MEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers ride five-game unbeaten streak into UAH series

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men's hockey team entered the holiday break on a high note following a home sweep over Western Collegiate Hockey Association foe Alaska Anchorage Dec. 15-16.


BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men’s hockey team entered the holiday break on a high note following a home sweep over Western Collegiate Hockey Association foe Alaska Anchorage Dec. 15-16.

Now, the Beavers will hope to extend their five-game unbeaten streak when they welcome longtime rival Alabama Huntsville to the Sanford Center this weekend for a pair of 7:07 p.m. matchups tonight and Saturday, Dec. 30.

“We were definitely getting on a roll at the end there,” said senior forward Gerry Fitzgerald, who is tied for 10th in the WCHA with 16 points (4g-12a). “We have to keep playing the same kind of hockey and that’s using our speed and being really good down low and bringing the puck to the box in front of the net.”

The streak began with a trio of ties to Bowling Green and Northern Michigan, but BSU finally had some luck on its side to earn two wins over UAA. The sweep let the Beavers (7-6-5, 4-4-4-2 WCHA) climb to a tie for sixth in the WCHA standings at 18 points apiece with the Chargers (6-12-2, 5-7-2-1 WCHA) ahead of their tilt this weekend.

“Obviously we had our back against the wall going into that Anchorage series and I thought our guys played really well,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “We needed the six points and that moved us obviously into the middle of the pack in the standings. We’ve got some games in hand so I think that was a great pick-me-up for the guys. But those games in hand aren’t any good unless you win.”


Along with Anchorage, Bemidji State has played the fewest league games (12) of any WCHA team. The Beavers sit just a point back of fifth-place Ferris State, and with games in hand on all the teams ahead of them, will have a chance to gain some ground against UAH.

Hometown product Josh Kestner has blossomed as a senior for the Chargers this season. The Huntsville, Ala. native has already scored a career-high 12 goals, tying him for seventh in the country and second in the WCHA.

“The biggest thing with (UAH) is that they’re an experienced team right now,” Serratore said. “They play with a lot of pace, they’re getting good goaltending and you just take a look at some of their older guys have really taken a step.”

Thanks to a scheduling quirk, the Chargers are in the middle of a 12-game road stretch. UAH is 1-4-1-1 so far on the trip and was most recently swept by Minnesota State Dec. 15-16, losing 5-1 and 3-0.

“They’ve had a really rough schedule,” Serratore said. “The first half they’ve been on the road a lot and they’re going to be at home (a lot in) the second half. We almost have the opposite schedule as Huntsville.”

The Beavers won’t be seeing as much of the Sanford Center in the second half of the season. After this weekend, BSU will play seven of its next eight games on the road with 11 of their final 16 games away from Bemidji.

“It’s nice being at home, but again, that’s going to end soon too and we’re going to have a pretty rough road stretch,” Serratore said. “But it doesn’t get any easier. That’s just conference play.”

Leading scorer Kyle Bauman (6g-13a--19 points, T-5th in WCHA) reiterated how important it is for the team to pick up where it left off as the season’s second half begins.


“Like Gerry was saying, we need to get on a little streak here, Bauman said, “and have a good second semester and take that into playoffs.”

Leo Fitzgerald expected to return Senior Leo Fitzgerald is expected to return to the lineup this weekend after recovering from an upper body injury.

Fitzgerald has not seen game action since an Oct. 21 loss to Air Force. The forward played in the team’s first four games and scored a goal in the season opener against Minnesota Duluth.

Saulnier to miss series Alabama Huntsville senior forward Brennan Saulnier will miss this weekend’s series at Bemidji State due to a two-game suspension he received from the WCHA Dec. 18.

The suspension is a result of Saulnier's five-minute major penalty and game misconduct infraction for contact to the head – elbowing, which occurred late in the third period of the Chargers’ Dec. 16 game at Minnesota State.

Saulnier is tied for third on the team with 11 points (7g-4a) in 20 games played.

Austin Monteith is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of Bloomington, Ill., he is a 2015 graduate of Butler University. Follow him on Twitter at @amonteith92. Contact the Pioneer sports department at
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