Weekend Preview: North Dakota at Bemidji State

It’s a debut in more ways than one this weekend as North Dakota travels to Bemidji to take on the Beavers in the conference opener for both squads. Friday’s tilt will also open the lid on the brand new Bemidji Regional Event Center, the new home for BSU hockey. And this season marks Bemidji State’s first as a member of the WCHA.

For the homestanding Beavers, the top line of seniors Matt Read and Ian Lowe and sophomore phenom Jordan George will need to spark the offense. The three combined for 53 goals last season, 40 percent of the team’s lamplighters.

North Dakota brings high hopes into this season. Although the team said farewell to a couple of outstanding centermen in Chris Vandevelde and Darcy Zajac, the rest of the team returns, and four freshmen join the fold. Two of the incoming freshmen (forward Brock Nelson and defenseman Derek Forbort) were first-round picks in the 2010 NHL draft.

Although UND has had the better of the all-time series, eight of the last eleven games have gone to North Dakota by a single goal.

Bemidji State Team Profile

Head Coach: Tom Serratore (10th season at BSU, 163-128-33 .554)
National Ranking: NR/NR
This Season: 0-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA
Last Season: 23-10-4 (NCAA Midwest Regional semifinalist), 14-3-1 CHA (1st)
Key Player (last season’s statistics): Senior F Matt Read (19-22-41), Senior F Ian Lowe (21-10-31), Sophomore F Jordan George (13-21-34), Junior D Brad Hunt (7-26-33), Senior D Ryan Adams (1-6-7), Junior G Ryan Bakala (19-8-3, 2.33 GAA, .917 SV%, 3 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 156-84-25, .636)
National Ranking: #2/#2
This Season: 1-0-1, 0-0-0 WCHA
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Key Players (last season’s statistics): Junior F Jason Gregoire (20-17-37), Sophomore F Danny Kristo (15-21-36), Senior F Evan Trupp (8-26-34), Senior F Matt Frattin (11-8-19 in 24 games played)), Senior D Chay Genoway (4-6-10 in 9 games played), Senior D Derrick LaPoint (2-20-22), Junior G Brad Eidsness (24-10-4, 2.11 GAA, .914 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: January 3, 2009 (Grand Forks, ND). The Fighting Sioux scored a power play goal thirty seconds into overtime to upend the visiting Beavers 4-3. BSU had tallied its own man-advantage marker midway through the third period to tie the score. North Dakota doubled BSU in the shot department, 40-20.

Last Meeting in Bemidji: January 2, 2009. One night earlier, the teams erupted for five goals in the opening frame, with BSU nursing a 3-2 lead. UND took the lead in the middle period with two goals, and although Bemidji outshot North Dakota 10-1 in the last twenty minutes, they could not find the equalizer and the Fighting Sioux prevailed 4-3.

Most Important Meeting: Friday night’s opener is the most important meeting between the two teams. Bemidji State wants to open its arena and first WCHA season with a victory.

Last Ten: Over the past ten games between the schools, UND has won nine and tied once.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 17-1-1 (.921), including a 4-1-0 (.800) record in games played in Bemidji. BSU’s lone victory over North Dakota came on February 7, 1990.

Game News and Notes:

Trupp leads North Dakota with three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in four career games against BSU. The Beavers have gone 8-19 against WCHA teams over the past three seasons. The Fighting Sioux return five players who notched ten or more goals last season: Jason Gregoire, Danny Kristo, Brett Hextall, Matt Frattin, and Brad Malone. Bemidji State is 41-12-2 in home openers dating back to 1947.

The Prediction

There will be more than a capacity crowd at the BREC this weekend, and the place will be rocking. The first five minutes of each game will be fast and furious. If North Dakota can weather the early storm, they could take three points or more, but I’m going with a split. BSU 3-2, UND 4-2.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions.

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