Note Dame to B1G. More realignment coming?

You’ve undoubtedly heard by now: Notre Dame is leaving Hockey East for the Big Ten (in hockey only, in 2017-18).

As most things do in the college hockey community, this announcement made the Internet go crazy for about 12 hours last night.

It’s a move that makes perfect sense, competitively, geographically and financially, for two of the three parties (although Hockey East seems a bit bummed out by the whole thing judging from their commissioner’s non-statement statement today).

This move, in of itself, doesn’t appear to affect either Bemidji State or the WCHA — yet.

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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.

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.

It’s schedule release day!

Not quite the “most wonderful time of the year” but it’s certainly “the most wonderful time of May for a beatwriter who needs content”: It’s schedule release day!

This season the WCHA decided to roll out all their schedules — men’s and women’s — at the same time. Not a bad marketing idea.

While we knew much of BSU’s men’s schedule — the nonconference games, for the most part, have been out there for a while — the women’s schedule was still a toss-up.

Well, no more: We have full slates for both teams right now.

The women released their schedule first and it starts Sept. 25-26 at home against Robert Morris. They only have theee nonconference series on the schedule: Bobby Mo, at Vermont and home against Lindenwood.

Interestingly, the women also get a home and home with North Dakota Oct. 16-17 and Dec. 4-5. That first one is the same days as the men’s series against North Dakota, which is a great opportunity for a rivalry doubleheader for both teams. That one should be a lot of fun.

The men have three nonconference series, too — home-and-homes with Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota the first two weekends of the season, as well as a home series against Division I newcomer Arizona State Jan. 16-17.

The Beavers will also be back at the North Star College Cup to defend their title. That one is set for Jan. 29-30.

As for the conference schedule, the Beavers are going to Alaska twice this season, but they’re doing it back-to-back so they’ll be up there for a week.

BSU plays two series each with Minnesota State, Alabama Huntsville, Alaska, Ferris State and Lake Superior State.

The Beavers won’t have to travel to Michigan Tech or Bowling Green this year but they also don’t host either Northern Michigan or Alaska Anchorage.

Find the full women’s schedule here and the full men’s slate here. I’ll have a full story in tomorrow’s paper with some reactions.


It’s Huntsville week! And other post-vacation observations

I’ve returned from my New Years’ vacation to Texas, where the 45 degree weather meant Houstonians were bundled up in parkas (not joking) while I spent much of the week either sick (got an ear infection on Dec. 31!) or walking around in shorts and flip flops while Texans gave me weird looks.

Incidentally, that’s probably the same thing that happens anytime a Northerner goes to Huntsville from December to March.

The Beavers don’t get to bask in the glow of Southern warmth this weekend, however: Instead, the Chargers are coming up here riding a three-game unbeaten streak.

That’s right. UAH, fresh of its first-ever WCHA sweep, also tied No. 13 Nebraska Omaha before Christmas.

The sweep, according to, is the Chargers’ first legit two-game sweep of a D-I team since January 2010 against Niagara.

And don’t look now, but the Chargers are just one point behind the Beavers in the WCHA standings.

So this is a big series for both teams. Certainly the most important of this rivalry since the CHA days.

You can believe I’ll have much more on this series in the coming week. Just putting a seed in your mind, in case you needed reminding: It’s Huntsville week.

My USCHO ballot

I’ve been neglecting to do this the past few weeks, but because people are interested, here’s my USCHO ballot.

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve voted. I kept Boston U at No. 1 because I saw no real reason to drop them. Mankato is holidng steady at No. 2, Harvard No. 3 and North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth round out the top 5.

MSU was my top team after the break but I believe the tie to Northern Michigan caused me to drop them a slot.

At least for my, the 20 teams in the ballot have been pretty consistent for the past few weeks. Mostly I’ve just been rearranging the order. Maybe that will change this week depending on what teams like Yale, Dartmouth and Michigan do. But for now, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

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

WEEKEND RECAP: Sweet sweep (and near-sweep) for Beavers

To call it “a pretty solid weekend” for the Bemidji State men’s and women’s hockey teams would be an understatement.

The Beaver men’s team swept away Alaska with a big 6-1 win on Friday and a thrilling 4-3 overtime win on Saturday.

The women’s team, meanwhile, scored a historic pair of games over No. 1 Minnesota at Ridder Arena. The Beavers officially tied the Gophers 2-2 on Friday but won the shootout to earn the two points. Then on Saturday the Beavers won 1-0, marking BSU’s first win over the Gophers since 2011. It added up to a 5-point weekend for BSU.

Sophomore Brittni Mowat was the hero for the Beavers women, making 83 saves on the weekend, including 36 Saturday.

Also notable: Former Gopher Stephanie Anderson scored the game-winner in the shootout Friday, a nice moment for her.

The Beaver women get a bye week before hosting No. 10 North Dakota next weekend. A pair of wins over UND and BSU should find itself back in the top 10.

The Beaver men, meanwhile, head to Mankato for a date with the No. 13 Mavericks.

BSU has played well in all six of its games despite their 3-3 record; however, this weekend’s series against a strong Alaska team (who came into the weekend ranked No. 16) was a bit of a culmination of the progress they’ve made after routing North Dakota 5-1 in the first game.

BSU’s top line of Nate Arentz, Markus Gerbrandt and Brendan Harms all have three goals apiece while fourth-liner Charlie O’Connor, who had two goals in all of last year, also has three.

Arentz was most certainly BSU’s best player last weekend, and was named WCHA offensive player of the week for his efforts. He went off for three goals, two assists, two blocked shots and a plus-six rating against the Nanooks.

Right now I’d put his line against any in the WCHA. They’ve looked that good.

But that’s not all BSU is doing offensively.

The triplet line (of Myles, Gerry and Leo Fitzgerald) have stepped up and played well as freshmen (Myles has two goals already) and the fourth line, with O’Connor, Mitch Cain and Phil Brewer have also added a nice offensive punch to their already fast, physical game.

Defenseman Matt Prapavessis has two goals and two assists and at times looks like a forward with his scoring touch while still being a good defensive presence for BSU.

Really the only line that hasn’t made a huge contribution as far as points scored is Cory Ward’s line. Ward scored the game-winner Saturday, but only has two goals and no assists this season. Winger John Parker doesn’t have any points, while Phil Marinaccio has a goal and two assists.

Obviously it’s still early and Ward (as well as Parker and Marinaccio) has a good track record. If that line can get heated up and start scoring? Watch out.

Polling place

Four WCHA men’s teams are ranked in this week’s USCHO poll, the highest of them being Michigan Tech at No. 9. The Huskies are 6-0-0 following a sweep of Michigan. Also ranked are MSU (No. 13), Ferris State (No. 16) and Northern Michigan (No. 20 and making its debut in the poll). Alaska dropped out, as did Alaska Anchorage, but Bowling Green is on the cusp of the rankings and BSU got some votes.

Here’s the full rankings, with Minnesota still at No. 1

And here’s my ballot, for what it’s worth. I have five WCHA teams in there — no Bemidji State yet, but if they can play well and score a win or two against Minnesota State this weekend I think they’ll deserve a vote.

Also: I like Colgate more than North Dakota. The ‘Gate lost twice — once to a very good St. Cloud State team (who beat the Gophers) and also to an underrated Mercyhurst squad this weekend. (Speaking of the ‘Hurst — I voted for them this week. I realize they have the same record as BSU at 3-3 but they’ve split series with Colgate, Merrimack and Air Force. So maybe I was swayed by that win at Colgate. Regardless, I think they’re a good team.)

1. Minnesota
2. Colgate
3. North Dakota
4. UMass Lowell
5. Boston College
6. St. Cloud State
7. Boston University
8. Minnesota State
9. Vermont
10. Michigan Tech
11. Notre Dame
12. Miami
13. Denver
14. Providence
15. Ferris State
16. Bowling Green
17. Minnesota Duluth
18. Mercyhurst
19. Merrimack
20. Nebraska Omaha

Women’s roster released; expanded replay criteria approved for 2014-15 season

Just a quick FYI: The BSU women’s team has posted its roster for the 2014-15 season already.

Looks like the only significant losses were the six graduating seniors. Also not on the roster this season is D Kenzie Menzak. Menzak, who transferred to BSU from Plattsburgh State, only appeared in two games last season.

As for the newcomers, there are seven freshman joining the program this year: D Riley Fawcett (Proctor); F Ciscely Nelson (Roseau); D Emma Terres (New Hope); D Alexis Joyce (Lakeville); F Summer Thibodeau (Maple Grove); D Alewx Bond (Barrie, Ont.) and G Hannah Paulson (Maple Grove).

That almost exactly replaces positions the Beavers needed with the departures they had last season (two forwards, a goalie and a bunch of defenseman).

Former head coach Steve Sertich knew what he needed to replace and it looks like he did a good job bringing in a bunch of instate talent. I don’t think new head coach Jim Scanlan will be bringing in anyone knew at this late date but there may be one or two uncommitted players out there that could walk on and add to the roster.

News NCAA rules approved

Nothing major, but the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a few changes Friday, especially to the way replays are handled in men’s and women’s college hockey.

Basically, there are a few more scenarios where officials can review goals:

-Refs can review a goal to see if it was scored before a penalty

-A scoring play can be reviewed if an offside or too many men penalty is missed to see when the puck was in the offensive zone

-The NCAA also clarified that video for replays can come from anywhere. Before the video was required to come from the TV broadcast.

The rest of the rules are somewhat dull (like the size of goal pegs and penalty shot and faceoff procedure).

Also, there’s an experimental rule for women’s hockey only which allows the puck to be played legally with a high stick.

BSU releases 2014-15 men’s hockey schedule

Turns out if I’d have waited a day the Bemidji State hockey schedule would’ve been out already. Here’s the link to the full schedule via BSU. Here’s the press release. I’ll have the full schedule below.

As I had suspected, the Beavers do indeed take on St. Cloud State and Minnesota in nonconference action.

And if you look at the schedule, things are going to be very difficult right away for BSU.

The season opens with a home and home against UND followed by a week off then a series at Mariucci Arena. Then they’ll return home to face Alaska fairbanks before traveling to Minnesota State Mankato.

They’ll host St. Cloud State Nov. 28-29.

So to recap: The Beavers play three nonconference series and one nonconference trournament (North Star Cup).

Three of their nonconference foes (UND, Minnesota, St. Cloud) went to the NCAA tournament and obviously two went to the Frozen Four.

BSU also has at least four games against Minnesota State and two against Ferris.

They’ll also play either Mankato or Minnesota again in the championship game or the third place game of the North Star Cup.

In all that’s 13 games against 2013-14 tournament teams. That’s about the same as last season.

I’d guess the Beavers are once again going to have among the toughest schedules in the nation when all is said and done.

Anyway, the full schedule is below. You ready for October yet?

Oct. 10-11: at North Dakota, vs. NORTH DAKOTA (Home and Home)
Oct. 17-18: OPEN
Oct. 24-25: at Minnesota
Nov. 7-8: at Minnesota State*
Nov. 14-15: MICHIGAN TECH*
Nov. 21-22: at Bowling Green*
Nov. 28-29: ST. CLOUD STATE
Dec. 5-6: at Alaska Anchorage*
Jan. 17-18: at Lake Superior State*
Jan. 23: vs. Minnesota Duluth (North Star College Cup, St. Paul)
Jan. 24: vs. Mankato/Minnesota (North Star College Cup, St. Paul)
Jan. 30-31: BOWLING GREEN*
Feb. 6-7: at Michigan Tech (Winter Carnival)*
Feb. 13-14: at Northern Michigan*
Feb. 27-28: at Ferris State*
March 13-15: WCHA first round
March 20-21: WCHA Final Five (St. Paul)
*denotes WCHA conference game

Piecing together the 2014-15 schedule

Apologies for the lack of updates but there hasn’t been much news on the college hockey front, especially related to Bemidji State.

Yes, the WCHA hired both a men’s commissioner and a women’s commissioner but there hasn’t been much news specifically related to the Beavers.

The BSU women have yet to announce a new head coach; and neither team has released their schedule yet.

Despite not having a full official schedule a few WCHA (and nonconference) teams have put out their 2014-15 scheduled so I can, at least somewhat confidently, at least give a visual on what part of BSU’s schedule will look like next season.

Five of the 10 WCHA schools have released their schedules (Fairbanks, Anchorage, Ferris, Tech and Huntsville) as has one nonconference opponent (Duluth). North Dakota hasn’t released theirs officially yet (save nonconference) but Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported that BSU and North Dakota will play a home and home to kick off the season next year.

Anyway, here’s all we know:

Oct. 10-11: at North Dakota, vs. NORTH DAKOTA (Home and Home)
Oct. 17-18: ???
Oct. 24-25: ???
Nov. 7-8: ???
Nov. 14-15: MICHIGAN TECH*
Nov. 21-22: ???
Nov. 28-29: ???
Dec. 5-6: at Alaska Anchorage*
Dec. 12-13: ??
Dec. 19-20: ??
Dec. 26-27: Guessing this will be Christmas Break.
Jan. 2-3: ??
Jan. 17-18: ??
Jan. 23: vs. Minnesota Duluth (North Star College Cup, St. Paul)
Jan. 24: vs. Mankato/Minnesota (North Star College Cup, St. Paul)
Jan. 30-31: ??
Feb. 6-7: at Michigan Tech (Winter Carnival)*
Feb. 13-14: ??
Feb. 27-28: at Ferris State*

I’m fairly certain the Beavers will also be traveling to play the Gophers again this year and hosting St. Cloud State but I haven’t confirmed either of those series and don’t know exactly when they’re going to play.

As for the series that haven’t been announced, we know they’ll play Mankato four times and will also play both Northern Michigan and Bowling Green four times (since they only saw those teams for a single series each last season).  I believe they will also face Lake Superior just twice this season, i.e., one road series.

I’m pretty sure that gets the Beavers to 36, which is the mac number of games allowed with the one Alaska trip (I think they’d get 38 games if they made two Alaska trips).

Essentially it looks like exactly the same schedule in terms of opponents this season, only minus Miami and plus Duluth in the first round of the North Star Cup. It would have been nice to see some different teams in the mix for once (maybe somebody from the East Coast) but in all it once again looks like the Beavers have one of the nation’s tougher schedules.

WEEKEND RECAP: BSU scores four against St. Cloud; WCHA has rough showing in first full weekend; Shootouts are fun?

I’ll have more on this later in the week, but even though the Beavers didn’t pick up a win against St. Cloud State, BSU was happy with their performance against a Huskies team that many expected to roll them before the games last week.

The Beavers scored two goals in each game. Unfortunately for the Beavers, as BSU head coach Tom Serratore said during the weekly press conference Tuesday, “The first to three usually wins.” It was, really, much the same kind of series BSU played last season: Both the one-goal loss on Friday and the tie on Saturday after having a two goal lead. Both of those occurrences happened often last season.

“Offense right now is a work in progress for us, no question,” Serratore said. “But it was nice getting four goals. If we’d have chipped in a power play goal, we might have won one of those games.”

The Beavers rallied from a 2-0 deficit Friday night only to see the Huskies score a shorthanded goal that turned out to be the game-winner a 3-2 win; in that game the Beavers went 0-for-2 on the power play. Highlights here.

Saturday night, BSU had four chances on the power play and couldn’t convert. They settled for a 2-2 tie. See highlights here.

Conversely, SCSU scored a power play goal and a shorty Friday and another power play goal Saturday.

BSU had goals from sophomores Markus Gerbrandt and Cory Ward on Friday and tallies from sophomore Phil Brewer and freshman Nate Arentz Saturday. If you’re scoring at home, that’s three goals from the third line and one from the top line. If the Beavers want to score more goals they’ll need more production from that top line as well as some help from the second line — which has freshmen Brenden Harms and Phil Marinaccio playing with senior Jeff Jubinville. There will be a bit of a learning curve there, to be sure, so it will take some time.

But the Beavers, I think, are happy with how the offense played after just one weekend despite the “work in progress” tag.

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