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Bemidji State beat writer for the Bemidji Pioneer. Appreciator of books, beer, baseball and rock'n'roll.

WEEKEND RECAP: Minnesota is good, but Bemidji State proved itself

Last weekend’s sweep at the hands of No. 1 Minnesota might have looked like simple cakewalks for those who simple saw the final scorelines.

At least, Friday night’s game – a 5-2 Gopher win — certainly elicited that reaction from some corners of Twitter. This despite the fact that Minnesota only outshot Bemidji State 32-31 and the Beavers’ defense outplayed the Gophers offense, for the most part, at even strength (of course, the Beavers lost the special teams battle 3-1, which was ultimately the difference in the game).

Saturday’s game was a different story, with the Beavers capturing a pair of leads two different times. The Gophers once again used a key power play goal to earn the 5-3 win.

So, on paper it comes off as two losses for BSU. I’d call it a moral victory but head coach Tom Serratore isn’t one for moral victories.

“I told out guys, we’re making strides and we’ve gotta be happy with that, but we can’t be content with a loss either,” Serratore told Beaver Radio Network following the game.

“We haven’t done anything yet. We’ve played some good hockey, but the bottom line is we’re still 1-3. We know who we’ve played. Played some good teams and we respect those teams. We’ve done well on the road. You have to maintain intensity in the league too, and last time I looked our teams are winning a lot of hockey games in our league. There’s no pushovers there. We better not get too far ahead of ourselves.”

Serratore is always a realist, and he has a point: The Beavers have played well against some good teams but at the end of the season the only thing that actually matters, if you’re looking to make the NCAA Tournament and achieve your ultimate goal of the national title, is wins. Well-played losses, while entertaining for fans, don’t do you much for the pairwise, unfortunately.

But look at it this way: The Beavers are playing about as well this early in the season as a 1-3 team has any business playing. Especially against a pair of the nation’s top teams.

Especially encouraging, at least in my eyes, is the way the Beavers were able to skate with the Gophers on the big ice at Mariucci. That may not have been the case in the past — at least, from what I’ve seen.

Also: BSU’s scoring depth is looking solid. Markus Gerbrandt has scored three goals in four games for BSU, as expected, while Cory Ward continued his hot streak over the Gophers with a goal Friday, but BSU’s fourth-liners have been getting into the mix too. Mitch Cain already has a goal and an assist this season while Charlie O’Connor has also scored a goal and played solid minutes in his three games.

The big question, as Serratore told Beaver Radio Network, will be if the Beavers can sustain this in WCHA play. I have no reason to think they won’t… but that’s why they play the games on paper.

BSU plays three more ranked teams in a row now: Alaska at home, at Minnesota State then Michigan Tech at home. A good record against them should give us a better idea of where the Beavers will end up.

Around the WCHA

Speaking of Michigan Tech, the Huskies pulled off the WCHA upset of the year (so far) when they waltzed into Big Rapids, Mich., and took two games from Ferris State at Ewigleben Arena. The Huskies won 1-0 Friday and 2-1 Saturday. Goalie Jamie Phillips stopped 67 of 68 shots.

Also: Minnesota State swept Huntsville and Northern Michigan swept Lake State. The Chargers and the Lakers, as of right now, both look like they’re going to battle for the cellar.

Right now the WCHA is 17-15-3 in nonconference. Doesn’t seem like a lot but the league was 26-46-12 last season so it’s already an improvement.

Poll position

In case anyone was wondering, I’m a USCHO voter these days. Polls don’t mean a whole lot — it’s all about the Pairwise, baby — but polls still serve a purpose, I believe, in giving writers and coaches the chance to show what teams they’re high on and what teams they’re low on. A team appearing in the polls maybe doesn’t mean anything from a pure “Will this team make the NCAA tournament?” standpoint, but it can mean a lot for teams getting some national respect and recognition.

At least, that’s my philosophy.

Here’s my ballot this week. I’ve got four WCHA teams in there, including Michigan Tech at 14. They made the poll at No. 17. Anchorage dropped out after a loss and a tie at Maine.

1. Minnesota
2. Union
3. Colgate
4. North Dakota
5. Boston College
6. St. Cloud State
7. UMass-Lowell
8. Minnesota State
9. Boston University
10. Providence
11. Cornell
12. Merrimack
13. Ferris State
14. Michigan Tech
15. Alaska
16. Miami
17. Vermont
18. Michigan
19. Minnesota-Duluth
20. Robert Morris

Women also look strong despite losses

The Beaver women’s team had a similar weekend as the men, in that they lost a pair of close games to a top-five team.

Wisconsin won 2-1 Friday and 4-3 Saturday.

The Beavers are still looking for their first WCHA win after starting 4-0-0 in the nonconference.

Not to get repetitive here but obviously moral victories don’t mean anything in the standings. However, Jim Scanlan has the Beavers playing really well despite their 0-4-0 WCHA record. The first-year head coach seems to have the program on the right track and the team is looking more aggressive than we’re used to seeing from BSU teams in the past.

They will take on No. 1 Minnesota in Minneapolis this weekend. I’d like to see if the Beavers will be able to keep up with the Gophers after a good series with the Badgers.

Bemidji State notes: It’s Gopher weekend!

After an off week, Bemidji State plays what may not be the most important series on its schedule — it doesn’t mean anything in terms of conference points — but one that players and fans alike I’m sure have circled three times on their schedule. Minneaota. In Minneapolis.

The Gophers are No. 1, as you might have heard. Here’s my series preview in today’s paper.

Obviously, the Beavers have already ruined one top-five ranked team’s home opener two weeks ago against North Dakota. It would be pretty significant if they could do it again against Minnesota.

The game is on Big Ten Network tonight, which means it’s happening a bit later than normal: 8 p.m. Tomorrow’s game will be on Fox Sports North Plus and will begin at a much more reasonable 7 p.m.

Michael Bitzer is starting tonight’s game for Bemidji State. I’d wager a significant amount of money that Adam Wilcox will do the same for Minnesota. Andrew Walsh will go in Saturday’s game.

Here’s some notes fro the Gopher press:

*The Gophers are looking for some big contributions from their freshman class. Jason Gonzalez of the Star Tribune says highly-touted Swedish recruit Leon Bristedt will make his debut this weekend.

*Like BSU’s Fitzgerald triplets, Gophers have a set of brothers too. Ryan and Connor Reilly are twins while brother Mike is a year younger. The Reillys played against the Fitzgeralds in the BCHL.

*According to the Pioneer Press, the Gophers are hoping to get offense cranked up after two-week break.



Live from the Sanford Center, it’s the Bemidji State home opener!

(Imagine that in your best Don Pardo voice…. R.I.P.)

As I type this we’re about 75 minutes from BSU’s home opener against North Dakota.

As you may remember, the Beavers beat UND 5-1 last night in Grand Forks. It’s the first time since 1970 that BSU has defeated UND on North Dakota. Read my recap of tonight’s historic game here.

Which means: Bemidji State is 1-0-0 and North Dakota is 0-1-0. Not sure anyone would have predicted that before last night’s game started (heck, I had North Dakota winning).

Anyway: BSU is now 3-25-3 alltime against UND. The other two wins were Feb. 7, 1970, in Grand Forks (a 7-5 BSU win) and also a 1-0 BSU win on Nov. 20, 2011, at the Sanford Center.

Lines are below.  Lots of changes for UND, but only two for BSU: Andrew Walsh in goal, while Bemidji High School graduate Jordan Heller will play his first-ever game for the Beavers at home.

23 Markus Gerbrandt-11 Nate Arentz-18 Brendan Harms
9 Phillip Marinaccio-13 Cory Ward-8 John Parker
17 Leo Fitzgerald-21 Gerry Fitzgerald-26 Myles Fitzgerald
15 Jordan Heller-27 Mitch Cain-19 Phil Brewer
28 Brett Beauvais-4 Sam Windle
20 Sam Rendle-7 Matt Prapavessis
25 Ruslan Pedan-12 Graeme McCormack
30 Andrew Walsh
1 Michael Bitzer
33 Reid Mimmack

28 Stephane Pattyn–16 Mark MacMillan–15 Michael Parks
9 Drake Caggiula–27 Luke  Johnson-8 Nick  Schmaltz
21 Brendan O’Donnell–18 Connor Gaarder–17 Colten St.  Clair
29 Bryn Chyzyk–10 Johnny Simonson–11 Trevor Olson
6 Paul LaDue–3 Tucker Poolman
5 Nick Mattson–24 Jordan Schmaltz
20 Gage Ausmus–2 Troy Stecher
22 Andrew Panzarella (extra skater in warmpus)
31 Zane McIntyre
33 Cam Johnson

SEASON OPENER: Reading, lines, etc. for BSU/North Dakota

About to leave for Grand Forks, but before I get on U.S. Highway 2, some reading for you today.

Bemidji State is looking fort a fast start against No. 2 UND tonight. Also: Michael Bitzer, not Andrew Walsh, will be starting in goal tonight for Beavers. Maybe a bit of a shock but I had guessed Bitz, a freshman, would start one of the two. The Moorhead Spud will be thrown right into the fire for the first one, I guess.

Here’s my more general season preview, in which the general theme is the Beavers need to score.

Also interesting: The Grand Forks Herald’s Brad Schlossman went long on UND’s Dave Hakstol. A nice long feature on the coach. Worth the read.

Here’s some more notes on the game from Brad’s blog.

Also: I made my debut as a columnist on USCHO last night. Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press and I made our predictions for this week’s slate of games, which you can find here.

We also previewed the WCHA season. I wrote about Bemidji State (basically similar to what I wrote in the paper) but also about Alabama-Huntsville, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan. Read all those, if you wish, all compiled here.

Lastly, here’s Shane’s blog with his roundup of WCHA reading material. I used to do this but he did it before I did and I’m lazy and about to leave for Grand Forks so I’ll link to his today.

Anyway, BSU’s lines are on the bottom (note the Fitzgerald line!), and I’ll post UND’s when I get to the Ralph later tonight. I gotta go, catch you in Graand Forks!

23 Markus Gerbrandt-11 Nate Arentz-18 Brendan Harms
9 Phillip Marinaccio-13 Cory Ward-8 John Parker
17 Leo Fitzgerald-21 Gerry Fitzgerald-26 Myles Fitzgerald
22 Charlie O’Connor-27 Mitch Cain-19 Phil Brewer
28 Brett Beauvais-4 Sam Windle
20 Sam Rendle-7 Matt Prapavessis
25 Ruslan Pedan-12 Graeme McCormack
1 Michael Bitzer
30 Andrew Walsh


21 Brendan O’Donnell–16 Mark MacMillan–15 Michael Parks
28 Stephane Pattyn–13 Connor Gaarder–7 Wade Murphy
9 Drake Caggiula–27 Luke Johnson–8 Nick Schmaltz
29 Bryn Chyzyk–26 Coltyn Sanderson–14 Austin Poganski

6 Paul LaDue–24 Jordan Schmaltz
5 Nick Mattson–2 Troy Stecher
20 Gage Ausmus–4 Keaton Thompson

31 Zane McIntyre
33 Cam Johnson
30 Matt Hrynkiw


They Want My Poll: Media poll, USCHO poll picks from yours truly

Would you like me to show you my soul, I mean, poll?

I apologize for that terrible pun in the title but it gives me the bad excuse to post a Spoon song in this post. So what that video (the album is called “They Want My Soul”… I know, just bear with me and like my favorite band, OK?) and follow me afterwards for my media poll picks (as well as my USCHO poll pick… I’m a voter this season).

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WCHA coaches, media pick Minnesota State as No. 1

The WCHA coaches conference call is starting now. With that, both my Bemidji Pioneer preseason media poll and Shane Frederick’s Mankato Free Press coaches poll will be released

Here’s the press release for both polls. I’ll have more later, but here you go:

2014-15 Bemidji Pioneer WCHA Men’s Hockey Preseason Media Poll

Rk           Team (1st place votes)          Points
1.            Minnesota State (23)                  256
2.            Ferris State (4)                               226
3.            Bowling Green                               180
4.            Michigan Tech                                178
5.            Alaska                                                163
6.            Alaska Anchorage                         128
7.            Northern Michigan                       112
8.            Bemidji State                                  101
9.            Lake Superior State                        60
10.          Alabama Huntsville                         26

Predicted order of finish. Based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale.

Preseason WCHA Player of the Year
Matt Leitner, Sr., F, Minnesota State

Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year
Mark Friedman, D, Bowling Green

Preseason All-WCHA Team

Tyler Morley, Jr., Alaska; Jean-Paul LaFontaine, Sr., Minnesota State; Matt Leitner, Sr., Minnesota State

Colton Parayko, Jr., Alaska; Shane Hanna, So., Michigan Tech

C.J. Motte, Sr., Ferris State

Jack Hittinger, Bemidji Pioneer; Shane Frederick, Mankato Free Press; Tim O’Donnell, Fairbanks News-Miner; Jerry Taylor, ABC 10 UP sports director; Geof Morris, UAH Hockey.com; Michael Napier, UAH Hockey.com; Drew Evans, BGSU Hockey.com; Bruce Cech, Alaska Nanooks radio play-by-play; Chris Dilks, SBN College Hockey; Kevin Kurtt, Let’s Play Hockey Magazine; George Sipple, Detroit Free Press; Kurt Haider, Alaska-Anchorage radio play-by-play; Kevin Gordon, BGSU Hockey.com; Ryan Steig,Marquette Daily Mining Journal; Mike Sullivan, Minnesota State radio play by play; Greg Buckner, Big Rapids Pioneer; Scott Williams, Lakeland Sports & KBUN Bemidji; Ryan Satkowiak, Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune; Justin Bradford, Penalty Box Radio Nashville; John Wagner, Toledo Blade; Dave Danis, Northern Michigan radio play by play; Brian Halverson, Minnesota Hockey Magazine; Lee Benson, Lakeland Public TV sports director; David Tuttle, Alaska-Anchorage color commentator; Rob Roos, Sault Ste. Marie Evening News; Brandon Veale, The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton)

2014-15 Mankato Free Press WCHA Men’s Hockey Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Rk           Team (1st place votes)          Points
1.            Minnesota State (9)                       81
2.            Ferris State (1)                                  67
3.            Michigan Tech                                  64
4.            Bowling Green                                 57
5.            Alaska                                                  44
6.            Northern Michigan                         40
7.            Alaska Anchorage                           38
8.            Bemidji State                                    33
9.            Lake Superior State                        17
10.          Alabama Huntsville                           9

Predicted order of finish. Based on a 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale. Coaches could not vote for their own teams.

Preseason WCHA Player of the Year
C.J. Motte, Sr., G, Ferris State (4 votes)

Others receiving votes: Matt Leitner, Sr., F, Minnesota State (3); Jean-Paul LaFontaine, Sr., F, Minnesota State (1); Scott Allen, Sr., F, Alaska Anchorage (1), Colton Parayko, Jr. D, Alaska (1)

Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year
C.J. Franklin, F, Minnesota State and Brad McClure, F, Minnesota State (4 votes each)

Others receiving votes: Brett Beauvais, D, Bemidji State (1), Oliver Mantha, G, Alaska Anchorage (1)

Preseason All-WCHA Team

Tyler Morley, Jr., Alaska; Jean-Paul LaFontaine, Sr., Minnesota State; Matt Leitner, Sr., Minnesota State

Colton Parayko, Jr., Alaska; Zach Palmquist, Sr., Minnesota State

C.J. Motte, Sr., Ferris State

Others receiving votes: Forwards—Scott Allen, Sr., Alaska Anchorage; Blake Tatchell, Jr., Alaska Anchorage; Justin Buzzeo, Sr., Ferris State; David Johnstone, Sr., Michigan Tech; Tanner Kero, Sr., Michigan Tech; Alex Petan, Jr., Michigan Tech; Blake Pietila, Sr., Michigan Tech. Defensemen—Austin Coldwell, Sr., Alaska Anchorage; Matt Prapavessis, Sr., Bemidji State; Jason Binkley, Sr., Ferris State; Shane Hanna, So., Michigan Tech. Goaltenders—Cole Huggins, So., Minnesota State.

Grenier named women’s hockey captain

New BSU captain Kristine Grenier

Senior forward Kristine Grenier has been named the captain of the Bemidji State women’s hockey team for the 2014-15 season.

The Leon, Manitoba, native transferred from Mercyhurst last season. She tied for the team lead with eight goals last season, including three game-winners.

In addition to Grenier, senior Alex Citrowske and junior Steph Anderson were named alternate captains.

Citrowske, from Savage, played in 35 of 36 games in 2013 and tallied a career high 12 points (5g, 7a).

Anderson, a junior from North St. Paul, is also a transfer — she played for the Minnesota Gophers as a freshman. She scored five goals and three assists for BSU last season.

Seeing as how both BSU captains from last season graduated (defensemen Alex Ehlert and Allie Duellman shared co-captaincy duties), I think these three are the perfect choices.

Grenier seemed to take something of a leadership role on offense last season — playing in all 36 games for the Beavers.

The Beavers are set to start practice Saturday in advance of their first series Sept. 26-27 at Robert Morris. Last season the Colonials swept the Beavers in two games in Bemidji.


Bemidji State finally opens its home season tonight with a tilt against Sioux Falls. The teams are set to kick off at 6 p.m. in the 18th annual Shrine Game.

The Beavers (0-1) are hoping for something good after a somewhat shaky game at Wayne State in which they were statistically even on the scoreboard yet lost bu three touchdowns, 35-13.

The Cougars, on the other hand, routed Minot State 41-14 in their opener, racking up nearly 500 yards of offense (497 to be exact) and used a two-quarterback rotation to batter the Beavers.

This week BSU will have to be on the lookout for a stout Sioux Falls defense which gave up just one score — a 52-yard pass. According to Matt Zimmer of the Argus-Leader, both USF quarterbacks (Luke Papilion and Matt Young) could potentially see lots of playing time in today’s game.

The Beavers will also be looking for a more consistent game from starting quarterback Jordan Hein, who threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns last weekend but also struggled to start and end the game, throwing two interceptions.

Read my preview story for today’s game here.

Below, here are the projected No. 1 players for today’s game. Interestingly: The Beavers don’t have tight end listed on the depth chart this week. Weather that means they won’t be using one or not remains to be seen, but instead they’ve opted to list for WRs instead of three WRs and a TE. Might not mean much, but it’s still intriguing.

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From the other side: Matt Zimmer on Sioux Falls football

The Beavers will host Sioux Falls Saturday in their home opener under the lights at Chet Anderson Stadium.

I’m excited, because I actually have something to cover. (It was a long summer.)

Anyway, to preview said game on the blog I’m going to do something new.

Matt Zimmer, who is in the running for the No. 1 Replacements fan I know, also happens to cover Sioux Falls and Augustana for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

He suggested exchanging Q&A’s with me in advance of this week’s game, and that sounded like a great idea. So I sent him five questions, his answers to which you can find below. I also answered five of his questions, which are up on his blog. I inadvertently wrote a new translation of War and Peace for each question so fair warning. But they’re over there if you’re interested.

So anyway, look after the jump for his answers to my questions. I’ll try and be back here Saturday to post projected starters and other tidbits that don’t make my preview story.

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BEAVER GAMEDAY 2014: BSU at Wayne State

My apologies that this is late. I planned on having this up early this morning but life got in the way.

The Beavers kick off in Wayne, Neb. (or Wayne, America, as the town’s Wikipedia page puts it…) in 20 minutes.

Here’s my preview of today’s game in the paper. A previously reported, Jordan Hein will start at quarterback.

Below, you’ll find the projected starters for both teams plus some Wayne State-related links.

Find the game on the radio at 92.1 The River in Bemidji or streaming on Beaver Radio Network. There’s also a video stream available here.

Depth Charts
Bemidji State
Pos, Name, Ht., Wt., Yr
LT Matt Valentine (6-4, 305, So)
LG Brandon Schindler (6-5, 303, Fr)
C Jesse Hein (6-0, 302, So)
RG Ben Johnson (6-1, 314, So)
RT Dustin Dowd (6-3, 310, Sr)
QB Jordan Hein (6-1, 201, TR-Fr)
WR Blake Holder (6-2, 198, RS-Fr)
WR Brady Schmidt (5-9, 182, So)
WR AJ Washington (5-7, 180, Sr)
WR Jordan Noskowiak (6-3, 216, Jr)
RB Tony Peterson (5-11, 192, Jr)
FB Evan Olson (5-10, 230, Sr)
TE Tucker Forsgren (6-4, 255, RS-Fr)
Pos, Name, Ht., Wt., Yr
DE JJ Reinke (6-5, 275, Sr)
NT Chris Ostby (6-4, 295, Jr)
DE Dan Kiebler (6-2, 265, Sr)
OLB Connor Quinn (6-1, 235, Jr)
ILB Justin Gedaly (6-0, 210, RS-Fr)
ILB Colton Blasyk (6-0, 218, RS-Fr)
OLB Greg Button (6-2, 216, Jr)
CB Evan Tompkins (6-0, 185, RS-Fr)
S Dylan Valentine (5-10, 195, Sr)
S Scott Christensen (5-11, 205, Sr)
CB Troy Beckett (5-11, 195, So)
Special Teams
K Kyle Fodness (5-10, 180, TR-So)
H Ryan Shields (6-1, 181, So)
P Chais Wakefield (5-10, 175, Sr)
LS Nick Daniello (6-1, 198, Fr)
KR Brady Schmidt
KR Ralph Biah (6-8, 175, Jr)
PR Kameel Al-Khouri (5-11, 195, So)

Wayne State
LT Shane Finley, 6-5, 280, So.
LG Ryan Porter, 6-2, 275, So.
C Austin Heesacker, 6-3, 275, Sr.
RG Taylor Jensen, 6-3, 285, Jr.
RT Wyatt Schuettler, 6-6, 275, Jr.
WR 4 Adam Stark, 6-1, 190, Sr.
WR 19 Cole McDaniel, 6-4, 210, Sr.
FB Chad Koch, 6-0, 230, Sr.
RB Rashad Trimble, 6-0, 215, So.
QB Zach Osborn, 6-1, 195, So.
TE Joe Trouba, 6-6, 250, Sr.
DE Jeff Van Den Top, 6-6, 255, Sr.
DT Shawn Barker, 5-10, 295, Jr.
DE Abram Walker, 6-3, 265, Sr.
OLB Zach Bierman, 6-3, 195, Jr.
MLB Nick Monzu, 6-0, 210, Sr.
MLB Tyson McGill, 6-0, 230, Sr.
OLB Nate Scott, 6-3, 205, Jr.
CB J’Ron Erby, 6-0, 190, Sr.
SS Chase Samuel, 6-0, 190, Sr.
FS Payton Doramus, 6-3, 205, Jr.
CB Jon Davis, 6-0, 180, Jr.
Special Teams
K Tyler Lindsay, 5-11, 165, So.
H Nick Roth, 6-0, 190, So.
P Colton Hough, 6-0, 215, Fr.
LS Colby Dostal, 5-10, 215, Jr.
KR/PR Tyri Bethea, 6-0, 185, R-Fr.
KR/PR Jonathan Parks, 6-1, 180, Jr.
Snapper Tony Gbogbo, 6-2, 295, So.

Previewing the Wildcats: