Weekend Preview: Bemidji State

Go Gophers!
Tom Serratore's uncle, Tom, coaches Bemidji State.

Go Gophers!
Tom Serratore's uncle, Tom, coaches Bemidji State.
Go Gophers!

Minnesota To Honor 2002 Championship Team Saturday Video: Lucia l Guentzel l Potulny

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Feb. 15: Nick Larson Q&A l Gophers Talk About Playing Bemidji State

Feb. 16: Q&A With Bemidji State Beat Writer

Bemidji State at No. 7 Minnesota

Date: February 17-18, 2012
Time: 7 p.m. CT (both games) 
Location: Mariucci Arena (10,000)
History: Minnesota leads 8-1-1
Television: FOX Sports North Plus (Friday) and FOX Sports North (Saturday)
Radio: 1500 ESPN (Friday) and 95.3 FM (Saturday)
Live Blog: GopherSports.com
Twitter:
@GoldenGopherHky
Facebook: facebook.com/GoldenGopherHockey

Last Time Out: Minnesota dropped both games at Denver last weekend. The Pioneers won 5-3 on Friday and 4-3 in overtime on Saturday. Zach Budish had two goals on the weekend, while Nate Condon, Erik Haula, Kyle Rau and Nico Sacchetti also scored. Senior goaltender Kent Patterson made a combined 66 saves on the weekend.

Minnesota Vs. Bemidji State: This weekend, Bemidji State will come to Mariucci Arena to play the Gophers as a member of the WCHA for the first time. The last time the Beavers visited Minnesota was on Nov. 15-16, 2009 when UM handed then-No. 7 Bemidji State its first loss of the season before BSU earned the split with its first victory against the Gophers all-time. Last season, the two teams concluded regular-season play with a weekend series at Bemidji State. After tying 2-2 on the first night, Minnesota earned a 3-2 overtime win in the series finale. The Gophers are 8-1-1 all-time against BSU with a 6-1-0 ledger at home. Having lost to Denver last Saturday, Minnesota will be facing the Beavers coming off of a loss for the first time.

About The Beavers: After a 4-8-1 start, Bemidji State has been one of the WCHA’s hottest teams, going 10-4-2 since beginning of December. Last week, the Beavers followed up a three-point weekend at Nebraska Omaha by avenging an early-season road sweep at the hands of Colorado College by beating the Tigers 4-2 and 4-1 at home. BSU is now 15-12-3 overall with a 9-10-3 WCHA mark, good for a tie for eighth place in the conference with St. Cloud. The Beavers are led offensively by junior Jordan George’s 25 points (15g-10a). George is followed by senior defenseman Brad Hunt (4g-17a) and senior forward Shea Walters (10g-10a). Aside from Hunt, Bemidji State is led defensively by freshman Matt Prapavessis (0g-10a) and juniors Brady Wacker (4g-5a) and Jake Areshenko (2g-6a). Prapavessis leads BSU with a +9 plus/minus rating and Areshenko has a team-high 46 penalty minutes. In goal, senior starter Dan Bakala has gone 9-7-2 with a 2.48 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. His backup, freshman Andrew Walsh, is 6-4-1 with a 2.37 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. Bakala and Walsh backstop the Beavers’ penalty kill, which leads the WCHA with an 84.8 percent efficiency.

In The Polls: The 19-11-1 Gophers are ranked No. 7 in both the USCHO poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll. This week marks the first time that Minnesota has been ranked outside the top five in both major polls since Oct. 24. Minnesota, which has spent two weeks as the No. 1 team in the USCHO  poll and four weeks at No. 1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll, began the year No. 19 in the USCHO.com poll and was unranked in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.

Leading The Way: The Gophers are 15-7-0 in WCHA play and have a league-leading 30 points. Minnesota Duluth is second with a 13-6-3 record and 29 points. Minnesota owns the tie-breaker against Minnesota Duluth, as the Gophers swept the Bulldogs on the road earlier this season. This week’s opponent, Bemidji State is tied for eighth in the league with 21 points (9-10-3).

Chasing The Cup: Minnesota is chasing its first MacNaughton Cup since 2006-07 when the Gophers finished with 39 points at 18-7-3 in the WCHA. That season was also the last time Minnesota finished with 15 or more wins in league play, the number it currently has with six games remaining. The Gophers are guaranteed to finish with a winning record in the WCHA and overall. They need 10 more points to finish with more league points that they had in 2006-07.

Minnesota Nice: The Gophers host in-state rival Bemidji State this weekend. Minnesota is 7-1-0 against other Minnesota schools this season. They are 3-1-0 against St. Cloud State and 2-0-0 against Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State.

Looking To Bounce Back: The Gophers dropped two game at Denver last weekend and were swept for the first time all season. The last time Minnesota was swept in the regular season prior to last weekend was Dec. 3-4, 2010 at Minnesota State. The Gophers lost 3-2 and 2-1 in Mankato.

Seeking 20: Minnesota has six more regular season games to play this year, but has already won more games this season then it has in the last three years. The Gophers, who are tied for second in the nation with 19 wins, won 16 games in 2010-11, 18 games in 2009-10 and 17 games in 2008-09. They won 19 games during the 2007-08 season. The last time Minnesota won 20 or more games was during the 2006-07 campaign when it finished the year with 31 victories.

Saturday Setback: Saturday’s 4-3 overtime setback in Denver was Minnesota’s first WCHA loss on a Saturday this season. The Gophers are now 10-1-0 in Saturday WCHA games this year. They are 11-3-1 in all Saturday contests this season.

Free Hockey: Minnesota played its fourth overtime game of the season last Saturday at Denver. The Pioneers scored 17 seconds into the extra session to win 4-3. The Gophers are now 1-2-1 in overtime games this year. They won at Minnesota Duluth and tied at Michigan State. In addition to Saturday’s loss, the Gophers also fell in overtime at home to Michigan Tech.

Close Encounters: The Gophers are 19-11-1 on the season. Of their 11 defeats, nine have been by one goal (including two in overtime). Minnesota’s other two setbacks were by only two goals. The Gophers lost 3-1 at Wisconsin on Nov. 11 and 5-3 at Denver on Feb. 11. Minnesota has played in 16 one-goal games this year and is 7-9-0 in those games. The record for one-goal games in a season is 18, which happened in 2006-07. Minnesota has played 17 one-goal games in two different seasons and 16 one-goal games in four different seasons.

114 Goals: Minnesota has scored 114 goals through 31 games this year and still has six games to play in the regular season. The Gophers scored 113 goals all of last season (36 games). The 114 goals are the most that Minnesota has scored in one season since they tallied 119 goals in 37 games in the 2008-09 season. The last time Minnesota score more than 119 goals was the 2006-07 season when they tallied 161 goals in 44 games. 

Winning Month?: Minnesota has begun February, like it did January, with an 0-2-0 record. The Gophers have four more games this month to record a winning record. They finished January with a 4-3-0 record and have had a winning record every month this season. Minnesota was 7-1-0 in October, 4-3-1 in November, 4-2-0 in December and 4-3-0 in January.

Potent Offense, Stingy Defense: The Gophers have the second best offense and defense in the nation. Minnesota averages 3.68 goals-per-game (Minnesota Duluth leads with a 3.70 average). The Gophers allow only 2.19 goals a game, which is tied for fourth in the nation. (Union leads with a 1.80 goals-against-average).

52 Straight: Dating back to 2010-11, Kent Patterson has started 52 straight games for Minnesota. Since taking over as the team's starting goaltender full-time in place of Alex Kangas on Dec. 4, 2010, Patterson has gone 27-19-6 and has recorded a school record six shutouts in 2011-12. He has played every minute in net for the Gophers this season and leads the nation with 19 wins. His next win will make him the first goaltender to reach 20 wins in a season since Kellen Briggs went 21-6-3 in 2005-06. Hobey Baker winner Robb Stauber, cousin of current Gopher Tom Serratore, has the school's single-season record for wins. He had 34 in 44 games played 1987-88.

Playing Every Minute: Goaltender Kent Patterson has played every minute in net for the Gophers this year. He is second in the country in minutes played with 1857:03 in 31 games. Andrew Hammond of Bowling Green has played 1861:49 minutes in 32 games. Dating back to last season, Patterson has played 3132:55 consecutive minutes in net for the Gophers.

Condon Shorthanded: Sophomore Nate Condon has nine goals this year, but four of them are shorthanded. He is one shorthanded goal away from tying the single-season school record. Peter Hankinson (1989-90) and Steve Griffith (1982-83) each had five. Condon is second nationally is shorthanded goals behind Austin Smith of Colgate (6). Condon has scored shorthanded goals at Alaska Anchorage, against Northeastern, at North Dakota and against Colorado College.

Super Sophomores: Minnesota’s sophomore class has led the way for the Gophers this year. The Maroon and Gold have 303 points this year and the sophomore class has 175 of those points (57.7 percent). The sophomores have 63 goals and 112 assists on the year. Bjugstad leads the way with 34 points and is followed by Erik Haula (31), Nate Schmidt (28), Budish (25), Condon (24), Mark Alt (18), Justin Holl (9), Tom Serratore (3) and Jake Parenteau (3). Chris Student, who has played in one game this year, is the only sophomore skater who does not have a point this season.

Positive News: Sophomore Nate Schmidt is tied for third in the nation with a +21 rating, while freshman Kyle Rau is seventh at +19.  

Schmidt Assists: Sophomore Nate Schmidt leads the team and ranks tied for sixth in the nation with 26 assists. His 26 helpers are the most by a Gopher blueliner since Mike Vannelli had 29 assists in 44 games during the 2006-07 season.

Condon Shorthanded: Sophomore Nate Condon has nine goals this year, but four of them are shorthanded. He is one shorthanded goal away from tying the single-season school record. Peter Hankinson (1989-90) and Steve Griffith (1982-83) each had five. Condon is second nationally is shorthanded goals behind Austin Smith of Colgate (6). Condon has scored shorthanded goals at Alaska Anchorage, against Northeastern, at North Dakota and against Colorado College.

A Big Difference: Minnesota is outscoring its opponents 114-68 this season. The Gophers have outscored opponents 34-18 in the first period and 42-17 in the third period.