Weekend Preview: UND vs. Bemidji State

Bemidji State had a rough introduction to the WCHA. In addition to losing their first two games at home to North Dakota by identical 5-2 scores, the Beavers didn’t find their third victory of the season until November 27th. To put that in perspective, North Dakota had won nine games by that point.

That victory over Northern Michigan, coupled with a home sweep over Nebraska-Omaha the following weekend, gave the BSU faithful some hope. Since that time, however, Tom Serratore’s squad has gone just 7-6-3 and are almost certainly going on the road for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. Bemidji State is currently in 9th place in the league, tied with the other two “State”s (MSU-Mankato and St. Cloud). If the Beavers are looking to move up in the standings and host playoff games at the BREC, they will need a split (or better) this weekend.

North Dakota hasn’t missed a beat since losing defenseman Chay Genoway (lower body injury) and forward Danny Kristo (frostbite). The team has clicked in their absence, and the return of forwards Jason Gregoire (7-7-14 in his last eight games) and Brett Hextall (5-2-7 in his last five) has softened the blow somewhat.

There is an outside chance that league-leading UND would hoist the MacNaughton Cup (WCHA regular season championship trophy) this weekend at Ralph Engelstad Arena. A sweep, coupled with some help (Denver, Duluth, and Nebraska-Omaha are all within three points, with DU and UNO playing each other) could lead to a celebration on Sunday afternoon.

And a final word about the ice conditions: REA is hosting the North Dakota state boys’ and girls’ hockey championships this weekend, in addition to the UND mens’ hockey series against Bemidji State. Kudos to the staff and crew at REA for keeping the ice in great shape over this stretch of games.

Bemidji State Team Profile

Head Coach: Tom Serratore (10th season at BSU, 175-142-37 .547)
This Season: 12-14-4, 8-12-4 WCHA (t-9th)
Last Season: 23-10-4 (NCAA Midwest Regional semifinalist), 14-3-1 CHA (1st)
Pairwise Ranking: 29th
National Rankings: NR/NR

Team Offense: 2.30 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.47 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.6% (21 of 102)
Penalty Kill: 82.6% (114 of 138)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Read (16-12-28), Senior F Ian Lowe (11-12-23), Sophomore F Jordan George (14-17-31), Junior D Brad Hunt (1-16-17), Freshman D Sam Rendle (3-8-11), Junior G Dan Bakala (11-9-3, 2.17 GAA, .925 SV%, 3 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 177-92-27, .644)
This Season: 22-8-3, 17-6-1 WCHA (1st)
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)
Pairwise Ranking: 2nd
National Rankings: #1/#1

Team Offense: 3.67 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.39 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.7% (34 of 173)
Penalty Kill: 84.0% (131 of 156)

Key Players: Senior F Matt Frattin (24-14-38), Junior F Jason Gregoire (14-14-28), Sophomore F Corban Knight (13-20-33), Senior F Evan Trupp (13-15-28), Senior F/D Jake Marto (5-7-12), Freshman D Derek Forbort (0-13-13), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (21-6-2, 2.02 GAA, .919 SV%, 4 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: October 16, 2010 (Bemidji, MN). North Dakota defeated the Beavers 5-2 to earn the road sweep after downing BSU one night earlier by the identical score. Matt Frattin scored four goals and added an assist in the weekend series.

Last Meeting in Grand Forks: January 3, 2009. 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.

Most Important Meeting: October 15, 2010 (Bemidji, MN). In the first game played at the BREC (Bemidji Regional Events Center), North Dakota spotted BSU the opening goal less than two minutes into the contest and then steamrolled the Beavers 5-2. The Fighting Sioux outshot their fellow Green-and-Whiters 38-14.

Last Ten: North Dakota has won the last ten meetings between the teams by a combined score of 40-18. One of the victories came in overtime.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 19-1-1 (.929), including a 12-1-1 (.893) record in games played in Grand Forks. BSU’s lone victory over North Dakota came on February 7, 1990.

Game News and Notes:

UND clinched home ice for the opening round of the WCHA playoffs for the ninth consecutive year, the longest active streak in the league. North Dakota forwards Matt Frattin (97 career points) and Evan Trupp (96 career points) could join UND’s Century Club this weekend. This season, Bemidji State is 9-1-1 when leading after two periods and 1-9-1 when trailing after two periods. The Fighting Sioux senior class has scored nearly half (60 of 121) of the team’s goals this season. The Beavers are riding a five game unbeaten streak (3-0-2). Sophomore Aaron Dell has started the last twenty games in net for North Dakota (14-3-2, 1.84 GAA, .930 SV%, 3 SO in that span).

The Prediction

The afternoon games are always tricky to predict, but North Dakota has been on a roll and the only thing that could derail the train is BSU’s line of Jordan George, Ian Lowe, and Matt Read. I’m seeing two close games, with UND’s depth (watch for scoring from unexpected places this weekend) proving to be the difference. UND 4-2, 3-2.

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

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