BEMIDJI -- This weekend is one that Bemidji State hockey fans have had circled on their calendars since the schedule was announced last spring.
The Beaver men’s hockey team will rekindle a nearly 50-year-old rivalry with North Dakota this weekend for a nonconference series at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. Friday’s game is set for 7:37 p.m., with Saturday’s at 7:07 p.m.
The Fighting Hawks hold a 31-4-6 advantage all-time in the series dating back to 1970. Recent meetings have tended to be nail-biters, however, with 11 of the last 17 contests being decided by one goal or less. BSU is 3-3-5 in such games, including a 2-1 win in Bemidji last year that was followed by a 1-1 tie in Grand Forks one night later.
The Beavers are coming off a two-tie opening series with then-No. 7 St. Cloud State two weeks ago before having this past weekend off. The Huskies erased a 4-0 deficit in the third period to force a tie in game one, while BSU did the same the next night by scoring two third-period goals to earn a 2-2 tie.
“Obviously, we’ve still got some things to learn,” said Nick Leitner, who scored the tying goal Saturday. “On Friday night we kind of threw away that game. But obviously Saturday we were the team that came from behind and I think that just kind of shows we can play with anybody in the country.”
Bemidji State will now face a nationally ranked NCHC opponent for the second straight series. No. 16 North Dakota swept Canisius at home to open the season before drawing 4-4 and losing 2-1 to No. 2 Minnesota State in Mankato last weekend.
“We have to make sure we play with a lot of pace,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “I thought we did that against St. Cloud. We’ve just got to keep reinforcing some of the good things that we’re doing. We’ve got to play with pace, we’ve got pressure the puck. If we keep doing that, we’re going to be tough to play against.”
Armour nets first collegiate goal
Leitner wasn’t the only Beaver to notch his first collegiate goal against St. Cloud State.
Ross Armour netted career goal number one in the series opener. The sophomore forward from Trail, B.C., grabbed a pass from Ethan Somoza and skated past two defenders on a partial breakaway to put the Beavers up 2-0 in the second period.
“That was pretty cool,” Armour said. “It took me a while, but I finally got her, so it was nice.”
Armour tallied 12 assists as a freshman last year. After dishing out so many helpers, he finally found himself on the receiving end of one.
“That felt really good,” he said. “Somoza made a really nice pass to me off the boards there and I was lucky to get that in.”
At a glance
Who: BSU at North Dakota
Where: Grand Forks, N.D.
When: 7:37 p.m. Friday; 7:07 p.m. Saturday
Radio: Beaver Radio Network