MEN'S HOCKEY: After outstanding debut, BSU freshman goalie Wilkins named WCHA rookie of the week; will start Friday
BEMIDJI — After his outstanding college debut last weekend, the Bemidji State men’s hockey team is going to keep relying on goaltender Jesse Wilkins.
Wilkins, a freshman from Calgary, made 75 saves in two Western Collegiate Hockey Association games in a hostile environment at Michigan Tech. His performance in net helped the Beavers settle for a pair of 2-2 ties both Friday and Saturday and earned the freshman WCHA Rookie of the Week honors.
But perhaps most importantly, it earned him another shot at starting in goal.
Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said Tuesday that Wilkins will start this Friday’s game against Alaska at the Sanford Center.
“He played so well last weekend that we’re going to go with the hot hand,” Serratore said. “I think you have to go with him. he delivered last weekend and you have to go with him.”
Wilkins last saw action in early 2013 in junior hockey for the Melfort Mustang of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. He hadn’t seen any playing time since coming to BSU but was a surprise starter for Friday night’s game in Houghton, Mich. BSU head coach Tom Serratore said that normal starter Andrew Walsh didn’t dress due to “coaches’ discretion,” which meant Wilkins not only dressed but got the start.
“I found out that morning before pregame skate,” Wilkins said. “I didn’t know I was dressing, so it was a bit of a shock.”
Still, Wilkins didn’t seem to be bothered by the hostile atmosphere in his first college game.
“It was pretty fun actually,” Wilkins said. “The band was pretty loud and you’re definitely into the game when you’re on the ice there. It’s hard to not be.”
“He saw the puck well and looked very calm in the net, “ Serratore added. “He smothered pucks well. He looked like a wily veteran in there.”
This weekend the Beavers (5-8-5, 5-4-2 WCHA) host Alaska in the final series before the holiday break. Wilkins is glad to get the preparation time for Friday’s contest.
“It’s always good to know you’re going to be starting,” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing on home ice and seeing the fans. It’ll be fun.”