The Beaver Radio Network

Beaver Fever Friday – Carter Struthers – Mens Hockey

The Bemidji State University men’s ice hockey team (5-6-5; 2-4-4-2 WCHA) continues Western Collegiate Hockey Association play this weekend as it hosts the University of Alaska-Anchorage (1-11-4; 1-6-3-3 WCHA) to wrap up the first half of the 2017-18 season. With the Beavers seeking their first league win since Nov. 4, the series versus the Seawolves may be just what the doctor ordered to set BSU on the right track before the holiday break. BSU has surrendered just one loss to UAA in the last 17 meetings.

The Beavers open the series on the heels of a pair of ties to Northern Michigan University at Sanford Center, Dec. 8-9. Third-Team All-WCHA forward, senior Gerry Fitzgerald continues to lead the team in scoring, averaging just under 1.00 point per game (4g-10a) in 16 appearances this season. Senior Kyle Bauman is one of the Beavers’ hottest players and most consistent scorers. He leads the team with six goals and in the eight games since Nov. 10, the forward has eight points (1g-7a). He is joined by rookie Aaron Miller. After logging just one point in his first seven appearances, the freshman has posted six points (1g-5a) in his last seven appearances. CCM All-America West First Team goaltender Michael Bitzer has backstopped a penalty-kill unit that is third in the nation through the first 11 weeks of the season. The team has snuffed out 48 of its opponents’ 53 man advantage opportunities (.96) and 31-of-34 in WCHA play to rank only behind Ferris State (.927). Bitzer has started in the Beavers’ net for 15-of-16 games and is 5-5-5 with a .898 save percentage and a 2.67 goals against average.

Alaska-Anchorage travels to Bemidji, Minn., looking to correct a streak of eight games without a win (0-3-5), however unlike the Beavers, the Seawolves have come out of its three most recent ties either winning in a shoot out or in the 3-on-3 overtime period to grab the extra point in the league standings.

Senior forward Austin Azurdia enters the weekend as the Seawolves’ top scorer. He has 13 points (8g-5a) and leads UAA with eight goals and a game-winner. Junior Jonah Renouf owns the team’s top assist total (8), while he is second with 10 points (2g-8a). All but one of his assists have come in 10 WCHA games to pace the team in league play. Olivier Mantha has shouldered the bulk of the Seawolves’ goaltending duties, appearing in all 16 games and logging 949:35 between the pipes. He ranks third in the nation with 519 saves this season while posting a .911 save percentage. He is 1-11-4 and has surrendered 3.22 goals per game.

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