Weekend Preview: UND vs. Bemidji State

Last season, North Dakota and Bemidji State played a home and home series during a January blizzard. This year, it’s the official opener for both teams, with a zero percent chance of snow.

There are family connections on both rosters in 2014-15. North Dakota freshman forward Nick Schmaltz joins older brother Jordan (a junior defenseman) in UND’s lineup, and his puck handling skills and vision were on full display in Sunday’s exhibition tilt against Manitoba. Fans of the Green and White should look forward to the Schmaltz brothers on the same power play unit, at least early in the season.

And Tom Serratore has his own version of Slapshot’s Hanson brothers in triplets Myles, Gerry, and Leo Fitzgerald. Miles and Gerry were second and third in scoring last season for the Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL), and the three forwards have been described as “throwback hockey players”. The Beavers have not played an exhibition game this season, but Serratore indicated that the Fitzgerald brothers would be playing together on the same line.

The teams will play a home and home series this weekend, with Bemidji traveling to UND for Friday’s opener before returning home to host North Dakota on Saturday night. BSU will have a week off before traveling to Mariucci Arena to take on the top-ranked Golden Gophers for a pair of games, while Dave Hakstol’s club will open up NCHC action next weekend at Colorado College.

These games are critical for North Dakota’s postseason aspirations. Last season, Dave Hakstol’s squad went 5-2-3 in non-conference action and barely made the playoffs, while Bemidji State sported an abysmal 0-7-3 record in non-league games. UND’s other non-conference opponents this season will be #3 Providence, #10 Wisconsin, Lake Superior State, and Niagara.

Bemidji State Team Profile

Head Coach: Tom Serratore (14th season at BSU, 211-207-56 .504)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 0-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 WCHA
Last Season: 10-21-7 overall, 10-14-4 WCHA (t-8th)

2013-14 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 2.42 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.11 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 14.5% (23 of 159)
Penalty Kill: 85.8% (139 of 162)

Key Returning Players (2013-14 statistics): Junior F Cory Ward (18-11-29), Junior F Markus Gerbrandt (15-10-25), Sophomore F Brendan Harms (7-14-21), Senior D Matt Prapavessis (5-17-22), Junior D Graeme McCormack (3-14-17), Senior G Andrew Walsh (7-12-4, 3.04 GAA, .904 SV%, 2 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (11th season at UND, 260-133-40, .647.)
National Ranking: #2/#2
This Season: 0-0-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 NCHC
Last Season: 25-14-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four appearance), 15-9-0-0 NCHC (2nd)

2013-14 Season Statistics:
Team Offense: 3.02 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.43 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.2% (32 of 186)
Penalty Kill: 83.4% (146 of 175)

Key Returning Players (2013-14 statistics): Senior F Michael Parks (12-18-30), Senior F Mark MacMillan (10-16-26), Junior F Drake Caggiula (11-13-24), Junior D Jordan Schmaltz (6-18-24), Senior D Nick Mattson (4-9-23), Junior G Zane McIntyre (20-10-3, 1.99 GAA, .926 SV%, 3 SO)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: January 18, 2014 (Grand Forks, ND). North Dakota used a balanced attack and some unlikely goal scorers to defeat Bemidji State 4-2. Conner Gaarder, Derek Rodwell, and Andrew Panzarella, who had combined for five goals on the season, all scored against the Beavers. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in Bemidji in Friday’s opener. UND outshot BSU 76-32 on the weekend.

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 7-1-2 (.800) in the last ten meetings between the teams, outscoring the Beavers 34-17 over that stretch of games.

All-time Series: UND leads the all-time series, 26-2-3 (.887), including an 8-1-1 (.850) record in games played in Bemidji. BSU’s two victories over North Dakota came 41 years apart (1970 and 2011).

Game News and Notes

North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol needs just three more coaching victories to pass Dean Blais and become the second-winningest head coach in program history. Bemidji State returns twenty letterwinners from last year’s roster. Junior forward Mark MacMillan leads UND with ten points in eight career games against the Beavers. UND will honor longtime WDAZ sports director Pat Sweeney prior to tonight’s contest.

The Prediction

UND will come out flying against the Beavers, showcasing the skill and depth that has them near the top of the national rankings. Saturday’s rematch in Bemidji will be a tougher contest, with North Dakota scoring late to earn the sweep UND 4-1, 2-1.

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