Prior to Saturday night, the Beavers had won eight in a row
(counting a technical tie, but winning on 3v3 OT), outscoring opponents 31 to 10,
including a 5-0 shutout against then #19 Northern Michigan. They’re being led
in scoring by senior Adam Brady, who posted 17 goals, 14 assists for 31 points
during the regular season. He is followed closely by sophomore forward Owen
Sillinger, who tallied a 12-18—30 point season and junior Aaron Miller with
Sophomore Zach Driscoll owns the net for Bemidji State, having played in all but 4 games this season, and posting 19 wins, 7 losses and 4 ties. He has only a 1.6 GAA and a .937 save %.
This team will be a tough nut to crack for the boys in blue,
since during the regular season the Lakers only took one game from the Beavers,
a 3v3 OT win at Abel Arena. Otherwise Bemidji outscored the Lakers 18-5.
The Lakers and
The Lakers have been locked in to the seventh seed for the
tail end of the season, but managed to finish the season fairly strong, winning
six of their last eight (including a SO win), and had a strong performance
against a bad Ferris State team to end the season, outscoring the Bulldogs 9-2
on the weekend.
Even though the Lakers have some big time scorers in Max
Humitz (19-13—32), Ashton Calder (12-14—26), Louis Boudon (6-20—26) and
Pierre-Luc Veillette (12-12—24), they’ll need to get some help on the backend
in order to make this weekend work. Our boys in blue will also need to be solid
on the blueline if they really want a shot at an upset.
As always, Mareks Mitens holds the keys for the net, though
Roman Bengert did tally a win in the final game of the season against the Bulldogs,
so if the series goes to three games, I wouldn’t be too shocked to see him out
there in relief.
If history counts for anything, these are going to be some
rough games. Save for last season, the Lakers have had a recent history of
either blowouts or shutouts. If they lose but keep the score close & low,
I’ll see it as a win, personally.
Puck Drops at 8:07 ET in Bemidji, Minnesota. The game can be
heard locally at 99.5 YESFM, or through TuneIn. Flohockey will have the video
broadcast, and if you are local to the Soo, Buffalo Wild Wings will be having
watch parties for the games this weekend.
First, let me congratulate all the teams that made it to the
WCHA tournament this year, from top to bottom. As for Ferris & Anchorage:
Better luck next year.
The Beavers from Bemidji has certainly had some interesting
series this year: Starting the year at #13 North Dakota and taking the first
game of the series, to splitting with Northern Michigan to start a 4-game
streak, sweeping Anchorage in the process and taking one against Merrimack.
Then: A four game losing skid, starting with Merrimack, heading into a series
against #2 St. Cloud State, before splitting with #3 Minnesota State. After this
start, we would see them splitting most series.
Going into the post season, they are led in scoring by
senior defenseman & co-captain Justin Baudry, with 8-22-30pts. Following
him are two forwards: sophomore Charlie Combs (11-10-21) and junior Adam Brady
(8-13-21). In addition to Combs, Aaron Miller and Owen Sillinger round out the
top 3 goal scorers.
Their goaltending situation is similar to that of the
Lakers: Zach Driscoll has been the go-to, with the freshman netminder playing
in 25 games & posting a 10-9-4 record with a 2.296 GAA and a .910 Save %.
Henry Johnson, a sophomore, has played 14 games, with an overall record of
5-5-2, with a 1.96 GAA and a .916 Save %. Jack Burgart has a single start &
posted a loss in that contest.
These two teams have met once before this season, on January
25th & 26th, with the Beavers losing Friday night
before winning 5-3 Saturday.
Lakers Face Familiar
Foes in Familiar Waters
Well, Laker fans, what a turnaround this series has been,
The fans at the Taffy Abel Arena were able to thank the outgoing
seniors and wish them off, in what would be their final regular season game…and
for the first time in a long time, not their final home game of the year. The
Lakers would go to split the weekend, and Senior Night was ruined with the loss
Your top scorers and goal-getters are of no surprise: They’ve
been the ones we’ve been talking about all season. Co-Captain Diego Cuglietta
leads the pack with 23-14-37pts and is currently only 4 points off the century
mark. Following him is fellow Senior & Assistant Captain Anthony Nellis,
with 14-17-31pts and Max Humitz with 14-16-30pts. Everyone wants to see Diego
hit that mark, but I hope the team does not try to feed him this weekend: winning
is much more important than an individual record.
Kossoff, again, owns the net. Playing in 23 contests, the
senior netminder has a 15-6-2 record, with a 2.53 GAA and a .913 Save %. Sophomore
Mareks Mittens did not play last weekend, so his 11 games & 6-5-0 record
and 2.31 GAA and .919 Save % remain unchanged.
The Lakers will have to play much better than they did the
last time they saw Bemidji, and better than we saw for most of Saturday night’s
game last week. They also cannot take any stupid penalties; the Beavers are too
good of a team to give them any help. Note: The winner of this series will go
on to face the winner of the Minnesota State-Alabama-Huntsville series.
Win or lose this weekend, we as fans should be proud of the
team, it’s been full of fun little tidbits & records: with 23 goals, Diego has
the most goals of any Laker since Joe Blaznek & Jason Sessa had 22 back in
1996-1997 season. Only one player since has even reached 20: Domenic Monardo. Staying
with Diego, he is tied for first in most goals in NCAA with Arizona State’s
Johnny Walker, & finally he is a Hobey Baker nominee.
With 21 wins on the season, Damon Whitten ties Jim Roque for
the most wins in the regular season since Jeff Jackson left the school. Roque
did it in 2006-2007, and Jackson posted 30 wins in his final season in
For the first time in program history, the Lakers took home
a Great Lakes Invitational win.
They have been ranked every week since January 7th.
The Lakers have had 17 players be named for either Player of
the Week or Player on the month between all categories:
The puck drops at 7:07pm Friday and Saturday nights. If a
third game is needed, it will be played at 4:07pm Sunday. Tickets are now
available at the box office or online. If you are in the area, or can make to
the arena, I implore you to, our boys will need all that energy. If you cannot
make it, or are too far away, turn your dials to 99.5 YESfm, or online at yesfm.net,
or use the Tunein App to listen to the game. Or you can watch the game online
for a fee using FloHockey.tv, which is the official source to view every WCHA
After an on-and-off start to the season, the Beavers of Bemidji has strung some big-time wins together, having split their weekend series at Bowling Green and sweeping Michigan Tech outside on Lake Bemidji last weekend, albeit with some extra time Friday night.
In an interesting turn, the Beavers are led in scoring by senior defenseman Justin Baudry with 19 points, though their leading goal scorers are a pair of sophomore forwards Aaron Miller (10g) and Charlie Combs (9g) .
Freshman Zach Driscoll and sophomore Henry Johnson seemed to have split more weekends, with Driscoll starting 15 games, and Johnson starting 13. GAA and Save % are nearly identical, though the freshman does have 2 more wins.
Lakers Leaning Towards the Light
With 10 series left before the post season, the Lakers have positioned themselves to be in the final spot for home ice this season. They have the tie breaker, as of now, on Michigan Tech, and are only a point ahead of their opponents this weekend. Through the USCHO poll, the Lakers are ranked #18, however through the Pairwise rankings, they are at #20. They’ll need to start a good run this weekend in order to break into the top 15, and a chance at an at-large bid.
Our top three scorers are the same as they’ve been for a while – led by captain Diego Cuglietta (17-7-24), Anthony Nellis (11-12-23) and Max Humitz (9-12-21). Diego is officially a point-a-game player, with Nellis being 1 point behind that mark, the same with Humitz going into the weekend.
The goaltending will be the story in the later half of the year. Nick Kosshoff has played in 16 games, with a record of 11-3-2, and Mareks Mitens following him with 8 games played and a 4-4-0 record, with all 4 of the wins being shutouts. This includes last weekend where Mareks made 29 saves. While I don’t think Nick has lost his net, I think Mareks is certainly lighting the fire – hopefully a bit of competition is a good thing.
Friday night, the Lakers will also try to battle domestic violence, providing a free t-shirt to the first 1000 fans so they can white-out the arena, so do try to come out to the arena this weekend to support your Lakers. However, if you can’t, it will be on over the air on 99.5 YESFm, streaming through Yesfm.net or through the TuneIn app. Flohockey.tv will have the video feed of the game.
This year’s WCHA standings are a bit of a surprise to everyone, arguably for the Bemidji State Beavers more than any other. The reigning MacNaughton Cup winners, and finishing second in the Broadmoor race started off a bit slow this season, getting above .500 in the two weeks before the Christmas break, sweeping both Alaska Anchorage & Alabama-Huntsville.
The Beavers are led by seniors Kyle Bauman and Gerry Fitzgerald as their scoring leaders – both have 20 points going into this weekend. Jay Dickman leads the team in goals, with 11, and also comes in third in overall scoring.
They are backstopped by senior Michael Bitzer, who has played in all but two games for Bemidji, posting a .910 Save % and a 2.26 GAA. If you remember to last season, Bitzer ended the 2016-2017 campaign as the #5 goalie in the nation, posting the most games played, games started & tied for total team games played. He also lead in minutes played, with 1389:26 & won the most games amongst goalies. He was also in a three way tie with total shutouts with 4. He ended the season with a 1.47 GAA and a .938 Save %. BSU will have to have an outstanding second half to allow Bitzer to reach those numbers once again.
“…you were never intended to live in the life raft, to drift years on end, in sight of land but never close enough.” – Nick Flynn
While I can’t speak for any other Laker fan, I was hoping that the boys in blue would put up a good showing at the Three Rivers Classic, hosted by Robert Morris University & use it as a launching pad for the rest of the season. Sadly, that did not happen.
The Lakers opened up the weekend against the hosts Robert Morris University Friday night. To say it was disappointing would be a huge understatement. RMU shutout Lake State 5-0, scoring three goals against Mareks Mitens in the first period, and finishing off with two against Nick Kossoff in the second. The Colonials would outshoot the Lakers in the first alone 17-4, ending the night 38-19.
Now while these stats look bad, the tape looks worse. The team left Mitens out there all alone in the first, with a defense even more porous that what we’ve been seeing of late.
While the consolation game against the Arizona State Sun Devils would have a different result, they were largely outplayed – Nick Kossoff would stop 48 of 49 goals, however ASU goalie Ryland Pashovitz would only stop 17 of 20 total shots.
This team needs a change of heart, otherwise they will end the month, which marks their last home game, with playing in an empty arena and no hope for the playoffs. As of right now, the Lakers are on the outside looking in: two games behind both Alaska and Alabama-Huntsville. If they can get on a run, there is a shot at making the playoffs.
But all of that could be for naught if the coaching staff can’t get the locker room back, and from my vantage point, it doesn’t look likely that it will happen, which is a shame as I still maintain that, on paper, this could be the most talented group of players we’ve seen in a while, based off of their previous years with the Lakers, or with their recent Juniors results.
January will be the make it or break it month for Lake State: if they cannot start closing the gap, they will miss the playoffs, and I believe that the tone for this month will be set this weekend against Bemidji. Puck drops both Friday & Saturday at 7:07pm. They can be heard locally on 99.5 YesFM, online at www.yesfm.net, or on the TuneIn app. For those fans not in the area, or cannot make it to the arena but still want to watch the action, both games will be available on www.WCHA.tv.