Mavericks-Beavers series among key matchups in CCHA this weekend
No. 13 Minnesota State looks to regain conference's top spot on the road against in-state rival Bemidji State
With just two weekends remaining in the regular season, Minnesota State has an opportunity to avenge a previous series loss to Bemidji State and regain the conference lead after sitting out last week.
There's two other matchups that can instantly swing playoff positioning as well. A look at the upcoming games:
No. 13 Minnesota State at Bemidji State (RV)
A week after seeing Michigan Tech pull out a win against Bowling Green to grab the first-place reins in the conference, Minnesota State looks to regain the top spot against in-state rival Bemidji State.
The NCAA runner-up a year ago, the Mavericks are 19-10-1 overall and 14-7-1 in CCHA play. It’s a big series for both teams as the Beavers (12-13-5, 10-9-3) strive to keep playoff home-ice alive, sitting in fourth place in the conference. Bemidji State stunned the Mavericks back in December, sweeping the then-No. 12 Mavericks at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center.
“There’s just so much on the line right now, which is what makes this time of year — a lot of fun,” Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said in his weekly press conference.
Minnesota State junior Jake Livingstone is three points shy of 75 for his career, a tally which would join him with senior Brendan Furry (77) and senior Cade Borchardt (81) as the current Mavericks with 75 or more career points. David Silye leads the Mavericks in points with 33.
Elias Rosёn and Lleyton Roed, the conference’s reigning freshman of the week, lead the Beavers with 24 points each.
Game times 7:07 p.m. CT Friday and 6:07 p.m. CT Saturday at Sanford Center.
Prediction: Series split
Ferris State at Northern Michigan
Ferris State (12-14-4, 9-10-3) remains in a fight for fourth place and home ice in the CCHA playoffs as the Bulldogs are one point behind fourth-place Bemidji State. Northern Michigan (14-16-0, 10-12-0) certainly isn’t out of the home-ice picture either with four games to go and 12 possible points remaining. The sixth-place Wildcats have 27 points, seven behind the Beavers.
Ferris State is coming off a weekend split against Bemidji State and is 3-5-2 in its last 10. Last weekend, Northern Michigan split with St. Thomas and is 3-7-0 in its last 10 games. The teams split a December series in Big Rapids.
Northern Michigan freshman goaltender Beni Halasz captured the CCHA top goalie honors this past week and has a .914 save percentage overall and a .910 within conference play. Noah Giesbrecht of Ferris State has the second-best conference save percentage of .922 and .919 overall.
AJ Vanderbeck leads the Wildcats in points with 27, good for sixth overall in the CCHA.
Game times are 6:07 p.m. CT Friday and 5:07 p.m. CT Saturday.
Prediction: Ferris State sweep
St. Thomas at Lake Superior State
St. Thomas (9-19-2, 8-12-2) enters the series one point behind sixth-place Northern Michigan and a somewhat comfortable nine points ahead of Lake Superior State (6-22-2, 5-16-1) in the CCHA.
These teams are 3-3 in their last six matchups, but the Tommies are much stronger than they were even after a late November sweep over the Lakers at St. Thomas Ice Arena. The Tommies started the season 2-11, but in their last 16 games, they’re 7-7-2. St. Thomas has increased its goal output from 2.15 goals-per-game to 2.69 over the last 16, but more importantly, dropped its goals against from 3.93 gpg to 2.86 during that stretch.
“You can see the growth and maturity of our team and when you have 12 freshmen that's certainly a big part of it. So I'm really happy with the way they've progressed,” Tommies head coach Rico Blasi said at his weekly press conference.
The Lakers are coming off a split against Northern Michigan and are 3-5 in their past four series. Junior Harrison Roy’s 10 goals leads the team, which has a league-low 59 goals this season. Junior Jacob Bengtsson’s 19 points is a team-high.
St. Thomas has not played at Taffy Abel Arena since losing a set in October 2021. Game times are 6:07 p.m. CT Friday and 5:07 p.m. CT Saturday.
Prediction: St. Thomas sweep
Pietila a semifinalist
Michigan Tech's Blake Pietila has been named one of the 10 Mike Richter Award semifinalists on Wednesday. The award goes to the top men's goalie in Division I. A semifinalist for the third straight season, the junior from Howell, Mich., is also a Hobey Baker candidate for the third straight year.
He has started 31 games for the Huskies this season and is 20-8-3 overall with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. He leads the nation in shutouts (8) and is second in wins (20) and minutes played.
Minnesota State leads the CCHA in attendance with an average of 4,579 fans, 13th overall in Division I. Michigan Tech (25th, 3,239), Northern Michigan (29, 2,791), Bowling Green (30th, 2,737), Bemidji State (39th 2,055), Ferris State (41st, 1,849), Lake Superior (48th, 1,611) and St. Thomas (55th, 778) round out the CCHA. North Dakota, with an average of 11,325 fans, tops all teams.