Beaver Fever Friday – Kyle Looft – Mens Hockey

Mason Cup on the line Friday night at Sanford Center as No. 20 Beavers host (RV) Huskies

BSU Men’s Hockey hosts (RV) Michigan Tech for CCHA Mason Cup Championship

Two teams will battle Friday night at Sanford Center for an opportunity to hoist the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Mason Cup as tournament champions and earn a spot in the 2024 NCAA DI Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament.

The Bemidji State University Men’s Hockey team (20-15-2) hosts Michigan Technological University (18-14-6) Friday (March 22) for the winner-take-all, single-elimination game in front of a sold out Sanford Center.

The 2023-24 CCHA regular season champion Beavers reached their second CCHA Championship game in three years after defeating Ferris State University in the Quarterfinal round and then Lake Superior State in the Semifinals.

The Beavers are seeking their first CCHA Playoff championship in program history and make their sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament with the league’s automatic qualifier.

Bemidji State earned the No. 1 seed in the CCHA Playoffs earning home-ice advantage throughout every round and hosts No. 3 seed Michigan Tech.

BSU will attempt at its first conference tournament championship since 2009 and become the third team in its DI history to win the regular season championship and postseason championship in the same season.

The last time the Beavers won the regular season and postseason was in their historical run in the NCAA Tournament in 2009 advancing to the program’s only NCAA Frozen Four.

The Beavers last made the national tournament in 2021 advancing to the East Regional Final before falling to University of Massachusetts.

The Beavers enter the CCHA Mason Cup Championship as one of the hottest teams in all of college hockey and boasts a program DI record nine-game winning streak, the second longest active winning streak in DI behind No. 1 Boston College who has won its last 10 games.

The Beavers also boast an 11-game unbeaten streak (10-0-1) the longest in their DI history and is the longest unbeaten streak in Division I.

The Beavers have not lost a game since Feb. 3 against Augustana (47 days).

Bemidji State also boasts a seven-game winning streak at home the third longest in Division I.

The Beavers’ .714 winning percentage (15-6-0) at home this season is the best in the CCHA and 12th in the nation.

BSU’s 15 wins at home is sixth most in the nation.

The longest win streak in 68 seasons of Beavers Hockey is 42 games after a perfect 31-0-0 1983-84 season, a collegiate hockey record.

Bemidji State reached the 20-win milestone for the first time since the 2019-20 season and eighth time in its DI era.

During their 11-game unbeaten streak, the Beavers are averaging 4.00 goals per game (44) and allowing just 1.73 (19).

Bemidji State will need to go through a team that is also playing its best hockey of the season as the Huskies have won their last four games and are 6-1-0 over the last seven.

Michigan Tech earned the regular season series victory over the Beavers going 2-1-1 and split their series in Bemidji on Nov. 10-11.

The Huskies hold a slight edge over the Beavers in the all-time series with a 23-22-8 record but the Beavers are 3-2 against MTU in postseason play including a 5-2 victory in Houghton in their last postseason meeting in the 2022 CCHA Semifinal.

The two teams have never battled each other with a conference championship on the line.

15 of the Beavers’ 22 wins against the Huskies have come at Sanford Center boasting a 15-12-1 record at home versus MTU.

In just two games versus the Huskies this season, fifth-year senior Kyle Looft has posted five points off three goals and two assists but missed the last series in Houghton due to injury.

He is followed by senior Eric Martin (1g-3a), freshman Eric Pohlkamp (1g-2a), senior Jackson Jutting (1g-2a) and fifth-year senior Carter Jones (3a).

Looft, Jutting and junior Will Magnuson each missed the last series against Michigan Tech on Jan. 19-20 due to injury while junior Mattias Sholl missed the Nov. 10-11 series at Sanford Center.

This season, Sholl is 0-1-1 against the Huskies but has posted a dominant .949 save percentage and 1.95 goals against average.

Martin leads active skaters with nine career points (4g-5a) against the Huskies and is followed by sophomore Lleyton Roed with eight (5g-3a).

Roed’s five career goals versus MTU is most by any Beaver.

Sholl is 3-5-2 in his career versus Michigan Tech and has a 2.50 goals against average and .912 save percentage.

23-year head coach Tom Serratore is 22-23-8 when coaching against the Huskies and 3-2 in postseason play.

In the final CCHA weekly awards, Eric Pohlkamp was named the CCHA Defenseman of the Week for the third time after helping the Beavers to a 4-1 victory over Lake Superior State in the Semifinal round.

Bemidji State is the No. 20 team for the second consecutive week in the top-20 national poll and entered the USAHockey/The Rink Live top-20 poll for the first time since Jan. 2, 2022 and are ranked 20th.

Bemidji State is the highest scoring team in the CCHA averaging 3.14 goals (116) over 37 games but faces the top defensive team in the league with MTU limiting opponents to 2.53 goals per game.

The Beavers are averaging 4.33 goals throughout the CCHA Playoffs while holding opponents to just 1.67 goals per game. Bemidji State is out-scoring its opponents 13-5 with one shutout and out-shooting them 128-66.

Eric Pohlkamp is pacing the Beavers’ throughout the postseason posting six points (4g-2a) in three games with junior Jere Vaisanen (1g-3a) and Looft (4a) each following with four points.

Bemidji State ranks fourth in the CCHA allowing an average of 2.95 goals per game (109) over the course of the season but have allowed one or fewer goals in four of the last five games.

BSU is the most efficient scoring team in the conference scoring 116 goals on 1091 shots scoring on 10.6 percent of its shots.

The Beavers’ strength has been five-on-five this season and are second in the league with a 53.0 even strength goals for percentage and 25th in DI. The Beavers trail conference leader Michigan Tech by one percent.

The Beavers are known for sacrificing in the defensive zone and have blocked the fourth-most shots in DI with 556 and leads the CCHA. Junior Will Magnuson paces the team and is eighth in the nation with 75 blocked shots.

BSU is 21st in the nation in scoring offense and 30th in scoring defense.

Bemidji State is led by Hobey Baker Award nominee Lleyton Roed who has posted 30 points (14g-16g) in 37 games. He is the first Beaver to post back-to-back 30 or more point seasons since Jordan George recorded three consecutive 30-point seasons from 2009-2012. He is one point shy of tying his freshman season-high of 31 points. His 10 power-play points paces the team and his five power-play goals are tied with Pohlkamp for most on the team.

In just two seasons with the Beavers, Roed has compiled 61 career points (27g-34a) and his 0.84 point per game average is fifth among Beavers that played in the DI era (Matt Read-0.97, Luke Erickson-0.97, Andrew Murray-0.90, Owen Sillinger-0.86). He is 34th in scoring during the Beavers’ DI history.

Roed is followed by fifth-year senior and captain Kyle Looft who has 28 points (6g-22a) in 31 games despite missing six games due to injury.

Looft leads all league defensemen in points and is fourth among all league skaters with a 0.90 point per game average. He is 10th among all defenseman in Division I in point per game average. His 28 points this season are tied for the sixth most in a single season by a Beaver defenseman in the DI era.

Looft is also second in the league with a +17 rating on the ice and trails conference leader fellow Beaver Adam Flammang who is +18.

Senior Eric Martin is right behind with a career-high 26 points (8g-18a). He has three points in three playoff games including a two-goal effort on March 8.

The Beavers boast their scoring depth with six skaters posting 20 or more points this season and 14 with 10 or more.

Eric Pohlkamp (24 points), Carter Jones (24 points) and Jackson Jutting (21 points) round out the six Beavers with 20 or more points.

Pohlkamp is the fist Bemidji State defenseman to score 10 goals in a season since John Haider (11) in 2003-04. His 11 goals is tied for the second most by a BSU d-man in its DI era (Stefan Bjork, 15 goals). The Brainerd, Minn., native and San Jose Shark draft pick has a four-game point streak (4g-3a) and three-game goal scoring streak heading into the championship tilt. His 24 points this season is tied for the second most points by a BSU freshman defenseman in its DI era trailing Brad Hunt’s 32-point (9g-22a) freshman season in 2008-09.

Since returning from winning gold with Team USA at the World Junior Championship, Pohlkamp has 15 points (7g-8a) in 15 games. Before the World Juniors he had nine points (4g-5a) through his first 16 games. mHe has also dramatically shifted his play in the defensive end and boasts a +13 rating over the last 15 games.

Pohlkamp leads CCHA defenseman with 116 shots on goal, fourth among DI defenseman and fourth among all CCHA skaters. His 3.74 shots on goal per game is second in the CCHA. Pohlkamp is joined by fifth-year senior Carter Jones who also has a career-high 24 points off six goals and 18 assists. The Hillyard, Wash., native has blossomed this season and has surpassed his previous career high set last season by 11 points.

Jones has a point in all three playoff games posting a goal and two assists.

Senior Jackson Jutting follows and has 21 points (10g-11a) in 26 games. Since returning from injury on Feb. 2, the CCHA Co-Best Defensive Forward has 11 points (4g-7a) in 13 games.

Five of the Beavers’ top six scorers are all members of different lines/defensive pairings, a tribute to the Beavers’ scoring depth.

All four of the Beavers’ forward lines are averaging 1.40 points per game since solidifying their lineup during the Beavers’ unbeaten streak including their third and fourth lines who are averaging 2.00 and 2.38 points per game, respectively.

Bemidji State’s fourth line of freshman Rhys Chiddenton, Jake McLean and junior Donte Lawson has thrived despite seeing fourth-line ice time. That line has scored recorded at least a point in the last eight games and has scored a goal in four straight.

Freshman Jake McLean centers the line and leads them with 10 points off six goals and four assists and has played all 37 games as the fourth-line center.

Donte Lawson has had the hot hand as of late and as the line’s right winger, he has recorded a point over the last five games (2g-3a). In eight games where all three were playing together, the Beavers are 8-0-0.

Bemidji State’s most productive line, however, is its second line of Jones, Vaisanen and Flammang. That line averages has combined for 25 points (11g-15a) in 10 games averaging 2.50 points per game and Bemidji State is 9-0-1 when the three are paired together.

The Beavers’ defenseman have jumped in on offense as well and the pairings of Looft-Magnuson and Wolfe-Pohlkamp each average over a point per game. Since paired together at the start of the Beavers’ unbeaten streak, Wolfe and Pohlkamp have combined for 22 points (8g-14a) in 11 games averaging 2.00 points per game and the Beavers are 10-0-1 when the two are paired together. The Beavers’ top defensive pairing of Looft and Magnuson averages 1.04 points per game and have been paired together for 27 of the team’s 37 games. The Beavers are 17-9-1 when the two play together.

CCHA Goaltender of the Year Mattias Sholl has started 20 of the last 21 games in between the pipes after returning from injury. He is 14-7-2 on the season with three shutouts, a 2.50 goals against average and .909 save percentage and has won his last eight starts. His win percentage of .652 leads the CCHA and is 16th in Division I. Over the Beavers’ 11-game unbeaten streak, Sholl is 9-0-1 with a 1.87 GAA and .922 save percentage. In the playoffs, the Hermosa Beach, Calif., native is 3-0-0 with one shutout, a 1.67 goals against average and .924 save percentage.

2023-24 is the 68th season of Bemidji State Men’s Hockey and 25th in Division I. The Beavers are 1,191-699-152 (.620) in 67 seasons and 405-405-104 (.496) in Division I.

Head coach Tom Serratore is in his 23rd season at the helm of the Bemidji State Men’s Hockey program. He is 388-359-99 (.512) in his coaching career.

This is the 8th 20-win season for BSU in the D-1 era.