The 13th/14th (depending on the poll) ranked Denver Pioneers (6-4-2) and the Bemidji State Beavers (2-5-1) face off at Magness Arena this weekend. The Pioneers have only played the Beavers five times winning all five games. With four of those wins coming since Bemidji became a Division I hockey program back in the 1999-2000 season. The most recent match-ups between the two clubs have been close, including the 2005 NCAA Division I Hockey Tournament when the Pioneers defeated the Beavers 4-3 in overtime. Denver would go on to claim its seventh national title that season. This is Bemidji’s first season in the WCHA.
Last weekend, Bemidji State split with University of Alaska Anchorage at the Bemidji Regional Event Center. Losing 5-4 on Friday night and winning 4-0 Saturday. Denver took four points from Minnesota State last weekend. During the weekend Anthony Maiani joined the 100 point club for Denver with a goal and two assists on Saturday night, becoming its 92nd member. Senior walk-on goalie Josh Rosenholtz also received some ice time. Josh has other skills to go along with hockey.
Bemidiji is led by senior forward Matt Read, who is tied for the team’s lead in scoring with 11 points (7g, 4a). Sophomore Jordan George also has 11 points (4g, 7a) and junior defenseman Brad Hunt leads the team with eight assists. The goaltending is shared by Dan Bakala (1-4-0, 3.57 GAA, .871 Save %) and Mathieu Dugas (1-1-1, 1.95 GAA, .922 Sv%). Bemidji’s Head coach is Tom Serratore who has posted 165-133-34 record in his ten seasons with the Beavers. Bemidji State’s is converting their power play at a 20.6% rate while their penalty kill is only 74.5%. DU has slowly improved on its power play going 6-for-20 on the power play during the past four games and is currently 8-for-55. Their defensive focus has been much better killing penalties at a 84.5% rate. Drew Shore and David Makowski lead the Pios with two power play goals each.
On the injury side of things, Dustin Jackson (mono) is questionable and John Lee (hand) is doubtful. Mike Chambers has more on his blog.
Freshman David Makowski joined in on the accolades when he took home the WCHA Red Baron Rookie of the Week honor. Sam Brittan and Luke Salazar were also nominated.
College Hockey News has a nice write-up on junior forward Luke Salazar.
The Pios need another sweep this weekend to keep the momentum going in their quest for a postseason birth. Both Theresa Spisak and Tyler Buckentine who write a WCHA blog over at USCHO.com have predicted a Pioneer sweep.