s Winter Training Camp at the National Sports Center in Blaine this week. The two are among 41 of the top women’s players in the nation selected to participate in the camp, which is also serving as an evaluation and training session for the USA National Team.

Bemidji State’s power play is one of the best in the country and is ranked No. 4 with a 27.38 percent success rate. BSU has 23 goals on the power play this year, three behind NCAA-leading Mercyhurst.

Robert Morris enters the game (11-2-2, 1-0-1 CHA) and are led by freshman Rebecca Vint’s 14 goals and 10 assists.

Bemidji State has not lost in non-conference play this season and are 4-0-1 in games played out of the WCHA.

What I’m reading this week

Bemidji State vs. Bowling Green (Friday 7:37, Saturday 7:07)

TV: Lakeland Public Television and regionally in Minnesota on the PBS Minnesota Channel. Also available on the Minnesota Channel in areas of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin where Minnesota Public Television stations are received. More information here.

Radio: Locally on The Mix 103.7 FM and online at the Beaver Radio Network. Kelly Schultz will also broadcast this weekend’s BSU women’s games on the Beaver Radio Network.

Twitter:I’ll be taking photos during the first period and I will provide game updates on my Twitter account at the start of the second period @estromgren. You can expect line charts up on this blog before the game starts.

Matt Read took time out of his busy schedule this week to talk about his rookie season with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Winter Classic and HBO’s 24/7 documentary series. Here’s my story if you missed it.

Michigan Tech at Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit

This tourney started Thursday night with Michigan Tech losing to No. 14 Michigan State 3-1 and Michigan defeating Boston College 4-2.

Michigan State goalie Drew Palmisano had 45 saves against Tech in the win shut out Michigan Tech until 13 minutes remaining. Recap by Bob Miller,

Tech is working on improving its forecheck, defensive zone coverage and special teams at the tourney. From Stephen Anderson, Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.

No. 8 Western Michigan at St. Cloud State

The Huskies opened the series with a 4-2 win over the Broncos on Thursday night. Jared Festler snapped a seven-game scoring drought with the game-tying and game-winning goal. From Mick Hatten, St. Cloud Times.

Harvard at North Dakota

“A lot of former cake-eaters are going to be on the ice”- UND’s Joe Gleason in the Grand Forks Herald.

Of the eight players from the 2007-08 Edina Hornets state championship team, four will be on the ice in this weekend’s series at Grand Forks. Gleason is one of those players playing for UND along with Connor Gaarder. Marshall Everson and Max Everson play for Harvard. From Brad E. Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald.

All the non-conference series this weekend for the WCHA have some added importance as if the season ended at the start of this weekends games, only two or three WCHA teams would make the NCAA Tournament Field. It’s in part due to the poor non-conference record for WCHA teams. From Brad E. Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald.

No. 2 Minnesota hosts Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis

Minnesota hosts Northeastern, Princeton and Niagara this weekend at the Mariucci Classic, the tournament won by Bemidji State last season.

The Gophers play Niagara on Friday and the winner meets the Northeastern-Princeton winner on Saturday for the title.

Like the Beavers, the Gophers have not played in nearly three weeks and will be without forwards Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau. The two are playing for Team USA in the World Junior Championships. The Gophers second and third lines are likely to remain the same despite their absences. From Roman Augustoviz, Star Tribune.

Minnesota Athletic Director Joel Maturi declined an interview offer for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. There is speculation taht former U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Jim Scherr is believed to be the front-runner. From Kevin Pates, Rink and Run blog.

Quinnipiac at Nebraska-Omaha

Nebraska-Omaha head coach is coaching Team USA at the World Junior Championships, which puts assistant Mike Hastings in charge of the Mavs this weekend. Could he be the next head coach in Omaha when Blais decides to retire? From Rob White, Omaha World Herald.

Minnesota State University, Mankato and Wisconsin host Team USA Under-18 Team

Mankato head coach Troy Jutting is tiring of talking about injury problems and has called Mike Louwerse, Brett Stern, Danny Heath and Chase Grant out for Friday and the season “until they are out there.” From Shane Frederick, Mankato Free Press.

Right now consistency is the biggest issue in Wisconsin, which is struggling on the penalty kill and have an underachieving defensive corps. From Andy Baggot, Wisconsin State Journal.

Injured Wisconsin signee Nic Kerdiles will be making the trip to Madison with his USA teammates to mix it up with his future Wisconsin teammates. He leads USA with 11 goals in 26 games. From Andy Baggot, Wisconsin State Journal.

No. 5 Colorado College hosts Air Force, No. 10 Union
No. 15 Denver hosts No. 10 Union, travels to Air Force

Almost always an underdog in college hockey, Air Force is primed for another shot agains the Tigers and Pioneers. From Brian Gomez, Colorado Springs Gazette.

Jaden Schwartz, Team Canada’s captain at the World Junior Championships, is not playing this weekend for CC. The same goes for Denver’s Jason Zucker, who is the captain for Team USA. Game notes for all teams from Brian Gomez, Colorado Springs Gazette.

Air Force head coach Frank Serratore said this to Gomez:

“When you play teams like CC and Denver, your goalies better be good, and you better be sharp on the special teams. These are good games for us. We’ll find out where we sit on the food chain a little bit, and it will set the tone for us for the rest of the season. … We’re probably looking forward to playing them a whole lot more than they’re looking forward to playing us.”

Former Beavers make CHL All-Star squad, Martens and Lowe called up to AHL teams

Andrew Martens, left, was called up to the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons this week one hour after he was named a starter for the CHL All-Star team. Photo via Wichita Thunder.

There were notable honors and transactions for former Bemidji State men’s hockey players playing in professional leagues this week.

Andrew Martens (2002-06) and Ian Lowe (2007-11) each received opportunities to play for clubs in the American Hockey League, the feeder league to the National Hockey League.

Martens, a defenseman, was named a starter on the Central Hockey League All-Star team on Wednesday, called up to the Oklahoma City Barons an hour after the announcement and played in Thursday night’s home game against Rochester. Martens was tied for the CHL lead in defensive scoring with eight goals and 22 points with the Wichita Thunder. He also led the league in plus/minus rating at plus-20.

The Barons are the AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers and it is not the first call-up to the AHL for Martens. He played one game with the Lake Erie Monsters last season, and played 27 combined games with Manitoba and Toronto in 2008-09.

Lowe was signed to a professional tryout agreement with the Texas Stars, the AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars. He made his AHL debut in Thursday night’s game against Abbotsford.

Lowe was signed to the PTO from the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads. He is the only player to skate in all 30 games for Idaho this season and ranked third in team scoring with 19 points and 12 assists.

Also named to the CHL All-Star team was Brandon Marino (2005-09) and Riley Weselowski (2004-08).

Marino has 16 goals and 19 assists for 35 points to lead Quad City (Iowa) in scoring this season. He ranks fourth in CHL scoring and named a starter in the game along with Martens.

Weselowski, a defenseman, has five goals and 12 assists for 17 points with Rapid City (S.D.) this season. He was named to the reserve squad.

The CHL All-Stars play the Arizona Sundogs on Jan. 11 in Prescott, Ariz.

Luke Erickson (2003-07) currently plays for the Sundogs. He has nine goals and eight assists for 17 points this season.

Matt Read scores 12th goal

Matt Read scored in the second period of Thursday night’s Philadelphia Flyers game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead and the goal stood as the game-winner in the 4-2 victory.

His 22 points rank fourth in rookie scoring and his 12 goals are second only to Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ 13.

The Flyers play the New York Rangers Monday at noon in the NHL Winter Classic. The outdoor game will be played at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, home to Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies.

Here’s a video of the goal.

Millsy’s Former and Future Beavers Update

Millsy over at The Beaver Pond tracks the statistics of former Bemidji State players and prospects in the junior leagues. Here is the latest update with stats current as of Dec. 27.

-Andrew Murray-San Jose Sharks (NHL) 29 GP, 1G-2A-3 Pts., 4 PIM, +4
-Matt Read-Philadelphia (NHL) 31 GP, 11G-10A-21 Pts., 2 PIM, +7
-Matt Francis-Nottingham Panthers (ELITE League) 34 GP, 10G-20A-30 Pts., 23 PIM
-Brendan Cook-Sonderjyske (Denmark) 20 GP, 11G-5A-16 Pts, 18 PIM
-Tyler Scofield-Klagenfurter AC (Austria) 22 GP, 9G-7A-16 Pts, 8 PIM
-Anssi Tieranta-LeKi (Finland2) 12 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts, 8 PIM (Injured)
-Mikka Lindholm-HKC (Finland3) 21 GP, 11G-11A-22 Pts., 28 PIM
-Matt Dalton-Vityaz Chekhov (KHL) 26 GP, 7W-14L-4SOL, 91.9 Save %, 3.07 GAA, 9 PIM
-Emil Billberg-Sodertalje (Allsvenskan) 28 GP, 4G-3A-7 Pts., 6 PIM
-Ryan Huddy-Valpelice (Italy) 18 GP, 7G-14A-21 Pts., 6 PIM (Injured)
-Rob Sirianni-Valpelice (Italy) 27 GP, 19G-14A-33 Pts., 24 PIM
-Chris McKelvie-Connecticut Whale (AHL) 22 GP, 2G-2A-4 Pts., 31 PIM, +2
-Jamie Mattie-HC Innsbruck (Austria2) 12 GP, 0G-6A-6 Pts., 4 PIM
-Matt Climie-Chicago (AHL) 13 GP, 8W-4L-OSOL, 92.6 Save %, 2.63 GAA, 0 PIM, 2 Assists
*******-Vancouver Canucks (NHL) 0 GP, sent back to Chicago
-Ian Lowe-Idaho Steelheads (ECHL) 30 GP, 7G-12A-19 Pts., 29 PIM, -4
*******-Texas Stars (AHL) 0 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts., 0 PIM
-Matt Pope-South Carolina (ECHL) 15 GP, 7G-12A-19 Pts., 4 PIM, +5
*******-Hershey Bears (AHL) 10 GP, 3G-2A-5 Pts., 10 PIM, +3
-Niko Suoraniemi-Eindhoven Kemphanen (Netherlands) 15 GP, 5G-8A-13 Pts., 6 PIM
-Daryl Bat-Tyringe SoSS (Sweden Division 2) 20 GP, 10G-12A-22 Pts., 26 PIM
-Riley Weselowski-Rapid City (CHL) 26 GP, 5G-12A-17 Pts., 37 PIM, +6
-Luke Erickson-Arizona (CHL) 28 GP, 9G-8A-17 Pts., 20 PIM, -12
-Brandon Marino-Quad City (CHL) 25 GP, 15G-18A-33 Pts., 8 PIM, +0
-Andrew Martens-Wichita Thunder (CHL) 26 GP, 8G-14A-22 Pts., 22 PIM, +17
-Ryan Cramer-Tulsa Oilers (CHL) 25 GP, 11G-12A-23 Pts., 27 PIM, -1

-Brady Riesgraf-Fargo Force (USHL) 3 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts., 2 PIM, +1
**********-Coulee Region Chill (NAHL) 10 GP. 0G-2A-2 Pts., 6 PIM, -9
-Brendan Harms-Portage Terriers (MJHL) 18 GP, 8G-13A-21 Pts., 25 PIM
-Bob Kinne-Lincoln Stars (USHL) 16 GP, 2G-1A-3 Pts., 2 PIM, -1
-Corey Petrash-Winnipeg Saints (MJHL) 36 GP, 9G-15A-24Pts., 44 PIM
-Brad Robbins-Sioux City (USHL) 22 GP, 14G-11A-25 Pts., 8 PIM, -1
-Graeme McCormack-Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL) 33 GP, 10G-30A-40 Pts., 30 PIM
-Cody Ward-Aberdeen Wings (NAHL) 28 GP, 17G-22A-39 Pts., 21 PIM, +13

Parting shot

New to the blog, I plan to share a photo I like from the week in hockey each week at the end of the Gameday post.

If you see or take a great photo, send your submission to me at for consideration.

Michigan State's Matt Berry (27) takes a blow from Michigan Tech's Carl Nielsen (25) in the first period of a Great Lakes Invitational college hockey game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

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