Bemidji State opens CCHA play at Northern Michigan
The Bemidji State University men’s hockey team will officially make its Central Collegiate Hockey Association debut Friday when it travels to Marquette, Mich. to kickoff the 28-game league schedule with a two-game series at Northern Michigan University. The Beavers and Wildcats open the series at 5:37 p.m. (EST) Friday with Saturday’s series finale set for 5:37 p.m.
In a series that just got its start in 2009, BSU holds an edge winning 15 of 29 (15-8-6) previous meetings, which includes an 8-2-2 record when facing the Wildcats on the Olympic sheet at Berry Event Center. Unfortunately, the Beavers enter the series having lost the last two meetings win NMU getting outscored 8-3 (5-1 and 3-2 (ot)) Feb. 12-13, 2021 at Sanford Center.
Bemidji State officially opens Central Collegiate Hockey Association play this weekend when it travels to Marquette, Mich. for a league series with Northern Michigan University. The puck drops on the series at 5:37 p.m. (CDT) Friday and will wrap up with a 5:37 p.m. (CDT) opening faceoff Saturday from the Berry Events Center. The Beavers open the weekend as the nation’s No. 19 team according to USCHO.com, while Northern Michigan is among team receiving votes. It marks BSU’s fourth straight week among the top 20 teams in the country.
BSU holds a convincing 15-8-6 edge in the all-time series dating back to 2009, however, the Wildcats got the best of the Beavers a year ago sweeping the series between the teams, Feb. 12-13 in Bemidji, Minn., 5-1 and 3-2 in overtime. When facing NMU on its home ice, the Berry Event Center, BSU is 8-2-2 and have won three straight dating back to Oct. 27, 2018. Junior forward Alex Ierullo has one of BSU’s 10 goals this season and is one of four players with a team-best two assists through four games. Ierullo led the Beavers in scoring a year ago netting a career-high 24 points (7g-17a) on 29 contests and paced the team with 17 assists.
Captain Ethan Somoza is back in the Beavers’ lineup in 2021-22, his fifth season in a BSU sweater. A year ago, he posted a career-high and team-best 15 goals, which included two in BSU’s NCAA East Regional semifinal win over Wisconsin. He is joined by fellow captain Brad Johnson as Beavers who returned for a super senior season due to COVID-19 rules.
Senior Tyler Kirkup is the reigning CCHA Player of the Week. The forward netted four points in the Beaver series split with then-No. 7 North Dakota, Oct. 15-16. He scored three of the Beavers’ seven goals in the series, while adding an assist. He leads BSU in goal scoring (3) and points (4) through the first four games. Kirkup’s three goals, match his goal-scoring total from the 2020-21 season (3) and account for 25 -percent of his career total (12). The Virden, Manitoba native’s single-season career-high is four goals, established in 2019-20.
BSU’s top scoring rookie a year ago was Lukas Sillinger. He posted 15 points (6g-9a) to rank second among WCHA rookies and sixth on the team. He finished with eight points (2g-6a) in BSU’s last 12 games. He is currently tied for the team’s lead with two assists. Brothers Owen and Lukas Sillinger have had the unique opportunity to be teammates at BSU. Owen set up his younger brother’s first collegiate goal Dec. 12, 2020. A hockey family, their father, Mike, played for 12 teams during his 17-year NHL career and younger brother Cole was drafted 12th overall by the Columbus Bluejackets in 2021 and opened the season on the club’s NHL roster.