Weekend Preview: UND at Bemidji State

It was a tough first go-round in the WCHA for Bemidji State. After competing in the CHA for eleven seasons and making the NCAA tournament in four of their final six CHA campaigns (including a Frozen Four appearance), the Beavers stumbled to an 8-15-5 mark in conference play last season.

Four of those WCHA losses came at the hands of North Dakota, who outscored BSU 20-7 in four games. Bemidji State got it going at the end of the season, however, and collected a road playoff sweep of Nebraska-Omaha and a victory over national champion Minnesota-Duluth on their way to the semifinals of the WCHA Final Five. Head coach Tom Serratore is hoping to build on that success and the experience of having been through a season in the toughest conference in the country.

For Dave Hakstol’s North Dakota squad, the injury news continues to get worse. Freshman forward Rocco Grimaldi (lower body injury) has been shut down for at least six weeks. The team is hopeful that he will be available for the stretch run, but season-ending surgery is also an option.

UND finds itself tied for eleventh in the league standings and needs to pick up wins this weekend if they have any hope of making a run at the top half of the WCHA.

In the unbalanced league schedule, Bemidji State will not make the return trip to Grand Forks during the 2011-2012 regular season.

Bemidji State Team Profile

Head Coach: Tom Serratore (11th season at BSU, 182-153-39 .539)
Pairwise Ranking: NR
National Rankings: NR/NR
This Season: 4-7-1 overal, 2-5-1 WCHA (9th)
Last Season: 15-18-5 overall, 8-15-5 WCHA (t-9th)

Team Offense: 2.58 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.33 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.5% (7 of 40)
Penalty Kill: 82.7% (43 of 52)

Key Players: Junior F Jordan George (6-2-8), Senior F Shea Walters (5-3-8), Senior F Ben Kinne (4-2-6), Senior D Brad Hunt (2-8-10), Senior G Dan Bakala (2-4-1, 3.02 GAA, .898 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (8th season at UND, 190-99-28, .644)
Pairwise Ranking: NR
National Rankings: NR/NR
This Season: 3-6-1 overall, 1-5-0 WCHA (t-11th)
Last Season: 32-9-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 21-6-1 WCHA (1st)

Team Offense: 2.40 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.30 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.6% (9 of 51)
Penalty Kill: 82.6% (38 of 46)

Key Players: Junior F Danny Kristo (4-8-12) Junior F Corban Knight (4-7-11), Sophomore F Brock Nelson (5-4-9), Sophomore D Derek Forbort (1-2-3), Senior D Ben Blood (1-2-3), Freshman D Nick Mattson (2-4-6), Senior G Brad Eidsness (1-1-0, 3.31 GAA, .895 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: February 27, 2011 (Grand Forks, ND). Four of the six seniors in the lineup scored a goal as the homestanding Sioux wrapped up a four game season sweep of the Beavers. UND won the Sunday afternoon contest 5-1 after downing BSU 5-2 on Saturday afternoon.

Last Meeting in Bemidji: October 16th, 2010. North Dakota throttled Bemidji State 5-2 one night after spoiling the grand opening of the Bemidji Regional Events Center (now known as Sanford Center) by the identical score. UND scored two second period goals in 1:30 to take the lead.

Most Important Meeting: October 15, 2010 (Bemidji, MN). In the first game played at the BREC, 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 43-18. One of the victories came in overtime.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 21-1-1 (.935), including a perfect 7-0-0 in games played in Bemidji. BSU’s lone victory over North Dakota came on February 7, 1970.

Game News and Notes:

Due to Disney on Ice on Friday night, this WCHA series will be played at 7:07 on Saturday night and 5:07 Sunday afternoon. Bemidji has been outscored 16-7 in third periods this season. UND head coach Dave Hakstol needs ten more victories to secure 200 wins in his coaching career. BSU has not scored a power play goal since October 22nd, a span of 15 unsuccessful man advantage opportunities. Sioux forward Danny Kristo was held scoreless against Minnesota, his first weekend without a point this season.

The Prediction

Here’s hoping that North Dakota’s play on the ice this weekend is more Beauty than Beast. UND needs at least three points this weekend to start making headway in the league race. Bemidji has never had success against the Fighting Sioux, and although the teams are closer this year than ever before, I give the edge to UND. 3-3 tie, UND 4-2.

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