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 USCHO.com 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, SooToday.com; Dave Danis, Northern Michigan radio play-by-play; Chris Dilks, SB Nation College Hockey; Erik Drygas, Alaska radio color commentary; Drew Evans, BGSUHockey.com; Shane Frederick, Mankato Free Press; Patten Fuqua Penalty Box Radio (102.5 FM Nashville); Kevin Gordon, BGSUHockey.com; Jack Hittinger, The Bemidji Pioneer; Daver Karnosky, Houghton Daily Mining Gazette; Kevin Kurtt, Let’s Play Hockey Magazine; Geof Morris, UAHHockey.com; Michael Napier, UAHHockey.com; 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.


March Madness for Bemidji hockey teams

Hey there, I’l still alive.

Lots has happened since the last update (BSU won the North Star College Cup), but here’s the simple update:

-The Beaver men’s team hosts Minnesota State this weekend in their regular season finale. Lots is on the line for both teams: Fore the Beavers, it’s a home ice slot. For the Mavericks, it’s the MacNaughton Cup.

BSU is one point up on Northern Michigan for fourth place. There are a bunch of scenarios that will clinch home ice for the Beavers, but the simplest one is win twice and clinch. (BSU could also win Friday and have Northern lose Friday and clinch that way).

For Mankato, they’re three points up on Michigan Tech for first place. Just a single point wins it for them.

Sounds simple, right? (Ha!)

Look for more on this later this week.

-Also this weekend: The Beaver women’s team is still alive.

BSU beat Minnesota Duluth in their best-of-three playoff series — including a thrilling come-from-behind overtime winner on Sunday — to advance to the WCHA Final Faceoff for the first time since 2010.

They get to play Minnesota, a team they’ve played very well against, in their semifinal game.

I’ll have more on this soon, too. But in the meantime, watch video of Kaitlyn Tougas’ overtime winner here.

-Finally (but not least): Bemidji High School is going back to state for the first time since 1986. (That’s four months before I was born, in case you were wondering.) We’ll have complete coverage of that from the X so be sure to pick up the paper tomorrow for a special story.


Beavers slowly gaining steam in the polls. Guess that’s what happens when you’re over .500 for the first time since Oct. 10. I had them as No. 17 in my poll. Maybe high, but few teams are as hot as the Beavers are right now. They got 19 total votes so I’m not the only one to think so. Here’s the poll, below are my choices.

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

CHRISTMAS THOUGHTS: Where the Beaver men, women team are at midseason

It’s almost Christmas. Just to get this out of the way, here’s my favorite Christmas song ever (no joke).

OK, now that you know that, let’s get to the task at hand: As the New Year approaches, the Bemidji State men’s and women’s teams are trending in (slightly) different directions.

The men are on a five-game unbeaten streak, while the women are suffering a three-game losing skid.

I realize that I already ran a column on the men’s team last week, but it’s Christmas so I thought I would re-hash it a little more.

The Beaver men have rebounded nicely from their seven-game November losing streak and go into the break in seventh place. That might not look like much, and having only nine points doesn’t look super-impressive, but they’re just three points out of fourth place and home-ice advantage. Northern Michigan and Ferris State are tied for fourth at the moment.

The men have been scoring at a better clip lately than they did at the beginning of the season, but they’re without sophomore Brendan Harms, who was injured against Alaska Anchorage on Dec. 6.

The Beavers will hope he’s back later in January, but they have some solid offense contributors to step up in his stead. Sophomores Nate Arentz (7 goals, 7 assists) and Charlie O’Connor (6 goals, one assist) have stepped up in their second BSU seasons while the Fitzgerald triplets are finally starting to show why they were such heralded recruits.

BSU returns Jan. 9-10 against Alabama Huntsville and then goes to Lake Superior State the best weekend. If the Beavers can clean up against the bottom half of the league they should shoot up the schedule pretty quickly. Their late-season slate favors them, so home ice advantage for the playoffs is a possibility.

The women, meanwhile, are in a slight rut after starting off the season so well. They’re 11-8-1 overall and 7-81 in the conference. Recently they were swept by Ohio State — the fourth loss to the Buckeyes this season.

BSU was previously in fourth place in the conference but have been leapfrogged by the Buckeyes and now sit one point out of fourth (and two out of third).

The Beavers, though, have proved they can beat the conference’s elite teams and after traveling to Lindenwood Jan. 2-3 they will head to Minnesota Duluth. A good showing against the Bulldogs will but the Beavers right back into playoff contention with two months left in the season.

Whatever happens down the stretch — and the Beavers certainly have the talent to reclaim home ice — BSU certainly isn’t a team anyone is going to want to see in the league playoffs. I’m not sure they’re going to have enough to make the NCAA tournament without an automatic bid bit don’t count them out in winning the WCHA tournament, either.

We’ll know a whole lot more after this month. The Beavers are on the road until the beginning of February. If they can stay steady they should be in great position going into the playoffs.

Anderson at Team USA camp

I’ll have a feature on this in the Dec. 26 paper, but BSU forward Stephanie Anderson is getting the opportunity to participate in the USA Women’s Hockey Winter Camp this weekend in Blaine.

Anderson played on the U-18 team previously so she has experienced playing for her country (she won the silver at the U-18 tournament in 2009).

She’s the fourth Beaver player to get a chance to try out for the national team, and the first since 2011.

Anyway, look for the story on Thursday. I’ll be the first to give you an update if she makes the team.


BEAVERS GAMEDAY: Game 17, BSU vs. Northern Michigan

Bemidji State is back home for the final two games of the season before the holiday break. They’re welcoming the Northern Michigan Wildcats, who are normally stout on defense behind goaltender Mathias Dahlström but last weekend gave up 10 goals against Bowling Green.

Here’s my preview of tonight’s game, as seen in today’s Pioneer. I focused on the Beavers’ special teams, which came on strong last weekend.

Also, if you’re interested, here are my WCHA picks on USCHO.com. I picked a BSU/NMU split but as always I’ll probably be wrong.

I also wrote another feature on Michigan Tech and Minnesota Duluth, who are playing a huge series in Houghton this weekend. So if you’re interested, that’s here.

Thirdly: the No. 9 BSU women’s team is on the road in St. Cloud. It’s their first time away from Bemidji in more than a month and their first time on Olympic ice this season, but the Beavers think the Olympic ice will benefit them due to their improved team speed this year.

Finally, I haven’t seen lines yet but I will share those with you when I get to the Sanford Center. I do know one thing: Forward Brendan Harms will be out at least four weeks with an upper body injury. He’s tied for the team’s scoring lead with Nate Arentz. It’s a tough blow for the Beavers, who are losing a good playmaker. But luckily for them he’ll have the holiday break to recover a bit and not miss too many games.

BSU coach Tom Serratore said freshman Kyle Bauman will take his place in the lineup. Bauman has played well so far so it may be a good opportunity to showcase more of his talents on BSU’s top line.

Check back later for lines. Puck drops at 7:37 p.m.

EDIT: So, this is odd. Dahlström isn’t playing.  He’s not even listed on the line chart for the ‘Cats. Not sure what to make of this, but it certainly changes things.

For Bemidji State, Michael Bitzer will make his normal Friday start after Andrew Walsh started both games in Anchorage.

Bauman is indeed on the top line, with Cory Ward and Markus Gerbrandt.


Markus Gerbrandt – Cory Ward – Kyle Bauman
Phillip Marinaccio – Nate Arentz – John Parker
Leo Fitzgerald – Gerry Fitzgerald – Myles Fitzgerald
Charlie O’Connor – Mitch Cain – Phil Brewer
Sam Rendle – Sam Windle
Brett Beauvais – Matt Prapavessis
Ruslan Pedan – Graeme McCormack
Michael Bitzer
Andrew Walsh
Reid Mimmack

Reed Seckel – Shane Sooth – Dominik Shine
Robbie Payne – Darren Nowick – Gerard Hanson
Cohen Adair – Casey Purpur – Joseph Manno
John Siemer – Zach Diamantoni – Sami Salminen
Jake Baker – Ryan Kesti
Mitch Jones – Brock Maschmeyer
Jordan Klimek – Ryan Trenz
Michael Doan
Derek Dun


WEEKEND RECAP: Women make the top 10, men swept by another top 10 team

Apologies for the two-week blog hiatus. Reports of my demise (and that of the Beaver Blog) have been greatly exaggerated.

Also false: Reports of the BSU women’s hockey team’s demise.

For the first time since 2012, the Bemidji State women’s hockey team is ranked in the top 10. In the latest USCHO.com poll, the Beavers are No. 9 — ahead of Minnesota-Duluth.

It’s a well-deserved ranking after the Beavers won their third straight (or fourth straight, if you think shootouts count as points) this weekend with a sweep of North Dakota. The Beavers won 4-1 on Friday in a game that didn’t even seem as close as that score indicated, then pulled out a 2-1 victory Saturday to finish off their first sweep of North Dakota since 2007.

It seems like the Beavers are finality on the upswing after going 4-0 to start the season in nonconference play then 0-4 in their first four WCHA games.

However, a tie and a win against Minnesota (5 points with the shootout win) seemed to give BSU some much-needed momentum. After a week off the Beavers came back with tons of energy against UND and didn’t look like a team that had had the previous week off.

Also of note: All six of BSU’s scoring leaders are members of the junior class, which bodes well not just for this season but for next. Kaitlyn Tougas leads the BSU in points with nine while Ivana Bilic has seven. Stephanie Anderson has a team-high four goals.

The team is now 7-4-1 going into yet another bye week (an odd schedule quirk has seen the Beavers have three off weekends already in their first two months). Then, they’ll host Minnesota-Duluth Nov. 28-29. BSU last beat UMD Nov. 23, 2013, in Duluth but have never swept the Bulldogs. It’s a daunting task, but with this BSU team, it seems like “never” is not a word in their vocabulary.

Men swept by another top 10 team

Conversely this weekend at the Sanford Center, the Beaver men’s team once again found itself playing a top 10 team (Michigan Tech, now No. 1 in the country, then No. 5). For the second straight weekend (and third weekend overall this season), the Beavers were swept by a top 10-team. The weekend before, BSU was swept by Minnesota State. The Beavers have also been swept by Minnesota.

It must be frustrating for Tom Serratore’s crew: Tech won 2-1 Friday and 4-2 Saturday but the Beavers outplayed the Huskies in both games. BSU, now 3-7-0, seems to be just on the cusp of greatness but have struggled to put teams away where it counts (namely, special teams).

It’s BSU’s fourth loss in a row. Another ranked team — No. 19 Bowling Green — looms this weekend. It will be another difficult test (BSU’s gotta have one of the toughest schedules in the country) but it’s getting to the point in the season where it’s not early anymore. If the Beavers are going to start making statements as a contender in the WCHA, they need to start now.

Leaders of the Pack

The Michigan Tech Huskies might as well buy some motorcycles and impress the ladies, because for the first time in their 94-year hockey history they are 10-0 and the No. 1 team in the country.

In the USCHO poll (of which I am a voter), the Huskies leaped over North Dakota, Boston U, Minnesota and U-Mass Lowell to claim the top spot. The Gophers were No. 1 before being swept by Minnesota-Duluth in a home-and-home this weekend. UND and Lowell both split their series this weekend while BU played just one game.

Meanwhile the Huskies are the nation’s only undefeated team.

Naysayers (the “WCHA is dead” crowd, of which there are too many) will likely argue that Tech’s strength of schedule is weaker than said teams, but the point is moot (especially since the Huskies are No. 1 in the pairwise) — 10-0-0 is impressive no matter who you’re playing.

Accordingly, they impressed me enough to get my No. 1 vote. I’ve been rolling with the Gophers all season, but the Huskies looked impressive even in a pair of games that, statistically, they should have lost this weekend. It doesn’t hurt that goaltender Jamie Phillips looked, to me, like a legit Hobey Baker candidate this weekend.

In many ways, this year’s Huskies remind me a lot of last season’s Ferris State team: A deep, experienced squad that’s not overly skilled but has an outstanding goalie and finds ways to win.

The Huskies have to lose some day (it could come this weekend, against Minnesota State — which will be a heck of a matchup in Houghton) but right now this roll they’re on is impressive. That’s why they got my (and many other writers’) vote.

Here’s my full ballot for this week. North Dakota doesn’t impress me as much as other writers (they’re No. 2 this week) but my perception may be colored by seeing them get smacked by BSU on opening weekend. I still think the Gophers are a better team than UND.

Anyhow, my entire ballot is as follows:

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

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

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.

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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