Beaver Fever Friday – Jere Vaisanen – Mens Hockey

Men’s Hockey hosts Northern Michigan looking to halt losing slump

Bemidji State Men’s Hockey hosts Northern Michigan for league series at Sanford Center

The (RV) Bemidji State University Men’s Hockey team attempts to ditch its three-game losing skid this weekend and return to Sanford Center after its last three games on the road. The Beavers (9-8-4, 7-4-3 CCHA) return home and host Northern Michigan University for the final regular season series against the Wildcats (11-11-0, 7-7-0 CCHA).

Bemidji State and Northern Michigan split its first season series back on Nov. 11-12 in Marquette, Mich. The Wildcats earned a 2-0 victory in game one with BSU rallying for a 4-1 victory in game two. Puck drop for game one against the Wildcats is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 20 at 7:07 p.m., with game two on Saturday at 6:07 p.m.

The Bemidji State-Northern Michigan series dates back to 2009 for four non-conference games before the two teams were members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 2014. The two teams have been members of the same conference (WCHA, CCHA) ever since.

Bemidji State has had the better of the Wildcats in the all-time series holding a 19-10-6 record (.630) over 35 meetings.

The two teams have met just once in post season play and not since the 2016-17 season where the Beavers earned a 2-1 series victory over the Wildcats in the first round of the WCHA Playoffs at Sanford Center.

The series has evened out more over the last few seasons but BSU still holds a 6-4-0 advantage over their last 10 matchups.

In their first series of 2022-23, the then ranked No. 20 Beavers were stunned by a late goal from NMU’s Artem Shlaine with just 1:46 to play and then added an empty-net goal to claim a 2-0 victory in game one back on Nov. 11. The Beavers responded in game two winning 4-1 with goals from Will Magnuson, Will Zmolek, Alexander Lundman and Jere Vaisanen.

Sophomore goaltender Mattias Sholl stopped 58-of-60 shots in that series (.967) and was named the CCHA’s Goaltender of the Week for the second time this season. He was joined by Zmolek as the Defenseman of the Week after he totaled two points (1g-1a), two blocks and a +2 rating on the ice.

Bemidji State has been dominant when playing in Marquette, Mich., and are 11-3-2 when playing on the road. However, it is just 8-7-4 when hosting the Wildcats at Sanford Center. The Beavers and Wildcats split last season’s series at Sanford Center by scores of 1-2 (L) and 5-3 (W).

Fifth-year senior Ross Armour paces all active Beavers with 12 career games against NMU and has totaled two points off two assists.

Senior Elias Rosén leads the team with 7 points (1g-6a) in 10 career games versus the Wildcats and carries a +2 rating on the ice into this weekend’s series. Senior Kyle Looft leads all Beavers with a +5 rating versus NMU and has recorded two points off a goal and assist in 10 games.

Sholl leads BSU netminders with five games and four starts against NMU and has posted elite numbers against the Wildcats. He is 3-20 with a .949 save percentage (131-of-138) a 1.57 goals against average.

After being swept at Bowling Green State University this past weekend, Bemidji State remains out of the USAToday/USAHockeyMagazine and top-20 national polls but are still receiving votes in both polls.

Northern Michigan is failing to receive votes in either poll.

Bemidji State dropped eight spots to 28th in this week’s PairWise and will have ground to regain this weekend. The Wildcats are 39th in the PairWise rankings. Three teams are ahead of the Beavers in the rankings in Michigan Tech (t12th), Minnesota State (t14th) and Bowling Green (24th).

Bemidji State was swept for the first time of the season last weekend have not been swept since Feb. 19, 2022 (at Minnesota State).

Bemidji State sits fourth in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association standings with 25 league points and are 9-8-5 overall and 7-4-3 in conference play. However, the Beavers have four games in hand against conference leader Bowling Green and two games in hand against second and third Minnesota State and Michigan Tech.

The Beavers have the Wildcats nipping at their heels with NMU sitting sixth in the league standings with 18 points, seven behind the Beavers. Both teams have played 14 league games.

Northern Michigan had its bye weekend last weekend and last played Jan. 6-7. The Wildcats look to snap a two-game losing skid after being swept by then No. 19 Minnesota State at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich.

The Wildcats are led by senior AJ Vanderbeck who has totaled 25 points off 11 goals and 14 assists. He is tied for fourth in the CCHA in goals and tied for eighth in assists. He also leads the nation with 100 shots on goal and averages 4.76 shots per game. He is outside of the league’s top-30 skaters in shooting percentage at .140.

Vanderbeck is followed by senior Andre Ghantous who has totaled 21 points off four goals and 17 assists and is tied for second in the league in assists this season.

Northern Michigan has had its offense generated mostly by its forward corps this season as its top eight scorers are all forwards. Freshman Joey Larson is the team’s leading point getter on the blueline and has totaled 12 points off two goals and 10 assists.

NMU is led between the pipes by freshman Beni Halasz who is 9-9-0 with a .913 save percentage and 2.37 goals against average to rank sixth and fifth, respectively, in each category. Halasz made history earlier this season and became Hungarian born goaltender to play in a NCAA Division I game.

The Wildcats have scored 41 goals in conference play this season and rank sixth with a -0.4 scoring margin in conference play (41-46).

The Wildcats are third in Division I in face-off win percentage (.552), eighth in power play goals (24) and 10th in power play percentage (.253).

The Beavers are led by senior blueliner Elias Rosén who has totaled 17 points (1g-16a) in 22 games. The Mora, Sweden native has points in his last two games (3a) and nine of the last 12 (1g-12a).

Rosén paces the team with 16 assists and is tied for second among CCHA defenseman in points (17). His 16 helpers are tied for ninth among defensemen in Division I.

Freshman Lleyton Roed is having one of the best rookie campaigns in the CCHA and at BSU. He is second among league rookies with 16 points (6g-10a) and has compiled best rookie season at BSU since Elias Rosén totaled 24 points in 35 games (5g-19a) during his first season with the Beavers (2019-20).

Roed has points in his last three games (4a) to lead the team with an active three game point streak.

Fifth-year senior Mitchell Martan and sophomore Alexander Lundman lead the team with seven goals each while Roed follows with six.

Senior Will Zmolek has shutdown opposing forwards and leads the team and is fourth in the CCHA with 47 blocked shots. He has also contributed 11 points (2g-9a) offensively. Fellow senior Kyle Looft is close behind and fifth in the league with 42 blocks.

Sophomore goaltender Mattias Sholl has been dominant between the pipes for the Beavers and is 7-5-5 with a 2.01 goals against average and .923 save percentage. He leads the CCHA in GAA and is second in save percentage and has appeared in 77.5 percent of the team’s minutes.

Among goalies who have played in 10 or more games he is tied for ninth in Division I in save percentage and tied for seventh in goals against average.

The Beavers started January going 0-3-1 in the first weeks of the month. Historically the Beavers have a winning record during January and are 85-66-16 (.564) over its 67 seasons.

Bemidji State has scored 41 goals in conference play and are third in the CCHA with a +0.57 scoring margin in league play.

Bemidji State is third in the CCHA by averaging 29.14 shots per game and allow 27.2 shots per game. The Beavers are 6-3-3 this season when outshooting their opponents and 4-3-2 when recording 30 or more shots.

The Beavers are 6-4-3 (.577) when scoring the first goal this season but historically are 281-132-48 (.663) throughout their history.

Bemidji State is undefeated when scoring three or more goals this season with a record of 8-0-1. When the opponent scores three or more goals, the Beavers are just 3-7-1.

Bemidji State has scored 16 power-play goals in 67 attempts for a power-play percentage of .239, fourth in the CCHA. The Beavers are 16th in the nation on the power play and went 2-for-4 in its last series at BGSU.

The Beavers’ penalty kill has allowed 15 goals in 67 opportunities for a penalty-kill percentage of .776, sixth in the CCHA. The Beavers killed off seven-of-eight chances last weekend.

Bemidji State is one of the least penalized team sin Division I and are second the nation by averaging just 6.77 penalty minutes per game. The Beavers just 73 penalties called against them, 18 fewer than the next CCHA member Minnesota State.

Fifth-year senior Ross Armour co-captains the team with senior defenseman Kyle Looft while senior Elias Rosén and senior Will Zmolek serve as alternates.

Tom Serratore is in his 22nd season at the helm of the Bemidji State Men’s Hockey program and owns a 363-335-97 career record (.520).

He is 19-10-6 all-time coaching against the Wildcats and is the lone coach in BSU history to face NMU.