PREGAME WARMUP: Halloween edition

It took me far too long to find some appropriate Halloween music for this week’s blog post, so instead you should just listen to the “Zombie” by the Cranberries on repeat, just because.

The Beaver men’s team is in Marquette, Mich., tonight to take on Northern Michigan. BSU is looking for its first WCHA win of the season after being swept by Minnesota State.

The women are back home after being swept by Wisconsin on the road last weekend. They host St. Cloud State, which picked up its first win last week against North Dakota. The Beavers will miss senior forward Stephanie Anderson for one game this weekend and all of the next series at Ohio State, as she will be competing for Team USA in the Four Nations Cup in Sweden.

BSU remains No. 6 in the country in the poll.

The main feature in the story today is on Kyle Bauman, a Florida native who nearly quit playing hockey before his freshman season. But a last-minute call from head coach Tom Serratore in the summer brought him on board. Now, the sophomore is one of BSU’s most reliable players.

The Beavers are on their first real road trip of the season after playing four of their first five games at home. The Wildcats, meanwhile, have their first two-game home series of the year after a road series at Wisconsin and a pair of home and homes against UP rivals Michigan Tech and Lake Superior State.

Shane Frederick and I made our WCHA picks this weekend on USCHO (FWIW, I picked BSU and NMU to split) and also wrote a column on the league earlier this week.

Also: If you want to watch me be awkward on camera, we’ve started a new video series called “Beaver Banter” where I talk to various BSU athletes about things that aren’t necessarily sports. Most recently, Beavers’ goaltender Jesse Wilkins showed us what was on his mask. I’m a big fan for the green Paul Bunyan on the side.

Finally, because I forgot to do it on Monday, here’s my ballot for the USCHO men’s poll. I dropped the Beavers out after they were swept by MSU. Northern Michigan at 2-2-2 appeared on my ballot, however.

1. Boston College (4-1-0)
2. North Dakota (4-0-2)
3. Harvard (0-0-0)
4. Denver (3-1-0)
5. Bowling Green (3-1-1)
6. Omaha (6-0-0)
7. Providence (4-0-1)
8. Boston U (2-1-0)
9. Quinnipiac (6-0-0)
10. Merrimack (2-0-2)
11. Duluth (2-1-2)
12. Michigan Tech (2-2-0)
13. Lowell (3-0-2)
14. Yale (0-0-0)
15. St. Cloud (4-2-0)
16. St. Lawrence (4-2-0)
17. Miami (3-2-1)
18. Clarkson (5-1-0)
19. Northern Michigan (2-2-2)
20. Michigan (3-0-1)

Monday recap: Poll position

Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer

Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer

I had intended on posting on the blog Sunday, but I got back from Grand Forks and got tired.

Luckily, though, my neglect to post means I can write this Monday blog post on the release of the national polls.

Both the Beaver women and the Beaver men are getting some national love, although the women more than the men.

Let’s start with the Beaver women. Jim Scanlan’s squad remained unbeaten this weekend with their 0-0 tie of North Dakota on Friday in Bemidji followed by their comeback overtime victory over UND on Saturday in Grand Forks.

The national pollsters took notice. The Beavers jumped from No. 8 to No. 6, leapfrogging North Dakota in the process. It’s the highest-ranking in program history for any BSU women’s team.

Check the full poll here. BSU will get a chance to further prove their credentials this weekend when they head to Madison to take on No. 3 Wisconsin. The Badgers are 6-0-0 and have outscored opponents 35-2, so it should be a fun to see BSU’s defense — which has given up just five even strength goals this season.

The men, meanwhile, aren’t unbeaten anymore — they lost to North Dakota 5-2 on Saturday in Grand Forks after rallying to tie 4-4 on Friday in Bemidji.

And although the Beavers have received some votes, they’re currently on the outside looking in for USCHO’s most recent men’s poll. They’re unofficially No. 21, with 59 points.

Ahead of them? Minnesota. Yes, Minnesota, the team that is 0-3 and has scored a total of one (1) goal in those three games.

Yes, Minnesota, a team that was swept by Minnesota Duluth — the same team Bemidji State already beat.

The Beavers, in fact, scored three times as many goals in one game against the Bulldogs as the Gophers did in two.

Look, I know it’s early and polls don’t ACTUALLY mean anything, but polls are valuable in letting people know what the college hockey world thinks about this team or that team. The fact that people are still voting for Minnesota despite an 0-3-0 start (as opposed to the 1-1-1 Beavers) just tells you how much having a logo on the front of the sweater means as opposed to what the team actually does.

How many voters that picked Minnesota actually looked at them and said, “Hey, wait a minute! Bemidji beat Duluth and the Gophers lost! Twice!” I’m guessing not many. And they’re probably the same people who continued to vote for Wisconsin at the start of the season (and last week). Thankfully the 0-2-2 Badgers aren’t on the poll anymore.

Anyway, I think the Beavers are worthy of being a top-20 team for now. They’re certainly as deserving as Minnesota (or Minnesota State, which is 0-4-0 and just behind BSU after dropping out of the poll).

I voted the Beavers as No. 13. Maybe this is high. I don’t care. (FWIW, the Beavers are No. 17 in the pairwise, which doesn’t mean much until teams have played more games. But still….)

Here’s my ballot. I don’t think it’s unreasonable. And you’ll notice I dropped out both the Gophers and the Mavericks. If you’re 0-3-0 (or 0-4-0) after two weeks, you’re not a top-20 team (for now… this could change, obviously). Anyway, take a look and let me know what you think.

1. Boston College
2. North Dakota
3. Harvard
4. Denver
5. Bowling Green
6. Duluth
7. Omaha
8. Providence
9. Boston U
10. Michigan Tech
11. Lowell
12. Yale
13. Bemidji State
14. St. Cloud
15. Quinnipiac
16. St. Lawrence
17. Michigan
18. Colgate
19. Clarkson
20. Union

Finally, unrelated to BSU but since the Beavers were in NoDak Nation on Saturday (This is the actual name of UND’s student section. They had a giant banner with that name on it. Is the UND administration doubling down on that one and just putting all its eggs in that “NoDak” basket?), I thought it would be worth mentioning that North Dakota’s nickname vote starts today. Which means that the next time BSU and UND play, both teams will have a nickname (well, maybe… this is North Dakota we’re talking about….)

The options are: NoDaks, sUNDogs, Fighting Hawks, Roughriders and North Stars.

Will they actually pick one or will this go back to court for five more years? STAY TUNED!

PREGAME WARMUP: UND/BSU, home and home doubleheader edition

Not a lot of time to blog, so I’ll be brief:

It’s a big weekend for both Beaver hockey teams (as you know). And with both teams’ good starts (the women 5-1-0 and the men with the smaller-sample-size 1-0), they’re hosting the (Sundogs/Hawks/NoDaks/Roughriders/North Stars) at the opportune time with some opportunity to pick up some momentum.

The women will once again rely on All-American goaltender Brittni Mowat to keep them in it against a UND team that has a pair of solid goaltenders. Mowat has a 0.60 GAA and has allowed just one even strength goal.

I also chatted with Mowat about her mask in a new video series we’re doing. (It was fun, but there’s a reason why I am a print journalist so please go easy on me.)

As for the Beaver men, they have a knack for early-season wins against top ranked teams like North Dakota. (Remember last season in Grand Forks? Yeah, as if BSU fans could forget….)

I also talked with John Parker, also on video.

Finally, over on Shane Frederick and I wrote about the Beavers’ big win over UMD as well as Minnesota State’s tough losses, and did our weekly predictions.

Anyway, the women’s game starts at 2:07 today in Bemidji, so I’ve got to get ready for that. Stay tuned for more.

Poll roundup: Beaver women, men moving on up

Was crazy busy on Monday so didn’t have time to update the blog, but both Bemidji State women’s and men’s teams have moved up in the rankings following their weekend games against Minnesota Duluth.

The women, after sweeping UMD, moved up from No. 9 to No. 8 in the poll. UMD dropped out. This week’s opponent, North Dakota, remained at No. 6. Both the Beavers and the (INSERT NAME HERE, TO BE VOTED ON THIS MONTH) are undefeated. Division I Women’s Poll
Team (First Place) Record Pts LW
1. Minnesota (15) 4-0-0 150 1
T2. Boston College 3 0-0 128 2
T2. Wisconsin 4-0-0 128 3
4. Clarkson 5-0-0 99 5
5. Harvard 0-0-0 89 4
6. North Dakota 4-0-0 74 6
7. Quinnipiac 3-0-1 55 8
8. Bemidji State 5-0-1 50 9
9. Boston University 3-1-0 23 7
10. Cornell 0-0-0 20 10
Others receiving votes: Mercyhurst 6, Northeastern 2, Lindenwood 1.

On the men’s side, the Beavers received four points in the preseason poll but moved way up and got 60 points after upsetting Minnesota Duluth on Saturday. That puts them (unofficially) at No. 22, behind Michigan State (with 61 points). The Bulldogs, conversely, dropped from No. 2 to No. 7 after the loss. Division I Men’s Poll
Team (First Place) Record Pts LW
1. North Dakota (18) 1-0-1 922 4
2. Providence (13) 1-0-1 870 7
3. Nebraska-Omaha (8) 2-0-0 842 10
4. Boston College (7) 1-1-0 832 1
5. Denver 1-1-0 652 5
6. Boston University 0-1-0 647 3
7. Minnesota-Duluth 0-1-0 645 2
8. Harvard (2) 0-0-0 629 8
9. Massachusetts-Lowell (2) 1-0-0 555 14
10. Bowling Green 2-0-0 521 16
11. Michigan 0-0-0 415 13
12. St. Cloud State 2-0-0 412 17
13. Yale 0-0-0 377 12
14. Minnesota State 0-2-0 316 6
15. Minnesota 0-1-0 304 9
16. Michigan Tech 0-0-0 288 15
17. Quinnipiac 2-0-0 284 18
18. Miami 0-1-1 234 11
19. St. Lawrence 2-0-0 211 19
20. Vermont 1-0-0 128 NR
Others receiving votes: Michigan State 61, Bemidji State 60, Union 54, Northeastern 40, Notre Dame 40, Clarkson 24, Penn State 24, Princeton 19, New Hampshire 18, Robert Morris 17, Rensselaer 15, Colgate 10, Mercyhurst 7, Northern Michigan 6, Cornell 5, Maine 5, Massachusetts 5, Ferris State 3, Wisconsin 2, Brown 1.

It’s worth mentioning that North Dakota is No. 1 again in the poll. To that end, here’s my ballot. I didn’t vote UND No. 1 because honestly, I don’t think the (NODAKS/SUNDOGS/ROUGHRIDERS/FIGHTING HAWKS/NORTH STARS) are that much better than Minnesota Duluth. Unlike last year, there’s no clear No. 1 right now (like UND was for much of the season).

1. Boston College
2. North Dakota
3. Harvard
4. Denver
5. Michigan Tech
6. Omaha
7. Bowling Green
8. Boston U
9. Providence
10. Yale
11. Bemidji State
12. Lowell
13. St. Cloud
14. Minnesota State
15. Quinnipiac
16. St. Lawrence
17. Minnesota
18. Colgate
19. Robert Morris
20. Vermont

As you can see: Yeah, I moved the Beavers way up. But honestly, BSU has a pretty good track record against most of the teams ahead of them in the actual poll in each of the past two seasons. And considering Duluth and UND both lost very little from last season, there’s no reason to think the Beavers — who have played very well against both of those teams — can’t hang with them this season too. They at least deserve to be in the discussion. I mean, it’s still early because maybe the Beavers will lose their next eight games and we’ll know they don’t. Maybe they’ll keep winning. Obviously, it’s early this season so there’s still a lot to be worked out.

PREGAME WARMUP: Beaver teams host Duluth as Dog Days of fall begin

The Bemidji State men’s hockey team couldn’t ask for a better (or more difficult) way to open up the season: a home-and-home with No. 2 Minnesota Duluth, with the first leg tonight in Bulldog country before returning to Beaver nation Saturday at the Sanford Center.

It will be a fun weekend of Beaver/Bulldogs madness all around, too, as the No. 9 BSU women’s team hosts UMD Friday and Saturday — meaning Saturday will be a doubleheader featuring a pair of green-vs.-maroon matchups.

The men will be playing for this Babe the Blue Ox Trophy, which is currently in their possession:

In Thursday’s paper I wrote about the women’s team, specifically captain Whitney Wivoda and how her long-tenured presence in Bemidji makes her a very valuable player for Jim Scanlan’s squad.

In today’s edition, I wrote about the men’s team and how BSU’s three veteran defenders — Graeme McCormack, Ruslan Pedan and Brett Beauvais — will have to step into new roles this season.

Matt Wellens of the Duluth News Tribune also has previews for both teams. He wrote about the UMD women’s team’s quest to return to national prominence with new head coach Maura Crowell. And he wrote about the UMD men’s team captain Andy Welinski as well as offering a general overview of where he thinks the Bulldogs are at this season.

One interesting storyline for both the men’s and the women’s team is that both UMD teams are going to want to exact some measure of revenge on BSU. The Beaver women ended UMD’s season with a playoff series win last season and in turn ended the career of former head coach Shannon Miller.

Scanlan said he didn’t think the Bulldogs would necessarily hold a grudge from last year aside from the general rivalry that the two teams are starting to develop.

“It’s a new season. They have new faces and a new coach. They’re just like us, they want to get off to a good start.

“We know the competition level is going to increase quite a bit. I think everybody realizes how important every conference game we play is. Duluth’s got a very good team. We ended their season last year and we’ll turn right around and our first conference series is them. They have some really high end talent up front, Black is one of the better goalies in the league. It’s going to be a challenge every time but for us to start at home is a plus.”

As for the men, the Beavers have played very well against the Bulldogs in the recent past. They’re 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, including a 4-0 shutout last season in the semifinals of the North Star College Cup. For whatever reason the Beavers have historically given the Bulldogs (and their fans) fits. This season the Beavers are probably as deep as they’ve been since the Matt Read era up front, so expect more of the same.

McCormack said UMD will be hungry to take one from the Beavers.

“We zinged them last year in the North Star Cup. I think they’re a little bitter from that. We’re coming in with a little bit of swagger because we’ve got their number. And we’ve got the Babe trophy in the locker room. We know they’re going to be remembering last year and they’re going to be coming in hot for us.”

So there you go. Expect some fireworks in both games. I’m not going to Duluth, but I’ll be Tweeting and following the game on webstream. Ryan Pietruszewski is covering the women’s games this weekend, so be sure to pick up a copy of the paper this weekend for all the coverage.

2015-16 media poll: How I voted

Now that I have a little bit of time this afternoon, I’d like to share with you my vote in the Bemidji Pioneer Preseason Media Poll with some commentary/reasonings on why I voted.

1. Michigan Tech
I went against the grain a little with this pick, but my reason mostly stems from the fact that the Huskies return Jamie Phillips and basically their entire D-corps. But I still think this is a coin flip.

2. Minnesota State
Again, this still seems 50/50. However, the Mavs are without Stephon Williams so I picked the Huskies (although Cole Huggins is a very capable goaltender as well).

3. Bowling Green
The Falcons have everyone back, essentially, and I think they will be a top 10 team. Not sure they’ll be better than Tech or MSU.

4. Bemidji State
The big question mark is which defensemen will step up the hole to fill left by Prapavessis, Windle and Rendle, but they returning Bitzer in goal and 80 percent of their scoring up front.

5. Ferris State
A lot of my votes, it turns out, are goaltending-related. Ferris will miss CJ Motte for sure. The question will now be if they can score.

6. Alaska
They’re going to miss Colton Parayko but have one of the best forwards in the league in Tyler Morley.

7. Northern Michigan
This team was decimated by injuries last season. If they can  rally from that and get everyone healthy I think they’ll finish better than seventh.

8. Alabama Huntsville
Everyone knows about goalie Carmine Guerriero, but expect deeper forward group and more scoring for a more experienced club now.

9. Alaska Anchorage
Last season was really disappointing for the Seawolves after they made the Final Five in 2013-14. If they can sustain their early-season success, maybe they can bounce back.

10. Lake Superior State
Another team with a good goaltender last season, the Lakers were better in the second half of the season. They should be better overall but I don’t think it will be enough to get out of the cellar.

Player of the Year: Alex Petan, Michigan Tech
Pretty tough competition between Petan, MSU’s Bryce Gervais and Alaska’s Tyler Morley for this award. In the end I picked Petan, who could be a legit Hobey Baker candidate. But I picked all three as my All-WCHA forward team (which you can see below).

Newcomer of the Year: Dillon Eichstadt, Bemidji State
This award is always difficult to pick, mostly because I’m not usually familiar with newcomers on other teams. So I picked a BSU freshman that should see a lot of playing time on defense (and a Bemidji native).

All-WCHA Team
G-Michael Bitzer, Bemidji State
D-Casey Nelson, MSU
D-Shane Hanna, Tech
F-Tyler Morley, UAF
F-Alex Petan, Tech
F-Bryce Gervais, MSU
I talked about the forwards above. As for the three others: Bitzer might seem like a homer pick, and maybe it is, but I think he’s up there as one of the top 10 goaltenders in the country.  If anything, the WCHA is stupid with goalie depth. A lot of his performance will depend on his D-men, but I still think he’s going to be solid.

What Does Your Poll Look Like?: 2015-16 WCHA men’s hockey media poll

Hey there. It’s only September, but it’s officially hockey season.

The Bemidji State women start their season this Friday and Saturday at the Sanford Center. I’ll have more on them later this week, but here’s one thing: They started the season ranked No. 9 nationally in the poll. The Beavers finished last season No. 10. They could be in for a special year.

The BSU men are off another week until their first exhibition game on Oct. 4.

All of this is a long way of getting to the point of this blog: It’s once again time for your third-annual Bemidji Pioneer WCHA Men’s Hockey Media Poll (and the WCHA coaches teleconference, which starts in 10 minutes and fans can listen to live HERE).

I started doing this three years ago when the conferences realigned and nobody wanted to do it, and it’s gotten easier and easier every year. That’s mostly because everybody in the new league is more comfortable with one another and the teams in the league, so I’d like to thank everyone who participated this year (and if I forgot everybody, mea culpa).

ANYWAY: The results of this year’s poll, which you can find below, are pretty revealing and consistent. Everybody associated with the league thinks that one of three teams will win this year: Defending MacNaughton Cup and Final Five champs Minnesota State, Michigan Tech and Bowling Green. All three received first-place votes, but the Mavs had 12 — which was enough to edge Michigan Tech for first in the poll (by just two points). Tech had 9 votes and BG 8.

The middle of the league got more interesting. Bemidji State, Alaska, Ferris State and Northern Michigan finished fourth through seventh but all four were ranked everywhere from third to eighth.

The final three teams — Huntsville, Lake Superior State and Alaska Anchorage — were pretty clearly predicted to be fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot in the standings.

As for the player of the year votes: MSU’s Bryce Gervais, Tech’s Alex Petan and Alaska’s Tyler Morley had a pretty good battle for that award. Gervais ended up winning but all three are solid choice.

The newcomer award was a little trickier, as 14 different players were nominated. This is always the hardest to predict, in my opinion, and it’s a crapshoot. Every WCHA team had at least one player nominated for this award, but in the end it was Bowling Green freshman forward Stephen Baylis who won the media vote.

Finally, the preseason All-WCHA team was pretty easy. All six guys basically ran away with the vote and all are deserving winners.

My good friend Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press conducted the coaches poll, the full results of which can be found as soon  as he updates his blog right here. The coaches also picked the Mavs to win, but flipped Bowling Green and Michigan Tech. Also, coaches picked Morley to win the league’s POTY award. They also picked Ferris State’s Corey Mackin as the newcomer of the year.

Enough chit chat. Below is the full media poll. I’ll have my poll submissions a little later.


1. Minnesota State (12), 265
2. Michigan Tech (9), 263
3. Bowling Green (8), 250
4. Bemidji State, 184
5. Alaska, 164
6. Ferris State, 142
7. Northern Michigan, 138
8. Alabama Huntsville, 88
9. Lake Superior State, 54
10. Alaska Anchorage, 47

Preseason Player Of The Year
Bryce Gervais, Sr., F, Minnesota State (9 votes)
Others receiving votes: Alex Petan, Sr., F, Michigan Tech (8 votes); Tyler Morley, Sr., F, Alaska (7); Jamie Phillips, Sr., G, Michigan Tech (1); Carmine Guerriero, Jr., G, Alabama-Huntsville (1); Brad McClure, So., F, Minnesota State (1).

Newcomer of the Year
Stephen Baylis, Fr., F, Bowling Green (5 votes)
Others receiving votes: Corey Mackin, Fr., F, Ferris State (4); Jake Jackson, Fr., F, Michigan Tech (2); Troy Loggins, Fr., F, Northern Michigan (2); Brett Boeing, Fr., F, Michigan Tech (1); Dillon Eichstadt, Fr., D, Bemidji State (1); Owen Headrick, Fr., D, Lake Superior State (1); Jetlan Houcher, Fr., F, Alabama-Huntsville (1); Nikolas Koberstein, Fr., D, Alaska (1); Jake Lucchini, Fr., F, Michigan Tech (1); Chandler Madry, Fr., F, Minnesota State (1); Jimmy Mullin, Sr. (Transfer), F, Minnesota State (1); Anthony Nellis, Fr., F, Lake Superior State (1); Chad Staley, Fr., F, Alaska (1).

Preseason All-WCHA Team
Jamie Phillips, Sr., Michigan Tech
Casey Nelson, Jr., Minnesota State
Shane Hanna, Jr., Michigan Tech
Alex Petan, Sr., Michigan Tech
Bryce Gervais, Sr., Minnesota State
Tyler Morley, Sr., Alaska
Others receiving votes: Goaltender — Michael Bitzer, So., Bemidji State; Carmine Guerriero, Jr., Alabama-Huntsville; Mathias Dahlstrom, Jr., Northern Michigan.
Defensemen — Mark Friedman, So., Bowling Green; Brock Maschmeyer, Jr., Northern Michigan; Matt Roy, So., Michigan Tech; Sean Walker, Jr., Bowling Green; Cliff Watson, Jr., Michigan Tech.
Forwards — Marcus Basara, Jr., Alaska; Teddy Blueger, Sr., Minnesota State; CJ Franklin, So., Minnesota State; Malcolm Gould, Sr., Michigan Tech; Brendan Harms, Jr., Bemidji State; Brandon Hawkins, So., Bowling Green; Brad McClure, So., Minnesota State; Max McHugh, So., Alabama Huntsville; Matt Robertson, Sr. Ferris State; Blake Tatchell, Sr., Alaska Anchorage

Participating media
Justin Bradford, Penalty Box Radio (102.5 FM Nashville); Michael Caples, Michigan Hockey Magazine; Bruce Cech, Alaska radio play-by-play; Brad Coccimiglio,; Dave Danis, Northern Michigan radio play-by-play; Chris Dilks, SB Nation College Hockey; Erik Drygas, Alaska radio color commentary; Drew Evans,; Shane Frederick, Mankato Free Press; Patten Fuqua Penalty Box Radio (102.5 FM Nashville); Kevin Gordon,; Jack Hittinger, The Bemidji Pioneer; Daver Karnosky, Houghton Daily Mining Gazette; Kevin Kurtt, Let’s Play Hockey Magazine; Geof Morris,; Michael Napier,; Tim O’Donnell, Fairbanks Daily News Miner; Justin Prince, Lakeland Public TV sports director; Rob Roos, Sault Ste. Marie Evening News; Jared Shafran, Ferris State radio play-by-play; George Sipple, Detroit Free Press; Ryan Steig, Marquette Daily Mining Journal; Mike Sullivan, Minnesota State radio play-by-play; Scott Theisen, WAFF-TV Huntsville; David Tuttle, Alaska-Anchorage radio play-by-play; John Wagner, Toledo Blade; Nate Wells, SB Nation College Hockey (NOTE: I forgot to add Nate in the original release, because I am an idiot. You should follow him on Twitter and read him on the internet to make up for it); Scott Williams, Lakeland Sports & KBUN Bemidji; Ryan Zuke, Big Rapids Pioneer.

North Star Cup moved to Saturday-Sunday


Hey there. So it’s been a month or so since the last update but with vacations and the dog days of summer, there really hasn’t been much to update on the BSU sports front.

However, now that school is officially in session (classes started Monday) we have some legitimate news: It turns out this season’s North Star College Cup will move from the traditional Friday-Saturday schedule it has used for the past two years and instead change to a Saturday-Sunday schedule at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

So when the Beavers play to defend their title this year, they will be doing it at a more opportune date and time for those in Northern Minnesota who may not be able to travel to the Twin Cities for a Friday afternoon game. They’ll play the Gophers at 4 p.m. Saturday — the second of two semifinal games that afternoon.

Last season the Beavers played Minensota Duluth in a Friday afternoon semifinal game; the stands appeared to be maybe half full for that contest. In Saturday night’s final against Minnesota State there appeared to be a few more fans who showed up to watch BSU beat the Mavs.

This season, the Beavers were to play Minnesota in Friday night’s game. That’s a little more ideal for folks traveling from the Bemidji area, but it’s still a “I have to leave early and take the afternoon off to avoid rush hour traffic to make it to the game on time” situation for most.

The move to a Saturday-Sunday schedule gives everybody a little more time and should guarantee a bigger crowd for both games. Minnesota State and St. Cloud play in the first game, and even though both schools are less than two hours from St. Paul, they will certainly benefit from playing Saturday afternoon as opposed to Friday afternoon.

It doesn’t look like there’s a scheduling conflict that prompted this, either — the Wild are off because that’s All-Star week, and I don’t see any concerts on the schedule for the week previous (unless the X has something big that they haven’t announced yet).

If that’s the case, than this is a good thing: It means tournament organizers actually listened to the fans (and the school administrators and coaches who want their fans to watch games in person). I know plenty of Beaver fans who wanted to go to both games last season but couldn’t take the time off work. This gives them the chance.

-One more scheduling note for the BSU men’s team: The Beavers have added an exhibition game to their schedule for the first time since 2012.

And much like 2012, they will again be playing the University of Manitoba.

The teams will face off on Sunday, Oct. 4, at the Sanford Center. It will be a 1:35 p.m. game.

For what it’s worth, the teams skated to a 3-3 tie last time they played. Brad Robbins and Danny Mattson scored two of the Beavers’ three goals; neither are with the program anymore. Cory Ward scored BSU’s other goal. BSU’s two netminders were Mathieu Dugas and Fabian Sivnert.

Anyway, as you can see, it’s basically a whole new Beavers team (that version of the Beavs had just 6 wins all season) so it should be interesting to see where they stand this time around. They haven’t had any exhibitions the past two seasons so this could be a good warmup for the season opener against Duluth.

-Finally, the Bemidji State women start the season exactly a month from now (Sept. 25 at home against Robert Morris).

Senior defender Ivana Bilic has already started her season. She was a member of the Team Canada National Development team this summer, and played in a three-game series against Team USA last week at Lake Placid, N.Y. Bilic saw time in all three games but didn’t have a point (and had an even plus/minus ranking).

Nothing fancy, but if anything this is going to prepare her for this upcoming season very well.

BSU women 2015-16: Look out, everyone

I did a post yesterday breaking down the Bemidji State men’s hockey roster for the upcoming season.

Because there are just 85 days until the BSU women start their season with a series against Robert Morris on Sept. 25 — the men start in 99 days — I thought it would be best to do the same for the ladies.

And from the looks of it? This team is just going to be even better than they were last year. There are 21 players returning for BSU following their program-record 21-17-1 season in 2015. All four leading point scorers (Kaitlyn Tougas, Stephanie Anderson, Ivana Bilic and Alexis Joyce) have returned, as has their All-American goalie (Brittni Mowat).

This is essentially the same team, minus captain Kristine Grenier, top-line forward Alex Citrowske and a few other depth forwards (Rachael Kelly, Jenessa Philipczyk) and defenders (Kaleigh Chapman).

The Beavers don’t have a whole lot of pieces to replace, but even so the incoming newcomers class looks pretty good. There are five freshman and a transfer. Here’s a look:

5-Melissa Hunt, freshman D
10-Emily Bergland, freshman F
13-Sylvia Marolt, freshman F
18-Lisa Laiti, freshman D
27-Natalie Stanwood, freshman D
28-Bailey Wright, sophomore F (transfer from UMD… sat out last season so not technically a newcomer but she will be able to play this year)

This class looks really solid. Bergland and Marolt were both members of Thief River Falls’ 2015 Class A Minnesota state championship team. Bergland was first-team All-State and scored the game-winning goal for the Prowlers in the title game; she finished the season with 66 points (32 goals). Marolt had 43 points for the Prowlers.

Don’t know much about the other players, although the additions of Laiti and Wright give BSU three players from Alaska. (Oddly, Minnesota and Alaska are the only two US states represented on the roster — the rest are Canadian.) They’ll join Whitney Wivoda as the three Alaskans on the squad.

-The only non-senior departure from last season was goaltender Hannah Paulson, but she didn’t make it into a game last season.

-Looking into it further, there are nine seniors on the roster. Steve Sertich brought in a pretty good class four years ago.

Here’s the breakdown:

Seniors (9): Kristin Huber, Megan Lushanko, Kaitlyn Tougas, Whitney Wivoda, Steph Anderson, Tegan Rose, Ivina Bilic, Mackenzie Brunch, Hannah Moher. Juniors (4): Madison Hutchinson, Carley Esse, Lauren Miller, Brittni Mowat. Sophomores (8): Reilly Fawcett, Ciscely Nelson, Emma Terres, Alexis Joyce, Summer Thibodeau, Alex Bond, Bailey Wright, Erin Deters. Freshmen (5): Melissa Hunt, Emily Bergland, Sylvia Marolt, Lisa Laiti, Natalie Stanwood.

-There are 14 Americans and 12 Canadians on the team.

As far as states and provinces go, Minnesota is the best-represented with 11 players on the team (Fawcett, Esse, Lushanko, Bergland, Marolt, Nelson, Anderson, Terres, Joyce, Thibodeau, Deters). The other three Americans are the aforementioned from Alaska.

Canadian provinces represented are Ontario (5: Tougas, Miller, Bond, Brunch, Moher); Manitoba (3: Hutchinson, Hunt, Mowat); British Columbia (3: Huber, Stanwood, Bilic); Alberta (1: Rose).

Starting the countdown to 2015-16

Hey there. Just checking in after what has been a relaxing (but boring) summer so far. It turns out there are exactly 100 days until the Bemidji State men’s hockey team opens the season at Minnesota Duluth (game is Oct. 9 in Duluth).

So that’s exciting!

And because it’s July 1, I may as well post BSU’s men’s roster. I think it’s been up for a while now, but since I saw MSU beat writer Shane Frederick post about the new Mavericks’ roster today I thought I would steal an idea from him and do the same for BSU’s. (It won’t be the first time I stole one of his good ideas on MSU and used it in my BSU coverage.)

Here are Bemidji State’s seven new incoming recruits, along with their uniform numbers.

2-Dan Billett, freshman D
5-Ian Janco, freshman D
7-TJ Roo, freshman F
16-Mike Soucier, freshman F
17-Adam Lovick, freshman F
20-Dillon Eichstadt, freshman D
29-Justin Baudry, freshman D

Some notes:

-The roster lists Janco as No. 5, but that’s Carter Struthers’ number. I’m guessing they won’t both be No. 5 so one will end up taking Sam Windle’s No. 4. I guess I’ll find out who later.

-Also of note: Just when you got used to identifying BSU’s set of triplets by their numbers, one of them had to go and change it on me. Lovick took Leo Fitzgerald’s No. 17. I assume Leo wanted to switch numbers, which is why he went to No. 19 (that was former co-captain Phil Brewer’s). Gerry and Miles kept Nos. 21 and 26, respectively, so BSU fans only have to remember that the triplet line is now 19-21-26, not 17-21-26. Good to know.

-No other number changes for current players that I can see here. And it looks like BSU hasn’t announced their captains for this season yet, so we’ll have to stay tuned on those. I know some teams announce them in the spring and summer but BSU usually holds off until the team comes back for the fall.

-Breaking down the roster by class: Seniors (4) – John Parker, Graeme McCormack, Cory Ward, Markus Gerbrandt. Juniors (6) – Carter Struthers, Phillip Marinaccio, Nate Arentz, Brendan Harms, Charlie O’Connor, Ruslan Pedan. Sophomores (9) – Michael Bitzer, Kyle Bauman, Jordsn Heller, Leo Fitzgerald, Gerry Fitzgerald, Myles Fitzgerald, Brett Beauvais, Reid Mimmack, Jesse Wilkins. Freshman (8) – Dan Billett, Ian Janco, Jay Dickman, TJ Roo, Mike Soucier, Adam Lovick, Dillon Eichstadt, Justin Baudry.

-Dickman didn’t see any playing time last season so it looks like he’s retaining freshman eligibility as a redshirt. Wilkins also didn’t play last year due to injuury so it looks like he’s listed as a sophomore. Struthers was injured too doesn’t look like he’s taking a redshirt. Not sure how it all works (sometimes they don’t figure out the redshirt stuff until the season is closer to starting) but I’m going to go by how the roster has them listed for now.

-As for the breakdown by state/province/country, here’s the list. Nine Minnesotans on the team, including four from Northern Minnesota (Heller, Eichstadt, Bitzer, Mimmack)

-United States (14) – Minnesota (9): Bitzer, Janco, Dickman, Roo, Arentz, Heller, Lovick, Eichstadt, Mimmack. Colorado (1): Billett. New Jersey (1): Parker. Nevada (1): Ward. Florida (1): Bauman. Illinois (1) O’Connor.

-Canada (12) – Ontario (3): Marinaccio, McCormack, Soucier. British Columbia (3): Fitzgerald triplets. Manitoba (2): Harms, Baudry. Alberta (2): Gerbrandt, Wilkins. Saskatchewan (1): Struthers. Prince Edward Island (1): Beauvais.

-Russia (1) – Ruslan Pedan.

That about does it. Stay tuned for a similar post on the women’s team (they start in 86 days).