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!

BEMIDJI STATE LINES
FORWARDS
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
DEFENSE
28 Brett Beauvais-4 Sam Windle
20 Sam Rendle-7 Matt Prapavessis
25 Ruslan Pedan-12 Graeme McCormack
GOALTENDERS
1 Michael Bitzer
30 Andrew Walsh

NORTH DAKOTA LINES

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).

Continue reading

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

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

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

Goaltender
C.J. Motte, Sr., Ferris State

Participants
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

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

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

Goaltender
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.

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.

Random July updates

Just realized it’s been almost a month since I last posted… I haven’t been great about maintaining this during the summer.

Since then, the NHL Draft came and went without any BSU players being selected, both new WCHA commissioners were in town and current BSU forward Brendan Harms was invited to participate in the Jets’s prospect development camp.

There hasn’t been a whole lot else happening in the world of BSU hockey, although the annual Galen Nagle Memorial Golf Tournament is set for Friday.  I don’t golf, but it’s a good time for me to get to hobknob with BSU hockey alumni and fans about what’s going on in the Beaver hockey universe. So look for a story on that on Saturday.

I’ve also been trying to keep track of some of the recent former Beavers and where they’ll be playing pro next season. Most recently I got word that former BSU defenseman Jake Areshenko had re-signed with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL for next season.

Another former Beaver, Brandon Marino, will be leaving the ECHL to play in Europe for the upcoming season. Marino led the ECHL in scoring last season with 88 points for the Fort Wyane Kmoets but this year he’ll be headed to Hungary’s Székesfehérvár (don’t ask me how to pronounce it), which plays in the Austrian league.

As for the AHL: I know Brad Hunt will be back with Oklahoma City next season. Radoslav Illo played for Norfolk after signing an ATO with the organization last season but I don’t know if he’ll be back there next season.

In the next couple days I plan on talking with new BSU head women’s coach Jim Scanlan now that he’s been on the job for a few weeks.

I’m also going to do a roster breakdown of both the men and the women’s teams (this provided the men’s roster is posted soon).

Also: BSU football reports back to camp Aug. 13. That’s still more than a month, but you should probably know. If you’ve read this far, you’ll have some inside knowledge.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY: Scanlan looks like a slam-dunk

I didn’t have time to update the blog more yesterday but a day after Bemidji State named Jim Scanlan the fifth women’s hockey coach in the program’s history, I have a little more time to talk about the hire.

In short: I kind of thought this was a no-brainer for BSU.

I know many in the college hockey world — at least, those outside of Bemidji — were thinking that former Minnesota State men’s coach and current Nebraska-Omaha assistant Troy Jutting was the clubhouse leader. That makes sense, considering he has name recognition and has friends on the BSU coaching staff.

By all accounts, Jutting would have been a great coach (and also a great quote).

But I don’t know if he was a great fit for the Beaver women’s team.

Yeah, he was a name that might have filled seats at the Sanford Center, but he’d never coached women or girls hockey at any level and his connections to BSU were negligible.

That’s why I think Scanlan was the best choice for the job.

Assistant coach Amber Fryklund — also a finalist for the job — also would have been a good choice, but it seems like Scanlan’s connections were very important.

As I mentioned in my story in today’s paper, Scanlan seemed to know everyone in the room at Tuesday’s press conference (which was fairly crowded for a press conference at 3 p.m. on a nice day outside).

And if he didn’t know them, he seemed to know of them.

Obviously knowing people isn’t everything in coaching — the actual, you know, coaching, is the primary concern, or it should be.

But don’t count out the fact that Scanlan is very familiar with Bemidji, and the Minnesota girls college hockey scene in general, when it comes time to recruit players to play for the Beavers.

BSU still has trouble getting the top, top recruits from the girls prep hockey ranks — it seems that Minnesota, Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota scoop them up pretty quickly.

Scanlan seems like the kind of guy who will be able to sell potential recruits on Bemidji right away, just because he’s so personable and genuine. He obviously has a passion for hockey, for BSU and for Bemidji and I think it shouldn’t be a problem for him to convince recruits that Bemidji is the place for them.

He talked about that during his press conference:

“We all know what a special place this is,” he said. “It’s our job to bring the girls up and show them what a place this can be. But obviously being successful certainly helps. When girls come here on a recruiting trip and see a team that believes in themselves and believes in each other, I think athletes want ton be part of something special. If we can create that culture here it’s going to be easier to bring top-flight girls here.”

The Beavers were much more competitive this past season (11-21-4 overall 8-17-3 WCHA) than they were in 2012-13 (when they finished 6-26-2 overall). But BSU hasn never finished above .500 in the 17-year history of the program; and the best finish was a 17-17-3 record in 2011-12. Even that year the team failed to finish in the top-half of the ultra-competitive WCHA.

I don’t know if it will be automatic, but the team has a foundation in place to at least finish above fifth place for the first time ever. The question is when it will happen. I think with Scanlan the answer will be “very soon.”