The end has no end: Thoughts on Bemidji State’s season

BSU actually ended its season two weeks ago at Ferris State but I’ve been neglecting the blog. And, as we know, a college hockey writer’s job never ends, even when the season does. I just needed a few days to process the end of BSU’s season.

Anyway, I plan on having a few more thoughts in the paper later this week — I just had a good talk with head coach Tom Serratore recapping the season and sort of looking forward to next — but I thought with the NCAA tournament starting up this weekend I’d get a few things up here before everyone forgets about BSU for a while (if they haven’t already).

-The Beavers finished with a 10-21-7 record. Not great, but they nearly doubled their win total from 2012-13 (when they were 6-22-8). All 10 wins this season came in WCHA play. Last season the Beavers got one win from current WCHA foe Lake Superior State, which was in the CCHA at the time.

-One thing to note: The Beavers were 2-12-2 against NCAA tournament teams.

That doesn’t look great but it also points to just how tough BSU’s schedule was. Nearly half of schedule (16 out of 38 games) made the tournament.

That’s two conference teams (Ferris State and Minnesota State) as well as three out of BSU’s four nonconference opponents (Minnesota, St. Cloud State and North Dakota… Miami didn’t make the tournament despite being a preseason No. 1 but nearly won the NCHC tournament).

-BSU’s scoring went up this season.

Last year the Beavers averaged 2.1 goals per game. This year that number went up slightly, to 2.6. Opponents goals-per-game numbers, however, stayed exactly the same — 3.1 goals a game.

I think this has something to do with the fact that the Beavers found more scoring from underclassmen — something it lacked a season ago.

Brance Orban was the only Beaver who had more than 20 points in 2012-12 — 23 points, with just nine goals.

This year four Beavers had 20-plus points. Three were underclassmen. That’s two sophomores (Cory Ward and Markus Gerbrandt) and a freshman (Brendan Harms) along with junior Matt Prapavessis.

That’s an encouraging number for BSU. Last year they lost five of their 10 double-digit scorers to graduation. This season BSU also had 10 guys in double-digits but only two — Radoslav Illo and Jeff Jubinville — are seniors. (This assuming nobody else on the team leaves early, which I can’t forsee.)

-The BSU penalty kill finished the regular season ranked No. 8 in the country. It was generally outstanding, save a few hiccups near the end of the season (against Mankato and Bowling Green).

-The power play, on the other hand, was a mess in the last quarter of the season. The Beavers scored just one power play goal in the last 10 games (against Alabama-Huntsville). And they had their chances — 35 of them — in their last 10 games. For those scoring at home that’s 2 percent.

That will have to improve, especially after it was so good early in the season. Luckily, power play stalwarts Prapavessis, Ward, Gerbrandt and Ruslan Pedan should be back. Hopefully they can get the kinks out.

I’ll have more in the paper later this week, I just thougt I’d run down those stats for you before the NCAA Tournament started.

-Also, for what it’s worth, I picked Minnesota, Ferris, Union and Boston College for the Frozen Four. That Ferris pick may be wishful thinking, since I think the Midwest Region is the toughest in the tournament with Ferris, Colgate, North Dakota and Wisconsin. But it would be cool to see the Bulldogs go back to the Frozen Four for the second time in three years.

Plus, I want to see them take on the Gophers. Colgate prevented that matchup from happening earlier in the season by beating the Gophers in a shootout during the Mariucci Classic, so it would be fun to see if the Bulldogs can hold their own against the top team in the nation.

That said, Colgate is no pushover — they beat Ferris two out of the three times they played in the regular season.

As for Mankato, they got a tough draw, taking on UMass-Lowell in the first round in Lowell’s backyard (Worcester, Mass.). I’m not sure I can see them getting out of the first round but even if they do, BC and Johhny Gaudreau will likely be waiting for them in the regional finals.

(However, should both Ferris and Mankato win and make the Frozen Four, it would be a nice gesture to the rest of those in college hockey who call the WCHA “dead,” so that would be really fun to watch.)

AWARD SEASON: Prapavessis, Pedan named to all-WCHA teams

The WCHA all-conference awards literally just came out minutes ago, with few surprises.

Bemidji State had two nominees.

Junior defenseman Matt Prapavessis was named to the all-WCHA third team while freshman defenseman Ruslan Pedan was named to the league’s all-rookie team.

Both guys have had good seasons for the Beavers.

Prap is tied for second in the league in defenseman scoring (5g-17a-22pts) while Pedan is tied for 13th (3g-10a-13pts). Both Prapavessis and Pedan are backbones of the BSU power play; Pedan has particularly been impressive stepping up to be a viable power play threat as a freshman.

They’re the only two Beavers to get nods for the league awards.

I don’t have many quibbles with the other players who won the player of the year awards or the all-WCHA teams, although I do think Cory Ward deserved a nod somewhere on the second or third team.

Ward, a sophomore from Las Vegas, has 18 goals in 36 games and is No. 4 in the league in goals.

Granted, there are a ton of talented forwards in the league this year so I don’t think he was necessarily snubbed, but he would have gotten my vote somewhere on the all-league team.

Alaska’s Cody Kunyk won the league’s player of the year (and rightly so) while the Nanooks’ Colton Parayko won the defensive player of the year.

Lake State’s Alex Globke was the golatending champion and Minnesota State’s Cole Huggins was goaltending champion.

Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels was coach of the year.

Just for fun, let’s take a look at my preseason picks for the all-league teams. I was a bit off:

Forwards: Matt Leitner, MSU; Alex Petan, Tech; Ryan Carpenter, BGSU

Defensemen: Matt Prapavessis, BSU; Travis Binkley, Ferris

Goaltender: Andrew Walsh, BSU

Player of the Year: Leitner

Rookie of the Year: Brendan Harms, BSU

At least I got Leitner right for first-team all-WCHA forward.
Here’s what the league media said when we combined our brainpower. We were also slightly off.
Preseason Player Of The Year

Matt Leitner, F, Minnesota State

Others receiving votes: Garrett Thompson, F, Ferris State; Stephon Williams, G, Minnesota State

Preseason Rookie Of The Year

Zach Stepan, F, Minnesota State

Others receiving votes: Tomas Sholl, G, Bowling Green; Brendan Harms, F, Bemidji State; Mathias Dahlstrom, G, Northern Michigan; Cliff Watson, D, Michigan Tech

Preseason All-WCHA Team

Forwards

Matt Leitner, Minnesota State; Alex Petan, Michigan Tech; Ryan Carpenter, Bowling Green

Others receiving votes: Cody Kunyk, Alaska; Reed Seckel, Northern Michigan; Stephan Vigier, Northern Michigan

Defensemen

Jason Binkley, Ferris State; Zach Palmquist, D, Minnesota State

Others receiving votes: Matt Prapavessis, Bemidji State; Ralfs Freibergs, Bowling Green; Colton Parayko, Alaska; CJ Ludwig, Northern Michigan

Goaltender

Stephon Williams, Minnesota State

Others receiving votes: CJ Motte, Ferris State; Andrew Walsh, Bemidji State.

Clearly, much like everything else in this new-look WCHA, all we knew is that we didn’t know a whole lot.

Some stray playoff thoughts

Bemidji State is in.

Barely.

It took a pair of tight 2-1 Ferris State wins over Lake Superior State, but the Beavers made the WCHA playoffs even despite getting swept at Bowling Green last weekend.

And how the Beavers get rewarded for it — a trip to Big Rapids, Mich., to take on the newly-minted league-champion Ferris State in a best-of-three first round playoff series starting Friday.*

*(Note: If you want to watch it, it will cost you money. Apparently the league is charging $9 per game during the playoffs. Even if you already paid for a full-season media package. So get ready to spend.)

ANYWAY: BSU is in, and as we know anything can happen in the playoffs.

But the fact that they’re in at all wasn’t a given until about 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Beavers conceded 10 goals to the Falcons — and their top-10 ranked penalty kill gave up four power play goals to Bowling Green during their weekend sweep.

Lake Superior State, on the other hand, played a couple of tight games they could have won but lost 2-1.

But they’re out and Bemidji State is in.

Hockey is weird sometimes, isn’t it?

The Beavers and the Lakers were tied with 24 points in the standings but BSU held the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lakers.

And because Lake State failed to beat BSU one extra time, head coach Jim Roque lost his job.

It’s a little crazy that literally one win — a tie, even — could have cost a coach a job, especially in this new WCHA where the margin between third and ninth was so thin. The guy couldn’t have done much more.

(For a good take on Lake State’s situation, be sure to read Adam Wodon’s column over at College Hockey News. He points out that the Lakers aren’t in a unique situation… it’s one that programs of similar size/financial situations — like BSU — could also find themselves in.)

Bemidji State, meanwhile, might want to send Roque a fruit basket or something for his trouble.

The Beavers backed into the playoffs after losing six of their last eight games — that includes that 2-1 loss to Huntsville at home.

They might be a little lucky to be there, but they’re in the playoffs against a Ferris State team they’ve played decently against.

BSU is 1-3 against Ferris and 0-2 in Big Rapids but, strangely, BSU’s 2-1 win over FSU at the Sanford Center might have been the worst played against them (at least, offensively).

After taking a 2-1 lead into the first intermission the Beavers managed just five shots on goal the rest of the game. They played a solid defensive game and Andrew Walsh stood on his head to help BSU escape with the win.

In Big Rapids, though, BSU is 0-2 but nearly stole both of them. In the Friday game BSU had a third period lead before FSU tied it then won in overtime 5-4. In Saturday’s game, Walsh gave up four first period goals — Reid Mimmack came on to relieve him in the second period — but the Beavers scored the next three to make it a game again before eventually losing 5-3.

So: We’ve seen BSU play well at times against the Bulldogs. They’ll have to do it twice in three days to go to the Final Five.

I’ll have more on this in Friday’s paper so look for that.

PLAYOFF UPDATE: Going into the final game, Beavers need some help

Somewhere, there’s a Hollywood voiceover guy who is out of work because the WCHA didn’t think to hire him for an end of the season promo: “IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS!”

As cliche as that might sound, it’s absolutely true for three WCHA teams — Bemidji State especially.

BSU, Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State are fighting for the three remaining playoff spots.

And with Bemidji State’s 5-3 loss last night to Bowling Green, it becomes more difficult for BSU in that the Beavers have to rely on other teams if they want to make the playoffs.

(For perspective from guys who were actually there covering the game last night, read Kevin Gordon of the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune and John Wagner of the Toledo Blade. Both good writers.)

Anyway, there are a ton of scenerios out there for Bemidji State. Obviously the slim possibility that they would be able to have home ice is gone (they needed a sweep) but now even getting in requires some help.

In the simplest terms possible: Bemidji State needs Ferris State to beat Lake Superior State. If the Bulldogs take care of business then no matter what else happens the Beavers are in.

Anything else and things get really crazy.

Even just beating Bowling Green tonight won’t do because there are some crazy tiebreakers in play.

Here’s what the league has to say about all the possibilities for Bemidji State. You might want to sit down and have a coffee, it’s a long one:

Bemidji State -
Seeded 6th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State loss, and a Minnesota State loss or tie.
Seeded 6th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State tie, and a Minnesota State loss.
Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State loss, and a Minnesota State win.
Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State tie, and a Minnesota State win or tie.
Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State loss, and a Minnesota State loss or tie.
Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State tie, and a Minnesota State loss.
Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, and a Northern Michigan loss.
Seeded 8th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State loss, and a Minnesota State win.
Seeded 8th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State tie, and a Minnesota State win or tie.
Seeded 8th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan loss, and a Lake Superior State win.
Seeded 8th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, a Northern Michigan tie, and a Lake Superior State loss or tie.
Seeded 8th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, and a Northern Michigan win.
Seeded 8th with a tie and a Lake Superior State loss.
Seeded 8th with a tie, a Northern Michigan win or tie, and a Lake Superior State tie.
Seeded 8th with a loss and a Lake Superior State loss.
Finishes 9th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, and a Lake Superior State win.
Finishes 9th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, a Northern Michigan tie, and a Lake Superior State win.
Finishes 9th with a tie, a Northern Michigan loss, and a Lake Superior State tie.
Finishes 9th with a tie and a Lake Superior State win.
Finishes 9th with a loss and a Lake Superior State win or tie.

Easy, right? Read the whole release here from the league if you want to know every single combination for every team.

Also, like always, the good folks at UAHHockey.com have started a new website dedicated solely to the WCHA playoff probabilities. Which is awesome considering UAH has been out of the running for a long time. I suggest reading it now.

One thing’s for sure: That loss to Huntsville is going to come back to haunt BSU all summer should they miss the playoffs this season.

WCHA playoff picture: No One Knows

Way back in October the only thing anybody really knew about the first season of the new-look Western Collegiate Hockey Association was that nobody really knew anything about the new-look Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Fast forward five months and it turns out everyone was right: Pretty much nobody knew anything about the new-look Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Just look at that media poll. Man, we kinda sucked. Pretty much the only thing we got right: Minnesota State and Ferris State were going to finish No. 1 and No. 2 and Alabama-Huntsville is going to finish No. 10. (Although I SEVERELY underestimated how good the resurgent Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves were going to be this year… and had them finishing 10th behind UAH. Whoops.)

Everything else?

It’s still too close to call.

That’s right. With two games left in the season more than HALF of the teams in the WCHA could finish as high as fourth or could be left out of the playoffs altogether.

Geof over at UAHHockey.com has an awesome rundown off all the possible scenarios, so you should read that here. (It’s nice having not one but two engineering schools in this new WCHA, isn’t it? They can do all the hard math for us!)

Anyway the nitty-gritty for you Beaver fans as it relates to Bemijdi State: BSU would finish as high as fourth and get home ice. It could also finish out of the playoffs. Here’s what needs to happen:

-BSU GETS HOME ICE IF: This one relies most on other teams. The Beavers have to sweep Bowling Green this weekend. They also need Alaska to sweep Anchorage, Mankato to sweep Tech and need Ferris to earn at least one point against Lake Superior. If that happens both BSU and Tech finish with 28 points and BSU wins a tiebreaker based on winning percentage against Mankato (BSU beat Mankato once. If Tech is swept by the Mavs, they’ll end the season winless against them.)

-BSU IS IN THE PLAYOFFS IF: If BSU sweeps BGSU they’re in automatically no matter what everyone else does (they may not get home ice but they’ll be in, and that’s what matters).
That’s the only guarantee that BSU is in — a sweep of Bowling Green.

Anything else and the Beavers need help from other teams. I tried to do all the math myself but you’d probably be better off just reading Geof’s recap. There are still a million possibilities, all of which depend on what other teams do.

Basically: BSU is in if they sweep and should be in good shape if they get at least one win.

-BSU IS OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS IF: This is where it gets tricky. If Bowling Green sweeps BSU one wouldn’t think they’d be in playoff position, but think again: If both Bemidji State and Lake State are swept this weekend, Bemidji State wins the tiebreaker and makes the playoffs as the No. 8 seed.

The Beavers, obviously, would rather not take that chance and rely on another team to do their dirty work for them. It behooves them to get the sweep.

Long story short for BSU fans: Root for the sweep, but also root for Ferris State to beat Lake State, Fairbanks to beat Anchorage, Mankato to beat Tech and, maybe most painfully, Huntsville to beat Northern Michigan (I know, but NMU is a point behind BSU and Lake State in the standings now. If UAH beats NMU once and BSU gets a win, BSU is in no matter what.)

I’ll have more on this later in the week. Maybe. I don’t like math so if I figure anything else out I’ll post it.

A View To Kill: Bemidji State’s penalty kill vs. Minnesota State’s power play

(I don’t apologize for this. I’m only sorry I didn’t use “A View To A Kill” as the headline in the newspaper today. Or, come to think of it, the headline “Killing In The Name Of.” That one, of course, is NSFW because it has lots of swears at the end.)

Sorry for the lack of updates. The BSU men have been on the road (in Alaska, nonetheless) and then had a bye week since l last posted during the North Dakota series and I figured it was high time for an update.

I wrote in Friday’s paper on the “Seahawks-Broncos” matchup that is this weekend’s series (BSU defenseman Sam Rendle brilliantly put it into those terms during Tuesday’s media day).

Anyway, if you haven’t heard: The Beavers have the top penalty kill in the WCHA and are No. 4 nationally while MSU’s penalty kill is No. 1 in the league and also No. 4 nationally. (MSU’s PK is also strong — the Mavs are No. 2 in the league and No. 2 nationally… they put the “special” in “special teams” if you will allow for the cheesy turn of phrase).

Anyway: In other words, it’s a perfect Seahawks-Broncos scenario.

Let’s delve a little deeper into some of the numbers.

BSU’s PK is 113-for-128, or 88.3 percent. Vermont is a tenth of a point better at 88.4 percent while Boston College is No. 1 with 91.1 percent (Quinnipiac is second at 90.6).

Up until recently BSU’s 113 penalties killed were tops in the nation. BSU is also the least penalized team — at least in terms of penalty minutes — in the league.*

*(That, however, is a deceiving number, since it doesn’t take into account 5 minute major and game misconduct penalties that might be the result of line brawls. Perhaps not surprisingly, Minnesota State and Ferris State are No. 1 and 2, respectively, in terms of total penalty minutes — due almost entirely to their line brawl a few weeks ago. Rensselaer, which also had a huge fight with rivals Union two weeks ago, is No. 3).

Anyhow, the last time the Beavers gave up a power play goal was Jan. 11 at Lake Superior State. They gave up two against Northern Michigan Jan. 3 — the first game back from the holiday break. So since the break they’re 28-for-31 — 90.3 percent.

Obviously the Beavers would prefer to stay out of the box altogether but it’s clear that they’re enjoying killing penalties. During the North Dakota series UND had eight power play chances but only once or twice — maybe it’s more, forgive my faulty memory from three weeks ago — did UND have a really solid power play.

Mostly, it seemed as though BSU was not letting UND get set up in the zone. And when the Beavers did they were not letting shots get through. As a team they had 44 blocks in the series — and I’d wager at least half were on the power play.

That’s why it will be so interesting to see how MSU will fare when they have power plays against BSU.

If we just looked back to the 10 games since the holiday break, MSU has scored 14 times on the man-advantage — best in the country. Jean-Paul Lafontaine scored five of those goals.

MSU has also had the most power play chances (52) of any team since the break.

So it seems to me that the basic gameplan for the Beavers is this: Don’t go into the penalty box if at all possible. But if they do, make sure you don’t give guys like Lafontaine any good looks at the goal.

Of course, it’s always more nuanced than that. And besides, last week when I talked to some of the players they said while they’d rather now be killing penalties to begin with (duh), once they do it gives them a jolt of momentum.

Last time out against Alaska (a 4-0 BSU win) the Beavers scored the first goal — on the power play — but were whistled for three straight penalties midway through the first period. That meant the Beavers were essentially killing a six-minute long Nanooks power play. They killed two, then half of the third before the Nanooks were finally whistled for a penalty midway through. The teams skated 4-on-4 for about 30 seconds and then BSU scored on its own mini power play to make it 2-0.

BSU has only scored one shorthanded goal this year but for them, it seems, their penalty killing prowess benefits them more once they leave the box.

Against Minnesota State that may be the best way to score — kill some penalties, frustrate the opponent then take advantage.

Friday afternoon reading: North Dakota (UPDATE: NOW WITH LINES!)

(Today’s music courtesy of Parquet Courts. One of my favorite albums of 2013. I suggest you listen to it, and you really have no reason not to since it’s streaming for free on the internet.)

Hey there. If you haven’t heard, it’s North Dakota Friday. As of 9:40 a.m. today there were 200 tickets left for tonight’s game, not sure what the availability is as I write this (around 1 p.m.).

The Beavers are, rightly, excited for this weekend’s series. I’m expecting it to be the biggest home crowd of the year for BSU — even bigger than the Minnesota series at the beginning of the season — so the Beavers want to put on a good show for the crowd here in Bemidji.

BSU should greet said fans with an improved power play that scored four times in last weekend’s series sweep of Lake Superior State. This after going 0-for-9 on the PP against Northern Michigan.

The Fighting Sioux UND, on the other hand, is on a seven game winning streak but the players remember well the last time they were in Bemidji. It was a 1-0 BSU win in 2011 — which isn’t that long ago but after the past two seasons the Beavers have had combined with all the changes in the college hockey world it seems like ages.

The Bemidji State women are also in action this afternoon against Wisconsin — I’m going to try and catch at least a little bit of that game if I can make it over there.

The Beavers had a bad time in Madison in December and would very much like to show the No. 2 Badgers that they can compete with them.

Stay tuned here later for lines from the men’s game and maybe another blog post if I can swing it. No promises…

Lines for tonight’s game right here. Walsh starting for Wilkins today for BSU. Not totally a surprise since Serratore said he wasn’t sure who would get the nod.

BEMIDJI STATE
FORWARDS
23 Markus Gerbrandt–13 Cory Ward–28 Brendan Harms
18 Radoslav Illo–12 Jeff Jubinville–16 Danny Mattson
29 Phil Brewer–27 Mitch Cain–22 Charlie O’Connor
9 Phillip Marinaccio–6 Nate Arentz–26 Bob Kinne
DEFENSE
14 D.J. Jones–4 Sam Windle
25 Ruslan Pedan–7 Matt Prapavessis
3 James Hansen–11 Graeme McCormack
GOALTENDERS
30 Andrew Walsh
33 Reid Mimmack

NORTH DAKOTA
FORWARDS

21 Brendan O’Donnell–16 Mark MacMillan–15 Michael Parks
28 Stephane Pattyn–13 Connor Gaarder–11 Derek Rodwell
9 Drake Caggiula–19 Rocco Grimaldi–27 Luke Johnson
29 Bryn Chyzyk–17 Colten St. Clair–7 Wade Murphy
DEFENSE
18 Dillon Simpson–24 Jordan Schmaltz
5 Nick Mattson–6 Paul LaDue
20 Gage Ausmus–2 Troy Stecher
GOALTENDERS
31 Zane Gothberg
33 Clarke Saunders

Monday notes: I’m back! Also, Bemidji State gets the sweep

I don’t have a whole lot to writer today but just to prove I haven’t died or abandoned this blog I thought I’d come out of the woodwork to post a little something on last weekend’s BSU sweep at Lake Superior State.

The Beavers snapped an 8-game winless streak with a much-needed 5-2 victory in Sault Ste. Marie Friday then came back Saturday and did it again, topping the Lakers 3-1 to complete the sweep.

Matt Prapavessis was the offensive star of the weekend for BSU, picking up two goals and an assist — both on the power play — on the weekend. Markus Gerbrandt also had two goals, as did Brendan Harms, who scored twice o Friday.

Freshman goaltender Jessie Wilkins was also outstanding for the Beavers, picking up his first two career victories. He made 43 saves Friday and 34 Saturday.

The sweep gave BSU sole possession of fourth place (aka, home ice position) in the WCHA standings. Before the weekend they were in a three-way tie for fourth. But because of BSU’s sweep (and Tech’s sweep by Ferris) the Beavers gave themselves a little breathing room. They have 18 points while fifth-place Alaska Anchorage swooped ahead of Tech and Lake State with 16 points after sweeping Minnesota State.

The Seawolves could theoretically leapfrog BSU for fourth this weekend, as they take on Alabama-Huntsville (OK, will probably leapfrog… sorry, Huntsville) on the road and BSU steps outside of WCHA play for a home-and-home against North Dakota.

The good news for BSU is both Lake State and Tech are also idle (Lakers take on Notre Dame in nonconference play and Tech has the week off) so even if the Seawolves do pass the Beavers in the standings they won’t have to worry too much about the teams below them — at least for now.

Anyway, this whole post got way longer than I was intending.

North Dakota comes to town Friday riding a 7-game winning streak. I’ve heard rumors that this game is going to be sold out. Buckle up, I have a feeling it’s going to be very interesting at the Sanford Center.

More on that later this week.

Fargo to host 2015 hockey regional

The NCAA just announced the next four Frozen Four locations and the NCAA regional locations for the next two years.

And Fargo’s Scheel’s Arena will be the site of the 2015 West Regional.

Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported that North Dakota is hosting the regional and worked on the bid in conjunction with people from both Ralph Englestad and Scheel’s arenas.

I believe (though I’m not certain) that this is the closest a potential regional site has ever been to Bemidji (aside, of course, from the Division II and NAIA years when Bemidji and the John Glas Field House hosted the final four and championships… I’m talking D-I).

Assuming, of course, that BSU makes the tournament in 2015, I don’t think much effort would be made in to keeping the Beavers close to home. UND would automatically be placed there as a host and only the top four seeds are placed as close to home as a point.

Either way: It’s nice to see a regional in our area. Usually the closest is Minneapolis. Duluth still hasn’t gotten a regional yet, and UND will probably never be able to hold one at the Ralph (gee, I wonder why…) so Fargo is a good fit.

Now BSU fans just need to hope the Beavers can get a tournament bid and stay close to home next season.

Also interesting: The NCAA awarded South Bend, Ind., with the Midwest Regional. It will be at Notre Dame’s new on-campus rink, which I hear is beautiful (and looks weird on TV because it doesn’t have a single advertisement on the boards). But the NCAA has previously had a policy about not using on-campus rinks for regional sites (or at least, using the “home arenas” of a particular school). It could open the door for places like Mankato, St. Cloud, Ann Arbor or Madison to (maybe, possibly) host someday.

Looking past 2015, the NCAA also awarded a 2016 regional to St. Paul as well as the 2018 Frozen Four. Chicago will also host its first-ever Frozen Four in 2017.

Finally, the NCAA also released the list of the next four women’s Frozen Fours. Minnesota is hosting twice (because of course the Gophers need that extra advantage). Interestingly, St. Charles, Mo. — home of BSU opponent Lindenwood — will host in 2017.

NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT
2015 NCAA regionals
EAST: Providence, R.I.
NORTHEAST: Manchester, N.H.
MIDWEST: South Bend, Ind.
WEST: Fargo
FROZEN FOUR — Boston

2016 NCAA regionals
EAST: Albany, N.Y.
NORTHEAST: Worcester, Mass.
MIDWEST: Cincinnati
WEST: St. Paul
FROZEN FOUR — Tampa, Fla.

2017 FROZEN FOUR — Chicago
2018 FROZEN FOUR — St. Paul

NCAA WOMEN’S FROZEN FOURS
2015 — Minneapolis
2016 — Durham, N.H.
2017 — St. Charles, Mo.
2018 — Minneapolis

Check out the Grand Forks Herald for more on this story as it develops… and we’ll be putting all their reporting in the paper and on our website as well (hey, being owned by the same newspaper company has its perks… we get to pool resources with one of the top college hockey guys in the biz).

 

MIAMI at BEMIDJI STATE: Series finale

Bemidji State plays Miami in tonight’s series finale at the Sanford Center. It’s the end of a six-game homestand for BSU. I don’t know what I’m going to do next weekend without a game to go to.

The Beavers scored three goals in the third last night to rally for the 4-4 tie.

They’ll look for the rematch tonight behind sophomore goaltender Reid Mimmack. The Brainerd native is making his first career start in goal for Bemidji State. The Warriors playing the football state title game as we speak so I don’t know how big the Brainerd contingent will be tonight but in all it’s gotta be a pretty nice sports day down in Crow Wing County.

Other than that, a few changes for Bemidji State. Matt Hartmann is out with an injury and D Carter Struthers will make his collegiate debut. Looks like the Beavers don’t have enough healthy forwards today so the fourth line will be rotated with Phil Marinaccio and Phil Brewer.

Meanwhile, wholesale changes for Miami (like, no line is the same).

Lines are below.

BEMIDJI STATE (5-7-3)
FORWARDS
Mattson-Ward-Harms
Gerbrandt-Jubinville-Illo
Kinne-Cain-Robbins
Marinaccio-Brewer
DEFENSE
Rendle-Windle
Pedan-Prapavessis
Hansen-McCormack
Struthers
GOALTENDERS
Mimmack
Wilkins

MIAMI (7-6-2)
FORWARDS
Louis-Coleman-Cook
Morris-Kurlay-Mullin
Paulazzo-Greenberg-Wideman
Loe-Czarnik-Barber
DEFENSE
Caito-Wingels
Joyaux-Richart
Mooney-Paulides
GOALTENDERS
McKay
Jacaruso