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Bemidji State men's hockey: Breaking down the Midwest Region

Should Bemidji State and Miami win Saturday, it would set up a rematch from earlier this season. Tyler Lehrke and BSU defeated Miami 3-2 in November. Pioneer File Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji State men's hockey team returns to the national stage this weekend, traveling to Fort Wayne, Ind. to play in the NCAA Midwest Regional.

The Beavers open play against Michigan at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Miami and the University of Alabama-Huntsville open regional play at 3 p.m.

The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum is the Fort Wayne Area's leading sports, entertainment and event venue. The facility originally opened in 1952, expanded in 1992 and renovated in 2002.

The renovation included raising the roof 41 feet, 10 inches. The facility now holds nearly 13,000 people with 24 luxury suites.

The Coliseum is host to four sports teams, the Fort Wayne Komets of the International Hockey League, the Indiana-Purdue University men's basketball team, the Mad Ants of the NBA development League and the FireHawks.


No. 1 seed

Record: 27-7-7, 21-5-2 CCHA, first place

Qualified for NCAA: At-large berth, No. 1 overall seed

NCAA appearances: Eight, runner up 2009

NCAA DI Championships: None

Record vs. BSU this year: 0-1-0

Head coach: Enrico Blasi

Key players: Senior forward Jarod Palmer leads the team in scoring with 45 points (18-27--45); junior forward Andy Miele leads the team in assists and as second overall in scoring (15-29--44); and junior forward Tommy Wingels also topped the 40 point mark (17-25--42). Carter Camper finished just off the 40 point mark (15-23--38).

In goal the RedHawks feature the top 1-2 goalie combination in the country.

Sophomore Cody Reichard, a Hobey Baker finalist, has started 24 games and features an 18-4-3 record with a 1.79 goals against average and .924 save percentage.

Connor Knapp made 17 starts and features a record of 9-3-4 with a 1.88 goals against average and .921 save percentage.

About Miami: The RedHawks spent the vast majority of the 2009-10 season as the top rated team in the country. Miami clinched the CCHA regular season title with five games left to play.

Miami is known as a big and physical team that employs a shut down defense. The RedHawks are tied for first in the nation defensively, allowing an average of just 1.85 goals per game, and are fifth on the penalty kill at 86.9 percent.

The RedHawks also feature a formidable offense, sitting eighth nationally (3.44 goals per game). The balanced scoring with four players at 38 or more points makes it tough for opposing teams to focus on just one line.

Weakness: The RedHawks are the second most penalized team in the nation, due in large part to the physical nature of their play. If teams can break through on power play opportunities they have an advantage. Miami was beaten by Michigan 5-2 in the CCHA playoff semifinals and starting goalie Cody Reichard was pulled. That's not much of a weakness, however, nice he was replaced by a goalie the caliber of Knapp.

No. 2 seed

Bemidji State University Beavers

Record: 23-9-4, 14-3-1 CHA

Qualified for NCAA: At-large berth; eighth overall

NCAA DI championships: None

Record vs. Regional teams this year: 1-00 vs. Miami, 5-0-1 vs. UAH, 0-0-0 vs. Michigan

Head coach: Tom Serratore

Key players: Junior Matt Read, the CHA Player of the Year, paced the team in scoring with 19 goals and 21 assists for 40 points. Freshman Jordan George ended with 13-21--24 to rank in a tie for fifth nationally in rookie scoring. Junior Ian Lowe led the team in goals with 20. Sophomore Brad Hunt paces the defense with 7-26--33, ranking fifth nationally.

Sophomore Dan Bakala has been the mainstay in net, finishing with a record of 19-7-3, a 2.27 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.

About BSU: The Beavers followed up a 2009 Frozen Four appearance with a school record tying 23 win season this year. The Beavers dominated the final regular season of College Hockey America play, wrapping up the title in February.

The Beavers top line of Lowe-Read and George accounted for nearly 41 percent of the team's total. But the Beavers had two additional players in Ben Kinne and Ryan Cramer with 10 or more goals.

The Beavers ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 2.28 goals per game. The offense ranked sixth nationally scoring an average of 3.53 goals.

Weakness: The Beavers ended the season 2-2-2, perhaps showing the effects of a brutal second half schedule that saw the team play 13 of 18 on the road.

No. 3 seed

Michigan Wolverines

Record: 25-17-1, 14-13-1 CCHA

Qualified for NCAA: CCHA champion, 12th overall seed

NCAA appearances: 33, 2008 Frozen Four

NCAA DI championships: Nine, most in the nation

Record vs. BSU: 0-0-0, first meeting ever

Head coach: Gordon "Red" Berenson

Key players: Carl Hagelin, a teammate of BSU's Emil Bilberg while both were playing in Sweden, led the Wolverines in scoring with 17-30--47. Louie Caporusso also broke the 40 point mark at 20-21--41.

Bryan Hogan was the top goalie for the majority of the season before being injured Feb. 25. Shawn Hunwick took over and is 7-1-0 since then. He went 6-0-0 through the CCHA playoffs with a 1.50 goals against average and a .930 save percentage.

About Michigan: The Wolverines have qualified for the last 20 NCAA Tournaments, the longest streak in the nation. Michigan was left for dead, ending the regular season 19-17-1 and seventh in the CCHA regular season. But the Wolverines blasted through the CCHA playoffs, beating Lake Superior State, Michigan State, Miami and Northern Michigan to claim the title and the auto-bid.

During the streak the Wolverines allowed an average of just 1.5 goals per game, while scoring an average of 4.6.

Weakness: The Wolverines have lost in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in three of the last four years. Last year Michigan was defeated by Air Force in the regional opener.

No. 4 seed

University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers

Record: 12-17-3, 6-10-2 CHA

Qualified for NCAA: CHA champion, 16th seed overall

NCAA appearances: Two

NCAA DI championships: None

Record vs. BSU this year: 0-5-1

Head coach: Danton Cole

Key players: The marquee player for UAH has been junior goalie Cameron Talbot. He ended the year 12-17-3 with a 2.62 goals against average and .924 save percentage (sixth nationally). Sophomore Cody Campbell tied for the team lead in scoring with eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points. Junior Andrew Coburn also ended with 22 points (7-15--2) with freshman Matti Jarvinen third (5-13--18).

About UAH: The Chargers gave Notre Dame a go in the Chargers only other NCAA Tournament appearance two years ago, falling in double overtime. They qualified for the tournament by defeating Robert Morris 1-0 and Niagara 32- in overtime.

UAH lives and dies with Talbot. Head coach Danton Cole has established a tough defensive system that the Chargers utilize with Talbot as the centerpiece. The goalie has the ability to steal games on his own.

Weakness: The Chargers have struggled to score all year, averaging just 2.5 goals per game, which ranks 52nd nationally. The Chargers hope to keep games low scoring and capitalize on opponent's mistakes. It's a major question mark, however, if the Chargers can score three goals in a pressure cooker NCAA Tournament game against a high quality team like Miami.