Weekend Preview: UND vs. Bemidji State

Bemidji State is very happy with the new-look WCHA. One year after half of the league bolted for greener pastures, the Beavers find themselves in the top half of the league standings. BSU has already collected seven conference wins this season after stumbling to 11th place in the WCHA last year with a 5-16-7 league record.

North Dakota’s current seven game winning streak has UND in second place in the NCHC and in a position to make a run at St. Cloud State for the league title. Dave Hakstol’s squad is still on the outside looking in at the NCAA tournament field, but the prospects are brighter than they were when the team was sitting at 4-7-2.

Tom Serratore’s Beavers collected a huge 1-0 victory the last time North Dakota visited the BREC, and if BSU is to repeat that accomplishment this weekend, goaltending is the key. Junior netminder Andrew Walsh had been getting the bulk of the minutes for Bemidji State, but his numbers (5-9-3, 2.99 GAA, .903 SV%) don’t exactly inspire confidence.

Enter freshman Jesse Wilkins. In less than six games’ worth of action, the rookie is 2-1-3 with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage.

For UND, little things have been making a difference. The team is finally healthy and getting contributions up and down the lineup. Sophomore goaltender Zane Gothberg has locked down the #1 job. And despite a letdown against the Colorado College power play last weekend, special teams play has been good enough to win most nights.

The teams will play a home and home series this weekend, with UND traveling to Bemidji for Friday’s opener before returning to Grand Forks to host the Beavers on Saturday night.

These games are critical for North Dakota’s postseason aspirations. UND currently sports a 4-2-2 record in non-conference play, and considering the NCHC’s abysmal non-conference record overall, will need at least a split on the weekend to avoid dropping out of the tournament picture.

Bemidji State Team Profile

Head Coach: Tom Serratore (13th season at BSU, 208-197-55 .512)

Pairwise Ranking: 36th (tie)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 7-11-6 overall, 7-7-4 WCHA (4th)
Last Season: 6-22-8 overall, 5-16-7 WCHA (11th)

Team Offense: 2.75 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.04 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.9% (19 of 106)
Penalty Kill: 86.5% (96 of 111)

Key Players: Sophomore F Cory Ward (12-8-20), Sophomore F Markus Gerbrandt (11-6-7), Junior F Danny Mattson (3-11-14), Junior D Matt Prapavessis (5-12-17), Sophomore D Graeme McCormack (1-12-13), Freshman G Jesse Wilkins (2-1-3, 2.28 GAA, .935 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (10th season at UND, 246-126-39, .646)

Pairwise Ranking: 19th (tie)
National Ranking: #20
This Season: 11-7-2 overall, 7-5-0 NCHC (2nd)
Last Season: 22-13-7 overall (NCAA West Regional finalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (3rd)

Team Offense: 2.90 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.85 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 19.8% (18 of 91)
Penalty Kill: 81.8% (81 of 99)

Key Players: Sophomore F Rocco Grimaldi (7-12-19), Sophomore F Drake Caggiula (5-6-11), Sophomore F Michael Parks (5-9-14), Senior D Dillon Simpson (4-9-13), Sophomore D Jordan Schmaltz (2-9-11), Sophomore G Zane Gothberg (9-5-2, 2.38 GAA, .914 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: March 2nd, 2013 (Grand Forks, ND). UND’s Jordan Schmaltz potted the tying goal with under twelve minutes to play as North Dakota salvaged a 2-2 tie with visiting Bemidji State. North Dakota had 80 shot attempts, but the Beavers blocked 28 shots and BSU goaltender Andrew Walsh stopped 28 of the 30 pucks he faced. UND won the series opener 4-2.

Last Meeting in Bemidji: November 20th, 2011. With a 1-0 victory, the Beavers defeated North Dakota for just the second time in program history (and first since 1970). BSU’s Jordan George scored the game’s only goal after UND’s Andrew MacWilliam and Mark MacMillan both took penalties on the same play. George’s five-on-three tally was Bemidji State’s first power play goal in seven games.

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 is 8-1-1 (.850) in the last ten meetings between the teams, outscoring the Beavers 39-18 over that stretch of games.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 25-2-2 (.897), including an 8-1-0 (.889) record in games played in Bemidji. BSU’s two victories over North Dakota came 41 years apart (1970 and 2011).

Game News and Notes

Bemidji State is just 3-8-3 on home ice this season. Junior forward Mark MacMillan leads UND with eight points in six career games against the Beavers. BSU swept Lake Superior State last weekend, while North Dakota did the same to Colorado College.

The Prediction

UND will have a difficult time finding space in Friday’s opener, but will play well enough to earn a point. Saturday’s rematch will be all North Dakota. 2-2 tie, UND 4-1.

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