Game Preview: UND vs. Bemidji State

Bemidji State is perhaps North Dakota’s most familiar non-conference opponent. This weekend’s matchup will mark the fourth consecutive season in which the schools will play a two-game series. The Beavers have competed well over that span, but have only one tie to go along with five losses over the past six games.

BSU has fared better against the WCHA as a whole. After struggling to a 3-42-3 record against the WCHA in its first six seasons at the Division I level, the Beavers have posted a 10-14 mark in the last three seasons. This season, Bemidji State has a 1-7-0 record in two-game series against St. Cloud State, MSU-Mankato, and Minnesota-Duluth, and single games against Colorado College and Denver. Four of those seven losses were by a single goal. By contrast, UND has an 8-4-0 record against those teams.

The WCHA recently announced a scheduling agreement with Bemidji State (a member of College Hockey America), an agreement that has the team and school officials hopeful for more home games and as many as 12 games each year against WCHA teams beginning in 2010-11.

Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore believes that the partnership between the schools is not only good from a scheduling standpoint, but also for the development of his players.

“When you play North Dakota, I don’t care what the outcome of the games are,” Serratore said. “We’re going to be a better hockey team (after the series) Sunday night. (UND’s) kids play so hard, with such intensity, and they are so talented that it forces us to be mentally strong. That’s going to make us a better hockey team, I guarantee it.”

North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol had similar praise for the Beavers.

“We’ve had great games against them all the way through,” Hakstol noted. “Bemidji plays with a great deal of intensity. They play extremely hard and with speed. I think that makes for very exciting hockey games for fans to watch. That’s what we’ve seen game in and game out and it will be the same this weekend.”

On the national scene, Bemidji State will need to win the College Hockey America postseason championship to advance to the NCAA tournament. North Dakota is currently in fourth place in the PWR rankings and has locked up home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

Bemidji State Team Profile
National Rankings: -/-
Head Coach: Tom Serratore (7th season at BSU, 117-99-28, .537)
This Season: 14-13-3 Overall, 11-4-3 CHA
Special Teams: Power Play 20.4% (29 of 142), Penalty Kill 89.1% (139 of 156)
Last Season: 14-14-5 Overall, 9-6-5 CHA (3rd)
Key Players: Freshmen F Matt Read (8-15-23), Junior F Tyler Scofield (10-11-21), Senior F Matt Pope (12-8-20), Junior D Cody Bostock (6-10-16), Senior G Matt Climie (12-6-3, 1.95 GAA, .921 SV, 5 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile
National Rankings: #2/#2
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (4th season at UND, 97-53-13, .635)
This Season: 19-8-2 Overall, 16-7-1 WCHA
Specialty Teams: Power Play 18.0% (23 of 128), Penalty Kill 88.9% (120 of 135)
Last Season: 24-14-5 (Frozen Four semifinalist), 13-10-5 WCHA (3rd)
Key Players: Junior F Ryan Duncan (11-19-30), Junior F T.J. Oshie (13-16-29), Sophomore F Chris VandeVelde (11-12-23), Senior D Robbie Bina (2-20-22), Sophomore D Chay Genoway (6-15-21), Senior G Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (19-8-2, 1.78 GAA, .930 SV, 4 SO)

By The Numbers
Last Meeting: January 20, 2007 (Grand Forks, ND). UND fell behind 2-0 in the first period before storming back for a 6-3 victory, completing the non-conference sweep in a home-and-home series with BSU. T.J. Oshie’s goal and three assists were instrumental to North Dakota’s comeback.
Most Important Meeting: For Bemidji State, it would have to be its only victory against the Fighting Sioux – February 7, 1970. The Beavers downed North Dakota, 7-5.
All-time series: UND leads the all-time series, 13-1-1 (.900)

Game News and Notes
The afternoon games were scheduled to accommodate the North Dakota boys and girls state high school hockey tournaments, held this weekend at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. UND will also play a Saturday/Sunday afternoon series at Minnesota-Duluth next weekend. North Dakota carries an 11-game unbeaten streak (10-0-1) into this weekend’s games. The Sioux have won six consecutive home games, and have never won more than seven home games in a row at the new Ralph Engelstad Arena. The Beavers are 1-7-0 against WCHA opponents this season, but four of those losses were by a single goal. Two North Dakota players were honored by the WCHA league office after UND swept Denver University last weekend. Junior forward Andrew Kozek produced six points (4g, 2a) and was named co-offensive player of the week, and sophomore defenseman Chay Genoway was named the league’s defensive player of the week. Genoway scored two goals, added two assists, and played in all situations, anchoring a Sioux defense that held the Pioneers under twenty shots each game

The Prediction
As head coach Tom Serratore says, his Beavers will be a better team Sunday night after going through the experience of playing the Fighting Sioux. Better, yes, but with no more wins. Bemidji State will hang tough, but North Dakota is clicking on all cylinders. UND 3-1, 4-2.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments and suggestions. For reaction to Saturday’s game action, click here. Click here for analysis and commentary on Sunday’s game.

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