In honor of the Sanford Center’s most recent (and not cancelled!) concert last week, it’s fitting that the Bemidji State men’s hockey team’s reintroduction to the USCHO.com top 20 poll for the first time since 2010 comes in at….Eighteen!
That’s right. The BSU men’s hockey team is 4-0-0 for the first time since 2005-06, which gave pollsters more than enough reasons to vote them as the 18th-best team in the country at the moment. For the record, I am a USCHO voter and put them at No. 11. That may be high. But the Beavers are one of just six unbeaten and untied teams left in the country. (The Ivies haven’t played yet, but everyone else has had at least one series.)
Obviously it’s still early, so we need to — as we always do with human polls — take these with a grain of salt.
But if the Beavers did get some votes in last week’s poll after their defeat of Bowling Green. And if they can can earn some “points” against unanimous No. 1 North Dakota this weekend — I think they’ll be a little more legit in the eyes of the rest of the country’s voters. (FWIW, the Beavers didn’t crack the USA Today/USA Hockey Coaches poll rankings this week, but that one is just a top 15. BSU did earn votes in that poll, however.)
Minnesota State clocked in at No. 9 in the USCHO and USA Today polls while Lake Superior State, who routed instate rivals Michigan State last weekend, got votes in both polls to round out the WCHA presence.
Aside from the men’s hockey team, the BSU women’s hockey and football teams also got some poll love this week.
The women’s hockey team is No. 10 in the USCHO poll — dropping from No. 8. They play at No. 4 Minnesota Duluth this weekend.
And the Beaver football team, which was No. 22 in last week’s AFCA D2 coaches poll, moved up to No. 21 after their homecoming rout of Minot State. The Beavers are also ranked in the D2Football.com rankings as well (also No. 21, which was last week… they’ll probably move up in this week’s poll, which comes out Tuesday).
The Beaver football team ALSO takes on a ranked Minnesota Duluth team in Duluth this weekend. The Bulldogs are No. 24. Both teams are 6-1 and the winner will basically have a clear path to an NCAA tournament berth.
Bitzer named player of the week
One more piece of news: The WCHA just announced its player of the week awards for the last week, and unless you really hate goaltenders, Michael Bitzer being named defensive POTW for last week was a no-doubter.
Bitzer notched a pair of 2-0 shutouts last weekend as BSU beat Northern Michigan in Marquette. He made 21 saves in each game for his 11th and 12th career shutouts. That coincidentally, ties him for BSU’s program all-time lead with former Beaver great Matt Climie and also makes Bitzer the NCAA’s active shutout leader.
One more note: Bitzer is currently 4-0, has a 0.50 goals against average and .977 save percentage. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.