Beaver Hockey Gameday: Bemidji State keeping an eye on Schwartz in Colorado College rematch, BSU women close home schedule with Minnesota-Duluth, news around the WCHA, Millsy’s Former and Future Beavers Update

Matt Prapavessis and the Bemidji State men's hockey team hosts Colorado College this weekend. Colorado College swept BSU in the first meeting this season. Pioneer File Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji State men’s hockey team remembers Colorado College forward Jaden Schwartz well.

Team Canada’s World Junior Tournament captain was a game breaker in Colorado College’s sweep against the Beavers back in October and the teams meet in a rematch this weekend (Friday 7:37 p.m., Saturday 7:07 p.m.) at the Sanford Center.

“He did tear us apart in Colorado and we’re going to want to take him serious when he’s out there,” BSU defenseman Matt Prapavessis said. “We need to take away his time and space. But he is a threat every time he’s on the ice, so we have to be aware of him.”

Schwartz had two goals and two assists in that series to open the WCHA season, which included a game-winner in Friday’s 3-1 Tigers win and an assist on Rylan Schwartz’s game-winning goal Saturday to rally the Tigers to a 6-4 victory.

No. 10 Colorado College (15-9-2, 12-7-1 WCHA) enters the series as a MacNaughton Cup contender and earned three standings points in last weekend’s home-and-home series against rival Denver.

“They are a team that has tremendous speed, they have an excellent power play and are just flat out hard to play against,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “They are playing good hockey at this time of the year and they have a lot at stake, just like we do.”

Bemidji State (13-12-3, 7-10-3 WCHA) is coming off a three-point weekend at Nebraska-Omaha on Friday’s 1-1 tie and Saturday’s 6-4 win. The series put a stop to BSU’s road struggles and moved the Beavers’ road record to 4-8-2 this season.

“The road’s been tough on us this year and I thought they guys competed well last weekend,” Serratore said. “We competed hard, we made plays, we defended hard. I just thought our overall game was very good. It was a situation where our backs were against the wall. We needed some points if we wanted to make a jump in the standings.”

The Beavers are in ninth place alone with 17 points and one point ahead of Wisconsin. The Badgers are idle this weekend.

“It was huge to get those three points,” Prapavessis said. “We would have loved to get four points, but we got three and passed Wisconsin in the standings. That’s huge. We’re going to take it one step at a time and keep climbing the ladder. These last eight games are going to be huge to see the layout for playoffs.”

Ahead of Bemidji State in eighth place is St. Cloud State with 21 points and the Huskies are idle this weekend. Michigan Tech, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota are tied for fifth place at 22 points.

BSU senior goalie Dan Bakala has started in five of Bemidji State’s last seven games and has regained some of his consistency. He is 3-1-1 in that span with a .941 save percentage, and allowed four goals through the first five periods of play against Omaha last weekend.

Senior captain Ben Kinne has two goals and three assists over the last five games to lead all BSU players in scoring over the same span. He scored the game-winning goal on the power play in the win at Omaha.

The Beavers scored two goals on the power play in the third period against UNO, which ended a drought of 11 straight scoreless power plays dating back to Jan. 14.

“I’m pretty confident with our power play, we have good personality and versatility with some of our guys,” Serratore said. “We feel like we can throw a couple of different power plays at people. We don’t feel like we’re one-dimensional in our thinking and execution.”

Special teams will be a matchup to watch this weekend as Colorado College brings the No. 2 ranked power play in WCHA play (23.1 percent) into the series and Bemidji State brings in the No. 2 ranked penalty kill in the WCHA (85.2 percent). BSU’s 85 percent overall kill rate ranks No. 10 in the country.

Tigers starting goalie Josh Thorimbert leads the WCHA in save percentage (.931) but was injured in last Saturday’s 2-2 tie against Denver and is not expected to play this weekend. That will put Joe Howe in goal, who stopped 36 of the 37 shots he faced against BSU in October including all 11 in a third-period relief appearance in BSU’s Saturday night loss.

Scholar Athletes

BSU seniors Darcy Findlay, Drew Fisher and Jamie MacQueen were announced as recipients of the WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award on Thursday.

All three are receiving the award for the second straight year.

Students must have one year of residency prior to the current academic year and must also have a grade-point average of at least 3.50 on a 4.0 scale for the previous two semesters or three quarters. Students may qualify if the overall GPA is at least 3.50 for all terms at the present institution.

Sam Windle interview

Bemidji State defenseman Sam Windle talks about this weekend’s series against Colorado College, the three-point weekend against Nebraska-Omaha and scoring his first career goal against the Mavericks.

BSU women host No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth

Lauren Williams and the Bemidji State women's hockey team host Minnesota-Duluth in the final home games of the regular season. Pioneer File Photo/Eric Stromgren

The second half of the regular season has been a rough ride for the Bemidji State women’s hockey team.

The Beavers have lost eight of the last 10 games, and were swept out of Grand Forks last weekend with 5-2 and 3-1 losses to No. 6 North Dakota.

“It was a step back,” BSU head coach Steve Sertich said. “I thought we played really well at Minnesota and really well at Wisconsin. We just didn’t have any energy, we didn’t play at the level we had been. North Dakota has something to say about that and in some respects got us out of our game. We need to get back to that this weekend.”

The Beavers host No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth Friday and Saturday at 2:07 p.m. in what are likely the last home games of the season at the Sanford Center.

This weekend marks the first home games for the Beavers (14-14-3, 8-14-2-0 WCHA) since Jan 14. The Beavers are 0-5-1 in that stretch of road games against No. 2 Minnesota, No. 1 Wisconsin and North Dakota.

“We haven’t won in a month, so we want to get a few wins and get our confidence back,” BSU senior Lauren Williams said. “We know that we can do it. We want to get back to our game, get back to focusing and do the things that we were able to do on Saturday.”

Minnesota-Duluth (15-12-1, 12-11-1-1 WCHA) has won three of its last four games and is coming off a split weekend against Ohio State.

“I think they are definitely having a better second half of the season compared to their first,” Williams said. “We know they are going to come out. We know they don’t like us very much and we don’t like them either, so we need to play our game because we know they are going to play theirs. We need to get shots.”

The series is a rematch of a November split series in Duluth. The Beavers lost 4-1 on Friday and won 4-3 on Saturday. Senior defenseman Montana Vichorek had three points in the series and senior forward Emily Erickson scored two goals in the win.

BSU wraps up the regular season next weekend on the road against St. Cloud State. A loss this weekend likely locks the Beavers into a first-round playoff matchup on the road the following week with North Dakota or UMD potential opponents.

WCHA Scholar-Athletes

BSU’s Alana McElhinney, Montana Vichorek, Molly Arola, Allie Duellman, Sadie Lundquist, Erika Wheelhouse and Lauren Williams were announced as recipients of the WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award on Thursday.

McElhinney and Vichorek are three-time Scholar-Athlete Award selections.

Students must have one year of residency prior to the current academic year and must also have a grade-point average of at least 3.50 on a 4.0 scale for the previous two semesters or three quarters. Students may qualify if the overall GPA is at least 3.50 for all terms at the present institution.

What I’m reading this week

Bemidji State (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.

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.

No. 10 Colorado College at Bemidji State (Friday 7:37, Saturday 7:07)

I wrote a story this week on Bemidji State’s freshman class, more specifically about the contributions of Sam Windle, Matt Prapavessis and Danny Mattson. Windle and Prapavessis helped stabalize the defensive lineup this year, and Mattson is starting to chip in some offense.

Below are some stories this week on the series from Brian Gomez at the Colorado Springs Gazette:

The Tigers are tightening up on defense. They have allowed five goals and killed 10 of the last 11 opposing power plays in the last four games.

Here are series notes for both teams.

Nebraska-Omaha at Michigan Tech (Friday 6:07, Saturday 4:07)

The Mavericks go to Michigan Tech for Winter Carnival weekend and are taking a roundabout way to get there because of coach Dean Blais’ dislike for flying into Houghton. The team flew to Minneapolis on Wednesday and connected to Green Bay before traveling by bus to Superior, Wis. to stay overnight. The Mavs then took the four-hour bus ride to Houghton and the hotel is 45 minutes south in Baraga. From Rob White, Omaha World-Herald.

Fixing Friday night performances is the key for Michigan Tech. The Huskies have fallen behind by three goal deficits in the first period of Friday night games over the last two weeks. From Stephen A. Anderson, Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.

No. 16 North Dakota at No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth (Friday and Saturday 7:07)

North Dakota’s Brendan O’Donnell has not played since Jan. 14 and will be out the remainer of the season with shoulder surgery. Losing the forward drops the Fighting Sioux to 18 available skaters, which is the number used to fill out a full lineup. From Brad E. Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald.

Speaking of the Fighting Sioux, the Sioux nickname issue isn’t resolved after all. The school has resumed the use of the Sioux nickname because a repealed 2011 nickname law by the North Dakota Legislature was restored this week by the filing of referral petitions containing more than 17,000 signatures. From Chuck Haga, Grand Forks Herald.

Minnesota-Duluth is 3-3-1 in its last seven games since the end of its 17-game unbeaten streak. UMD head coach Scott Sandelin said the team has been “outworked” in some of the games. From Tyler Buckentine and Brian Halverson, USCHO.com.

No. 2 Minnesota at No. 14 Denver (Friday 9:07, Saturday 8:07)

WCHA-leading Minnesota is 2-8 in its last 10 games against Denver and head coach Don Lucia wants the Gophers to pay special attention to taking care of the puck this weekend. From Roman Augustoviz, Star Tribune.

Denver sophomores David Makowski and Beau Bennet have been ruled out of this weeken’ds series. Goalie Sam Brittain may start both games. From Mike Chambers, Denver Post.

MSU, Mankato at Alaska-Anchorage (Friday and Saturday 10:07)

The Mavericks have split series in each of the last four weekends. Last weekend’s split against Michigan Tech can be pointed on struggles in two periods over the weekend. From Shane Frederick, Mankato Free Press.

The Seawolves took three points from the Mavericks in the previous meeting between the two teams this season with a 5-4 win and 5-5 tie. UAA, which stunned UMD with a 3-2 victory last saturday, will play four of its next six WCHA games at home. Series notes from UAA Seawolves Athletics.

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 Feb. 7.

FORMER BEAVERS

-Andrew Murray-San Jose Sharks (NHL) 39 GP, 1G-3A-4 Pts., 4 PIM, +3
-Matt Read-Philadelphia (NHL) 49 GP, 16G-16A-32 Pts., 6 PIM, +11
-Matt Francis-Nottingham Panthers (ELITE League) 47 GP, 16G-27A-43 Pts., 27 PIM
-Brendan Cook-Sonderjyske (Denmark) 29 GP, 16G-12A-28 Pts, 20 PIM
-Tyler Scofield-Klagenfurter AC (Austria) 36 GP, 15G-11A-26 Pts, 22 PIM
-Anssi Tieranta-LeKi (Finland2) 11 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) 34 GP, 7W-21L-4SOL, 90.9 Save %, 3.49 GAA, 11 PIM
-Emil Billberg-Sodertalje (Allsvenskan) 41 GP, 6G-5A-11 Pts., 20 PIM
-Ryan Huddy-Valpelice (Italy) 18 GP, 7G-14A-21 Pts., 6 PIM (Injured)
-Rob Sirianni-Valpelice (Italy) 35 GP, 19G-20A-39 Pts., 32 PIM
*******Relegation Round: 3 GP, 3G-1A-4 Pts., 2 PIM
-Chris McKelvie-Connecticut Whale (AHL) 32 GP, 2G-2A-4 Pts., 40 PIM, -1
-Jamie Mattie-HC Innsbruck (Austria2) 21 GP, 2G-8A-10 Pts., 6 PIM
-Matt Climie-Chicago (AHL) 22 GP, 14W-7L-OSOL, 92.6 Save %, 2.41 GAA, 2 PIM, 3 Assists
*******-Vancouver Canucks (NHL) 0 GP(Returned to Chicago)
-Ian Lowe-Idaho Steelheads (ECHL) 42 GP, 7G-16A-23 Pts., 40 PIM, -6
*******-Texas Stars (AHL) 6 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts., 2 PIM, -2 (Returned to Idaho)
-Matt Pope-South Carolina (ECHL) 18 GP, 7G-12A-19 Pts., 4 PIM, +3
*******-Hershey Bears (AHL) 19 GP, 3G-2A-5 Pts., 14 PIM, -1
-Niko Suoraniemi-Eindhoven Kemphanen (Netherlands) 28 GP, 6G-16A-22 Pts., 16 PIM
-Daryl Bat-Tyringe SoSS (Sweden Division 2) 25 GP, 14G-13A-27 Pts., 26 PIM
-Riley Weselowski-Rapid City (CHL) 41 GP, 7G-23A-30 Pts., 47 PIM, +20
-Luke Erickson-Arizona (CHL) 42 GP, 13G-9A-22 Pts., 26 PIM, -21
-Brandon Marino-Quad City (CHL) 43 GP, 28G-33A-61 Pts., 18 PIM, -3
-Andrew Martens-Wichita Thunder (CHL) 32 GP, 9G-17A-26 Pts., 22 PIM, +24
*******Oklahoma City Barons (AHL) 12 GP, 0G-1A-1 Pts., 2 PIM, -3 (Returned to Wichita)
-Ryan Cramer-Tulsa Oilers (CHL) 36 GP, 13G-18A-31 Pts., 35 PIM, -2

BEAVER RECRUITS

-Brady Riesgraf-Fargo Force (USHL) 3 GP, 0G-0A-0 Pts., 2 PIM, +1
**********-Coulee Region Chill (NAHL) 20 GP, 1G-2A-3 Pts., 10 PIM, -16
-Brendan Harms-Portage Terriers (MJHL) 33 GP, 14G-29A-43 Pts., 39 PIM
-Bob Kinne-Lincoln Stars (USHL) 26 GP, 4G-2A-6 Pts., 6 PIM, +4
-Corey Petrash-Winnipeg Saints (MJHL) 40 GP, 11G-16A-27Pts., 44 PIM
-Brad Robbins-Sioux City (USHL) 36 GP, 18G-14A-32 Pts., 18 PIM, -12
-Graeme McCormack-Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL) 46 GP, 10G-37A-47 Pts., 40 PIM
-Cory Ward-Aberdeen Wings (NAHL) 40 GP, 26G-23A-49 Pts., 23 PIM, +16
-Carter Struthers-Weyburn Red Wings (SJHL) 36 GP, 4G-18A-22 Pts., 21 PIM

Parting Shot

Colorado College center David Civitarese checks Denver University left defense John Ryder into the boards Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, during the first period at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

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

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