Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Bemidji State in the driver's seat but plenty of of movement remains in final CCHA series

Bowling Green solidified home ice for the playoffs while idle last weekend but its guests this weekend have a fight on their hands and a red-hot offense ready to storm Slater Family Ice Arena.

022223.S.BP.BSUMHKY2 Adam Flammang.jpg
Bemidji State freshman Adam Flammang celebrates after scoring during the first period against Minnesota State on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

It's the final week of the regular season in the CCHA and with first place at stake in Mankato and other teams vying for home ice, the matchups this weekend will decide where teams will fall for the first round of the CCHA playoffs.

Northern Michigan at Bowling Green

Bowling Green solidified home ice for the playoffs while idle last weekend but its guests this weekend have a fight on their hands and a red-hot offense ready to storm Slater Family Ice Arena.

Coming off a 17-goal weekend against Ferris State, Northern Michigan caught the Bulldogs in the standings and are tied for fifth place, both three points behind Bemidji State.

Northern Michigan and Ferris State are hoping St. Thomas can help them out. But Northern Michigan has a unique edge in all of this: If there is a three-way tie, the Wildcats own the tiebreaker on head-to-head wins and could claim home ice under that scenario.

It’s a late-season fire the Wildcats, now 4-1 in their last five games, hopes to keep burning.


“Momentum is a funny thing,” Northern Michigan head coach Grant Potulny said. “It’s like confidence, it's hard to put your finger on it when you have it or how you got it. And but when you have it, you feel a little bit taller and you play a lot more sure of yourself and momentum just kind of continues to build and we need to make sure that, even though those games are done, we keep our momentum for the weekend.”

The Falcons lead the league with 3.31 goals per game and the Wildcats are third at 3.13.

It could be an offensive showdown in Ohio.

“It should be a really entertaining series with a lot of offensive talent,” Bowling Green head coach Ty Eigner said.

Bowling Green’s Austen Swankler leads the league in points (40) and his 17 goals are second behind Minnesota State’s David Silye (20).

“They have probably the player of the year in our league,” Polulny said of Swankler.

Northern Michigan ranks fourth in the league in goals allowed (2.88) and Bowling Green is fifth (3.13). The Wildcats are the CCHA’s top shot-blocking team with 529 so far this season and feature the top two players in Aiden Gallacher (90 blocks) and Michael Van Unen (69).

Bowling Green is 9-7-1 at home this season and split at Northern Michigan (second game a 4-3 overtime loss) in the season-opening series. All time, the Falcons own a 58-57-11 record against the Wildcats.


Knowing that there are more games to be played at Slater, regardless of the outcome, Eigner expects the Falcons’ home arena, which has averaged 2,736 fans this season, to be lively.

“I know the players really really enjoy it,” Eigner said. “They look forward to playing in front of the student section. They want the crowd to be engaged. You know we've said this before with some of our opponents coming in, even we believe that they enjoy playing here because of the crowd, right?”

Game times are 6:07 p.m. CT both Friday and Saturday.

Prediction: Series split

Lake Superior State at Ferris State

Ferris State picked the wrong time to go into a slump, having lost its last three games by a combined 23-7. And to boot, cellar-dwelling Lake Superior State is 4-5-0 in its previous nine but remains last in the CCHA in scoring at 1.94 goals per game.

The Bulldogs fell to a league-worst in goals allowed at 3.53 after being swept by Northern Michigan. Lake Superior State is second-worst at 3.31.

“We’ve got some hard work to do in practice and we have to exorcise a few of those demons and there’s no way to talk yourself out of it,” Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels said. “There’s only one way to get out of it and that’s going to be a lot of hard work this weekend.”

Ferris State and Lake Superior State are two of the three lowest scoring teams in the conference.


Ferris State is led by Jason Brancheau’s 11 goals, 15th overall in the CCHA. Stepan Pokorny is 30th in the league with 19 points in 31 games.

Roy Harrison leads the Lakers in goals with 10 (18th in the CCHA) and Jacob Bengtsson is 23rd in points with 20.

Game times are 6:07 p.m. CT Friday, and with senior night, an early 4:07 p.m. CT Saturday start.

Prediction: Ferris State sweep

Keith Paulsen has been the video coach for the Minnesota Wild's top affiliate in Iowa since 2016.
Toledo, Ohio, native has a 3.81 GPA majoring in sports management with a marketing minor.
The Woodbury, Minnesota, native Hunt replaces Kevin Langseth, who is stepping down at the end of May.
Four months before the Mavs will take the ice for their first practice, new MSU Mankato men's coach Luke Strand has alumni and the community excited about building on past successes with new faces.
Troy Ward brings a lengthy resume and a ton of familiarity to Mankato as he and Luke Strand reunite behind the Minnesota State bench
Joey Delgreco earns 2 top honors, Vikings recruit takes home Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's top honor after leading league in GAA, save percentage. Will Howard of New Mexico named all-division
Picked by the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL draft, Buesgens is still trying to figure out his senior year plan.
The Vikings men's hockey team will open its inaugural season in October. The first home games at Midco are scheduled against Ferris State on Jan. 26-27, 2024.
Augustana will play Bowling Green in the first conference series of the season on Oct. 14-15 in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Vikings will begin inaugural season at Premier Center while construction on Midco Arena is finished

No. 11 Michigan Tech at No. 12 Minnesota State

Call it the “Showdown at Mayo” as these two teams are separated by just two points in the standings. With 49 points, conference leader Minnesota State (20-11-1, 15-8-1 CCHA) has the edge over the Huskies (21-8-4, 14-6-4).

Game times are 7:07 p.m. CT Friday and 6:07 p.m. CT Saturday.

Prediction: Series split


A few roadbumps throughout the season for Minnesota State and Michigan Tech's rise to the top have a showdown for the conference title brewing this weekend.

Bemidji State (RV) at St. Thomas

Bemidji State is 2-5 in its last seven games but last Saturday against then-No. 13 Minnesota State, Kyle Looft righted the Beavers and kept them controlling their own destiny for home ice in the playoffs.

Two wins this weekend would keep fourth-place Bemidji State at Sanford Center, avoiding any tiebreaking scenario that may not favor the Beavers. But that’s looking in the rear-view mirror at Northern Michigan and Ferris State. The Beavers could move up to third place in the conference with a sweep and help to overtake Bowling Green. That scenario is pegged at 21%, according to playoffstatus.com .

“There's just a lot on the line for everybody,” Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said. “The game in Mankato for the championship, obviously we're playing for home ice. There's teams that are trying to get home ice behind us. So there's just a lot at stake for a lot of different teams right now.”

Looft’s overtime winner lifted the Beavers to an 11-10-3 conference mark and gave them a 3-1 mark against the Mavericks, national runners-up a season ago.

St. Thomas enters 9-13-2 in the CCHA and trails fifth-place Northern Michigan and Ferris State by four points.

“This is a team that has won a lot of hockey games the second half of the year,” Serratore said of St. Thomas. “They're a team that's been extremely good in their own building.”

In early December, the Beavers pulled out a five-point weekend at home against St. Thomas with Mack Byers scoring four times for the Tommies over the weekend.


“A lot of good hockey, a lot of them forcing us to make mistakes and us trying to force them to make mistakes,” Tommies head coach Rico Blasi recalled this week of that December series. “I know Tom will have his guys ready. And certainly we need to be ready to go, they’re playing really well right now with some really solid games against Mankato.”

Game times are 7:07 p.m. CT Friday and 6:07 CT Saturday at St. Thomas Ice Arena.

Prediction: Bemidji State sweep

Rob Beer is the digital content manager for Forum Communications. A journalist with Forum Communications since 1991, he is the editor of The Rink Live and helps cover the CCHA. He also assists with other content produced by Forum Communications.
What to read next
Rice's commitment is a bright spot for Mavericks fans who have had a rough few months watching players leave to follow previous head coach Mike Hastings to Wisconsin.
Bemidji State men’s hockey assistant coach Mike Gibbons announced his retirement from Bemidji State after serving as an assistant on the Beavers’ coaching staff for the past three seasons.
Get Local