Bemidji State leading scorer George continues to thrive with new linemates

Bemidji State's Jordan George leads the team in scoring with 15 goals and 26 points so far this season. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Adjusting to life without Matt Read and Ian Lowe this season was major change for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team.

No player felt that adjustment more than junior forward Jordan George, who played on the top line with the graduated seniors and scored 70 points through his first two seasons. After working through a challenging transition period in the fall, George regained his form on the new top line with Aaron McLeod and captain Ben Kinne.

“A lot of credit goes to the linemates I have,” George said. “Losing Read and Lowesy was a big hit but we found chemistry with Clouder and Benny a month into the season. Give them a lot of the credit. It’s been a line effort so far.”

George leads BSU in scoring with 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 points as the Beavers enter this weekend’s final regular season home series against Wisconsin at the Sanford Center (Friday 7:37, Saturday 7:07 p.m.).

George, a Madison native, has at least six games left to match the 36 points he scored last year.

One major question coming into this season was how George, listed at 5-foot-8 and 155 pounds, would handle the WCHA grind without the open spaces Read and Lowe created for him on the ice.

“It (losing Read and Lowe) was a concern in the back of everybody’s mind, but we know we have to step up and it’s not just going to be one guy,” George said. “I think we’ve shown that with a lot of scoring down the columns.”

BSU head coach Tom Serratore called George the “most talented player” for the Beavers and the one player the team looks to when offense is needed. Serratore put George in different center and wing positions at the start of the season to find a way to showcase his offensive abilities.

The right combination was found a month in when McLeod moved up to the first line to center Kinne on the left wing and George on the right wing.

“I think it didn’t put a lot of pressure on George like there was early in the year to generate offense,” Serratore said. “Right now he’s feeling very comfortable. He’s going up and down his wing, and he’s playing a lot like he did with Reader and Lowesy. I’m very happy with where he’s at right now.”

McLeod and Kinne are also benefitting from George’s playmaking abilities. McLeod has 19 points, Kinne has 18 points and the trio together have accounted for eight of BSU’s 15 game-winning goals.

George at times draws the focus of opposing teams and has faced more physical play as a result. George prepared for that change by putting an emphasis on leg and core strength conditioning over the offseason, but said it is not the only reason for his production this year.

“As you get older and have some years under you, the game starts to slow down a little bit,” George said. “A lot of it is linemates working hard to get to spots, driving the net and creating space. It’s been all of us.”

George played at Madison Edgewood High School before moving on to junior hockey in Topeka (NAHL) and Bemidji State.

He grew up watching Wisconsin play hockey at the Kohl Center and returned home in December 2010 with the Beavers. He scored a goal in the series BSU lost by 3-2 and 2-0 scores.

“It’s always a big game playing the hometown team,” George said. “We got swept by them last year at their place so we want to come out and show them what we’ve got … I always get a little more motivation (playing Wisconsin) but I have to approach it like any other game. There are four points on the line and a chance to get home ice so we really have to make a push here.”

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

No. 7 Minnesota sweeps Bemidji State with 4-1 victory

Bemidji State's Jake Areshenko, right, collides with Minnesota's Sam Warning during the first period of Saturday night's game in Minneapolis. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren.

MINNEAPOLIS – The Bemidji State men’s hockey team lost to No. 7 Minnesota 4-1 and were swept out of Mariucci Arena in front of 10,202 fans Saturday night.

The Beavers played a more competitive game unlike Friday’s 3-0 loss and hoped to build on the on the positives heading into the final four games of the regular season.

“We didn’t have our best effort last night and I thought we responded tonight,” BSU junior Brance Orban said. “That’s important for us to be able to bounce back like that. It shows we have a lot of character in that dressing room and that we believe in ourselves.”

Erik Haula scored two goals and goalie Kent Patterson had 21 saves for the Gophers (21-11-1, 17-7-0 WCHA), which maintained its first-place lead in the WCHA standings with the sweep.

Brad Hunt scored Bemidji State’s goal in the first period. It was the only shot of the 35 BSU put on goal this weekend to beat Patterson.

“We really played our hearts out,” Serratore said. “We pressured the puck, we worked hard, we played hard, we had scoring chances and when we had our chances I thought Patterson played well … I thought we gave it all and in the end the result wasn’t there, but our effort was.”

Hunt’s goal turned out to be the biggest positive for BSU in a game where Hunt broke two major school records: Matt Read’s games played mark (144) and Chris Morque’s career scoring record for defensemen (107 points).

Hunt was not aware of the record until Serratore handed him the puck in the locker room after the game.

“Obviously it would have been more neat if we got the win,” Hunt said. “But I’m proud of myself, my mom and dad are really proud too, and the guys in the room are proud. It’s cool, it hasn’t sunk in yet and it’s a cool accomplishment.”

Bemidji State (15-14-3, 9-12-3 WCHA) returns home to the Sanford Center next weekend to face Wisconsin in the final home series of the regular season. BSU fell back into ninth place in the WCHA standings with the loss and will be at least four points out of the sixth and final home ice playoff position heading into the Wisconsin series.

Like Friday’s 3-0 Minnesota victory, the Gophers scored quickly to open the game and Haula’s contested wrist shot beat Bakala 76 seconds into the first period.

Hunt tied the score at 1-1 when his slap shot from inside the blue line beat Patterson with 2:46 left in the first period. His 24th career goal was also his 16th career power play goal, which set BSU’s Division I record for power play goals by a defenseman.

Minnesota took control in the second period when Hansen tipped a shot past Bakala 2:05 in and Haula scored on the power play five minutes later to put the Gophers up 3-1.

BSU nearly cut the lead midway through the period when he beat Patterson with a slap shot from the face-off dot. The shot clanked off the crossbar and fluttered wide.

The Beavers pulled goalie Dan Bakala in favor of the extra attacker with two minutes left in the game, but Minnesota’s Seth Ambroz capped off the sweep when he took a pass from Nate Condon at the blue line and scored the empty-net goal with 1:33 remaining. Bakala had 28 saves Saturday and 61 in the weekend series.

Scoring Summary

BSU 1 0 0 – 1
UM 1 2 1 – 4
First period – 1, UM Haula 13 (Hansen), 1:17. 2, BSU Hunt 5 (Prapavessis, George), 17:14.
Second period – 3, UM Hansen 11 (Holl, Haula), 2:05. 4, UM Haula 14 (Rau, Schmidt), 7:07.
Third period – 4, UM Ambroz 5 (Condon, Helgeson), 18:27 (en).
Shots on goal – BSU, 4-9-9-22. UM, 11-13-8-32.
Goalies – BSU, Bakala (32-28). UM, Patterson (22-21).
Power plays – BSU, 1-for-3. BSU, 1-for-2.

A- 10,202.

Photo Gallery

All photos by Eric Stromgren.

Dan Bakala reacts after Erik Haula scores

Dan Bakala, Erik Haula and Matt Prapavessis

Brad Hunt, Travis Boyd and Dan Bakala

Jeff Jubinville and Travis Boyd

Tyler Tosunian

Jake Areshenko and Dan Bakala

Nick Bjugstad and Sam Windle

Jake Hansen and Brad Hunt

Nick Bjugstad, Jake Areshenko and Jamie MacQueen

Brad Hunt reacts after scoring in the first period

Hunt celebrates the goal with Dan Bakala

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

Saturday night pregame notes and line charts for Bemidji State vs. No. 7 Minnesota

Some pregame notes and line charts for tonight’s game between Bemidji State and No. 7 Minnesota. The Gophers are looking for the sweep after a 3-0 win over the Beavers last night and the game will be televised on Fox Sports North.

The only change tonight for Bemidji State is on defense with Kyle Brodie replacing Brady Wacker on the third defensive pairing with Matt Carlson.

BSU defenseman Brad Hunt is on the top defensive pairing, as usual, and has never missed a game in his college career. He breaks Matt Read”s consecutive game record and is now the school-record holder at 144 games.

Dan Bakala is back in net tonight for BSU. He had 33 saves last night and surpassed Matt Climie for second on BSU’s all-time saves list in the Division I era. Bakala has 2,201 saves, behind only Grady Hunt’s 2,717.

The following two items are courtesy of the Bemidji State Athletic Media Relations office:

-Bemidji State is 7-2-1 in games immediately following a shutout since the 2003-04 season and is averaging 3.8 goals in those games.

-BSU’s 13 shots on goal last night against the Gophers was the fewest since a 13-shot game in a 1-0 loss to North Dakota on Feb. 24, 2008.

WCHA-leading Minnesota won its 20th game last night marking the first 20-win season for the Gophers since 2006-07.

The Gophers are are 8-1-0 against Minnesota schools this season (1-0 vs. BSU, 2-0 vs. UMD, 2-0 vs. MSU, 3-1-0 vs. St. Cloud State).

Bemidji State

Forwards
Kinne 9-McLeod 14-George 28
Orban 7-Walters 11-Boehm 4
MacQueen 17-Jubinville 12-Mattson 16
Tosunian 19-Fisher 13-Findlay 6

Defense
Hunt 29-Prapavessis 22
Areshenko 8-Windle 15
Carlson 5-Brodie 26

Goalies
Bakala 33
Walsh 30

Minnesota

Forwards
Rau 7-Bjugstad 27-Budish 24
Warning 11-Haula 19-Hansen 21
Condon 16-Matson 9-Sacchetti 13
Serratore 14-Boyd 22-Ambroz 17

Defense
Helgeson 4-Holl 12
Marshall 10-Alt 20
Parentau 6-Schmidt 29

Goalies
Patterson 35
Shibrowski 1
Kremer 30

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

Bemidji State winning streak ends in 3-0 loss to No. 7 Minnesota

Bemidji State's Brance Orban tumbles over Minnesota Goalie Kent Patterson after Patterson poke checked the puck away during the second period of Friday night's game in Minneapolis. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren.

MINNEAPOLIS – The Bemidji State men’s hockey team cruised into Minneapolis this weekend on a three-game winning streak and one of the hottest teams in the Western Collegiate Hockey Conference.

After No. 7 Minnesota defeated BSU 3-0 in a one-sided game Friday night in front of 9,975 fans at Mariucci Arena, the Beavers walked out of the locker room frustrated and determined to play a better game Saturday night.

“We’re disappointed in ourselves and our effort, but we’re proud people and for sure we’re going to come back hard tomorrow.” said BSU goalie Dan Bakala, who had 33 saves.

Zach Budish scored two goals for the WCHA-leading Gophers and goalie Kent Patterson had 13 saves for his seventh shutout this season.

The shutout was Bemidji State’s first in 22 consecutive games dating back to the 1-0 road loss to Minnesota-Duluth back on Oct. 29. The 13 BSU shots on goal marked the fewest this season and the fewest since Dec. 12, 2009 loss to Minnesota State.

“They (Minnesota) played possessed tonight,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “Give Minnesota all the credit. To me they were a national championship caliber team tonight and that’s how good they are. We just could never get it going.”

Bemidji State (15-13-3, 9-11-3 WCHA) and Minnesota (20-11-1, 16-7-0 WCHA) wrap up the weekend series Saturday at 7:07 p.m. at Mariucci Arena.

“It wasn’t our night,” BSU alternate captain Brad Hunt said. “It’s all about tomorrow now. We just have to be focused and determined. When we get back to the hotel we have to look in the mirror because we all have got more to give. We have to leave nothing in the tank tomorrow night after that game.”

Budish scored his two goals in the first period. He scored 60 seconds in by tipping Mark Alt’s slap shot in front of the net and buried the second midway through the period by putting back a rebound on Nick Bjugstad’s drive to the net.

It was a dominating first-period display by Minnesota, which outshot the Beavers 14-2 through the first 20 minutes.

BSU did not have a shot on goal until 12:35 in and BSU’s second shot, a tip by Darcy Findlay to end a rush, was blocked by Patterson.

Minnesota remained in control in the second period by avoiding turnovers and playing physical along the boards. It was a key to the win in the mind of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia.

“After watching how they (BSU) scored some goals against CC (Colorado College) last weekend, we wanted to make sure that they didn’t beat us up the rink tonight,” Lucia said.

Bjugstad made it 3-0 Minnesota seven minutes into the second period on the power play when he took Kyle Rau’s pass at the far side of the net and chipped it through Bakala.

Bemidji State was outshot 27-9 through two periods and struggled to break through Minnesota’s blue line the entire night.

“They did a great job just making the ice a lot smaller than it was and it seemed like they had eight guys on the ice,” Hunt said. “That’s what we want to be like and we didn’t get that done tonight. Tomorrow night we have to find a way to penetrate that.”

Scoring Summary

BSU 0 0 0 – 0
UM 2 1 0 – 3
First period – 1, UM Budish 9 (Alt, Rau), 1:00. 2, UM Budish 10 (Bjugstad, Marshall), 9:13.
Second period – 3, UM Bjugstad 22 (Rau, Haula), 7:00, (pp).
Third period – No scoring.
Shots on goal – BSU, 2-7-4-13. UM, 14-13-9-36.
Goalies – BSU, Bakala (36-33). UM, Patterson (13-13).
Power plays – BSU, 0-for-0. UM, 1-for-4.
A- 9,975.

Photo Gallery

All photos by Eric Stromgren.

Mark Alt and Jordan George

Jake Parenteau and Danny Mattson

Nate Condon and David Boehm

Jake Parenteau and Jeff Jubinville

Kent Patterson

Travis Boyd and Drew Fisher

Seth Helgeson and Tyler Tosunian

Darcy Findlay reacts after Kent Patterson makes a save in the first period

Nick Bjugstad and Brad Hunt

Zach Budish, Matt Carlson, Dan Bakala and Kyle Rau

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

Friday night line charts and pregame notes for Bemidji State vs. No. 7 Minnesota

Some pregame notes and line charts for tonight’s game between Bemidji State and No. 7 Minnesota.

Bemidji State is without forward Radoslav Illo for the third straight game tonight with what is being called a lower body injury. He was able to practice this week but had a noticeable limp after Tuesday’s practice. Head coach Tom Serratore said on Tuesday he would be surprised if Illo was able to play tonight’s game but did not rule him out for Saturday.

Bemidji State’s Brad Hunt needs one point this weekend to become BSU’s all-time leading scorer as a defenseman. Jude Boulainne Jr. (1995) had the previous record of 115 points, but he played forward for three seasons and the BSU record book was changed this week.

Hunt is currently tied with Chris Morque (1990-94) at 107 points.

Bemidji State is on a three-game winning streak and are 4-1-1 in the last six games and WCHA-leading Minnesota are coming off a sweep on the road at the hands of Denver last week.

Kent Patterson is making his 53rd straight start in goal tonight for Minnesota and he leads the nation with 19 wins. He enters the game with a save percentage of .916.

BSU goalie Dan Bakala is 6-1-1 in his last eight starts and brings

This weekend’s games are being broadcast on Fox Sports North, and Friday night’s game is on FSN Plus. Here’s a link to channel information.

Bemidji State

Forwards
Kinne 9-McLeod 14-George 28
Orban 7-Walters 11-Boehm 4
MacQueen 17-Jubinville 12-Mattson 16
Tosunian 19-Fisher 13-Findlay 6

Defense
Hunt 29-Prapavessis 22
Areshenko 8-Windle 15
Carlson 5-Wacker 25

Goalies
Bakala 33
Walsh 30

Minnesota

Forwards
Rau 7-Bjugstad 27-Budish 24
Warning 11-Haula 19-Hansen 21
Condon 16-Matson 9-Sacchetti 13
Serratore 14-Boyd 22-Ambroz 17

Defense
Helgeson 4-Holl 12
Marshall 10-Alt 20
Parentau 6-Schmidt 29

Goalies
Patterson 35
Shibrowski 1
Kremer 30

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