Beavers Take Stab At Lumberjacks/Spuds Rivalry

Bemidji hosts Moorhead in boys hockey tonight.

Now, this isn’t necessarily Beavers-related, per say, but it’s significant because this season, for the first time in a long time, the Beavers have both a former Bemidji Lumberjacks and a former Moorhead Spud playing on the same team.

Freshman forward Jordan Heller and freshman goaltender Michael Bitzer are friends and teammates now, but back in high school they were fierce rivals.

“Me and him always go at it, trash talk each other a bit,” Heller said. “We played against each other for three years in high school. It was always a battle.”

Bemidji/Moorhead might not get the play around the state that, say, Warroad/Roseau gets — they aren’t just 20 miles away like those two schools — but considering the Lumberjacks and the Spuds are the two biggest schools in northwest Minnesota it makes sense that there’s some hatred there. It seems like, in every sport, Bemidji and Moorhead are always fighting for supremacy in Section 8.

The Lumberjacks finally beat the Spuds this year — a 4-2 comeback victory in Moorhead that was the start of their current 13-game win streak.

“We haven’t got past Moorhead in the past couple years so when we finally got past them this year I gave it to him a little bit.”

Heller — just the third Bemidji High School graduate to suit up for the Beavers in their Division 1 era — played on the BHS varsity team from 2009-12; Bitzer was at Moorhead from 2008-12.

Bitzer played in three state tournaments and won Minnesota’s Frank Brimsek Award in 2012 as the state’s top goaltender.

The Lumberjacks haven’t made the state tournament since 1986 — in part due to the Spuds’ dominance.

Bitzer said the two plan on going to the game tonight — something he’d planned since the last Bemidji/Moorhead game.

“Me and Heller have been heckling each other a little bit,” Bitzer said. “The Jacks beat them earlier in the year, so ever since then I’ve been waiting for this game on  the schedule for sure.”

Heller said they’d be bringing their teammates to the game too — makes sense, since it should be an outstanding one. The Lumberjacks are 13-1-1 and are No. 11 in Class AA while the Spuds are No. 17 and 9-5-2.

The game is set to begin at 7:30 at the Bemidji Community Arena. That’s less than three hours so you should have plenty of time to get a seat.

My USCHO ballot this week

Just real quick for you, here’s my USCHO ballot. Minnesota Stat is No. 1 for the first time ever and they were who I picked for the top slot, too. Of the teams in last week’s top ten the Mavs were the only ones to go unbeaten.

They take on Ferris State this week so we’ll see if this whole “curse of No. 1” befalls them too.

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