The Bemidji State men’s hockey team released its 2017-18 schedule on Thursday afternoon. There were few surprises: The Beavers should have another challenging nonconference slate ahead of them.
Aside from the typical home-and-homes with U.S.Highway 2 rivals Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota, this season also sees the return of an old rival (that is a homecoming as well).
Air Force returns to the Beavers schedule for the first time since 2009-10. The Falcons visit the Sanford Center Oct. 20-21 in what I have already dubbed the “Serratore Classic.” BSU head coach Tom Serratore’s brother Frank is Air Force’s head coach, and Tom’s son Matt, a former Bemidji High School Star, will be a junior winger for the Falcons next season. Air Force was 27-10-5 last season and made it to the NCAA East Regional Final before losing to Harvard.
If you’re keeping track, that’s three nonconference opponents who made the NCAA tournament last year, including the national runners-up, the 2015 champions, plus Air Force. (In all it’s four when you add in WCHA tournament champions Michigan Tech).
Princeton rounds out the nonconference portion of the schedule for BSU. After the Tigers came to Bemidji last season, BSU will make its first trip to New Jersey over Thanksgiving weekend for the odd Wednesday/Friday series.
BSU starts the season Oct. 13 at home against Minnesota Duluth before traveling to Duluth on Oct. 14. Air Force comes here the next weekend (Oct. 20-21), followed by the WCHA opener Oct. 27-28 against Ferris State.
The week after that, they head to Fairbanks (Nov. 3-4) for their first real road trip of the season. It’s also their only trip North to Alaska in 2017-18, which is good news for BSU’s travel budget.
One weird quirk of the schedule this year: The Beavers play neither Bowling Green nor Michigan Tech at home this season. They play each team for one series each and both of those are on the road.
In all the Beavers play an even number of home and road dates (18).