Bemidji State will have last line change tonight as the home team.

That means after whistles, Beavers coach Tom Serratore can wait to see which line UND puts on the ice and he can match that line with whoever he wants.

This is generally an advantage for home teams, but there's one issue for the Beavers.

UND's biggest offensive threat isn't a forward. It's defenseman Jake Sanderson.

"He's such a threat every time he's out there," Serratore said. "I don't necessarily know if we can match when he's out there, because he can play a lot and he's playing from back there. It's a little tougher. I'm not going to over-coach that. We just have to make sure when he's out there, you better make sure you play 200 feet, because he's such a threat."

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In this season's preseason exhibition, Bemidji State got a firsthand look at that.

With the game tied 1-1 in the third period, Sanderson picked up the puck behind his own net, skated it the length of the ice and scored the game-winner.

"You've got to honor his speed a little bit, too," Serratore said. "You can't be so tight on him, because when he has space, he's dangerous. It is what it is. There's nothing you can do except take care of the puck. You want to take care of the puck, period, let alone when 26 is on the ice. You better have your antenna up a little more."

Here are 25 other notes from the week in hockey:

1. Bemidji State started both goaltenders last weekend against Minnesota Duluth. The Beavers started Michael Carr in a 4-2 loss Friday and Gavin Enright in a 2-1 loss Saturday. That's also the order they played in the exhibition against UND. "I'm trying to figure that out," Serratore said Tuesday when asked about his goalie situation for the upcoming weekend.

2. Bemidji State has four nonconference series this season. Three of the opponents are ranked in the top seven this week — No. 5 Minnesota Duluth, No. 7 UND and No. 2 St. Cloud State. The other is at Arizona State, which is 26-33-3 on the road and 24-4-2 at home in the last three seasons.

"I was talking to a colleague yesterday and I just said, 'I don't know what the general manager was thinking when he scheduled those games,'" Serratore said. "You sit there and look at these games right now, and you say, 'holy moly,' but I think that's just a testament to where we're all at in this little area with our programs."

3. Zach Driscoll has already played against his old team once in an exhibition, but going back into the building where he's spent the last three seasons will surely bring on a different level of strange feelings. Driscoll has never beaten a former team. When he was at Bemidji State, he had two starts against St. Cloud State (where he played as a freshman). Driscoll lost one start and tied the other.

4. The Fighting Hawks are expected to get another injured player back this weekend in Gavin Hain. It seems like a longshot that forward Brendan Budy will play this weekend, but don't expect him to be sidelined for too much longer. He's skating again, which is a good sign.

5. UND has long held a shootout the day before games (usually Thursdays). Beginning a couple of seasons ago, the coaching staff decided to start tracking every attempt, so they know who to use if a league game ends up going to a shootout. The Fighting Hawks still have a few weeks until they play a league game, but they're still tracking the shootout numbers. The winners in the first three weeks have been Jake Sanderson, Connor Ford and Judd Caulfield.

6. You may have noticed during last weekend's series that the end-of-period horn was not working in Ralph Engelstad Arena. They ended up having to try to do it manually. Time will tell if it's fixed for the next home game Saturday, but there was a crew in The Ralph on Thursday working to resolve the issue.

7. UND ended up with 17 former players on NHL opening-day rosters. Defenseman Matt Kiersted was a last-minute call-up for the Florida Panthers and played in the season opener. Kiersted played 9:22 and had two shots on goal in Florida's 5-4 overtime win.

8. When the final buzzer sounded Thursday night, Dave Hakstol looked onto the ice at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena and double-checked that someone grabbed the game puck. Hakstol and the Seattle Kraken earned their first victory in franchise history, beating the Nashville Predators 4-3. The Kraken improved to 1-1. They play at Columbus on Saturday, then Hakstol returns to Philadelphia for a game Monday.

9. Former UND and current Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews, who missed last season with chronic immune response syndrome, finally returned to the ice Wednesday night for his first regular-season game since March 11, 2020. Toews played 17:15 in a 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

10. Warroad High graduate T.J. Oshie became the first former UND player to score in the NHL this season when he buried a goal against the New York Rangers on Wednesday night. Oshie also had an assist in the game. The second UND goal also was by a Warroad graduate, Brock Nelson, who scored against Carolina on Thursday night.

11. Some good news from Anchorage: Former UND forward Evan Trupp had his last round of chemotherapy this week. Trupp is battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He was recently named an assistant coach with Anchorage's North American Hockey League team.

12. Former UND goaltender Kennedy Blair of Bismarck, who is a fifth-year senior at Wisconsin, opened the season with a shutout streak of 242 minutes, 10 seconds. Blair has started five games this season. She is 5-0 with a 0.21 goals-against average, a .987 save percentage and three shutouts.

13. Jake Sanderson won the NCHC's defenseman of the week honor after his two-goal, four-point performance against Niagara. Amazingly, it was the first time he won it. Last season, Ethan Frisch, Matt Kiersted, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Cooper Moore all won it, but Sanderson did not. Sanderson never won rookie of the week, either.

14. Jake Schmaltz was named the co-rookie of the week in the NCHC after scoring three goals and four points against Niagara. Jake's cousin, Nick, won that honor once as a rookie. His other cousin, Jordan, was a rookie in the WCHA, not the NCHC.

15. Grand Forks native Mason Salquist scored his first-career goal Saturday night in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown between St. Cloud State and MSU-Mankato. Salquist, a freshman at St. Cloud State, scored the game’s third goal against MSU-Mankato netminder Dryden McKay, who tied Ryan Miller's all-time NCAA shutout record a night earlier.

16. Grand Forks Central graduate Will Howard tallied the first hat trick in New Mexico Ice Wolves history last Friday. Howard scored once in the first period and twice in the third against Lone Star in the North American Hockey League. It marked Howard's first hat trick since Feb. 5, 2019, when he got one as a Central junior against West Fargo.

17. A couple of UND commits are rolling early this season in junior hockey. Forward Jackson Blake, who plays for the Chicago Steel, leads the United States Hockey League with 11 points in six games. Blake had eight points in two games last weekend.

18. Bowden Singleton, who plays for the Okotoks Oilers, leads the Alberta Junior Hockey League with 19 points in 10 games. Singleton has tallied a point in every game this season.

19. Another commit to keep an eye on is Jayden Perron, who plays for the Chicago Steel. Perron, a 2005 birthday and one of the youngest players in the league, has three goals in six games. He looks the part, too. He could end up being a big-time recruit for the Fighting Hawks.

20. East Grand Forks Senior High's Jaksen Panzer is starting the season with Minot in the NAHL. He has 10 points in 10 games, but has been particularly hot as of late, tallying six points in four October games. Panzer is committed to UND.

21. Former UND center Corban Knight won a KHL championship with Avangard Omsk last season and he's off to a big start this season. Knight had a four-point game this week and leads his team in both goals (10) and points (19). Knight ranks third in the entire league in points.

22. After splitting against Minnesota State-Mankato last weekend, No. 2 St. Cloud State has another showdown set for this weekend against No. 4 Minnesota. Wild draft pick Sam Hentges left Friday's game with an injury, missed Saturday and is questionable for the Gophers series.

23. It's a homecoming for Colorado College coach Kris Mayotte this weekend. Mayotte and the Tigers are playing at Union, where Mayotte played goalie. Mayotte said Union changed his life.

24. The Ice Breaker Invitational in Duluth will be one to follow. No. 3 Michigan and No. 5 Minnesota Duluth play each other Friday night in a game that was supposed to happen in the first round of the NCAA tournament but did not because Michigan had to withdraw due to COVID-19 protocols. The other game is a big one, too, with No. 1 MSU-Mankato taking on No. 10 Providence.

25. If McKay gets a shutout this weekend and breaks Miller's record, he will have to do it in impressive fashion against a top team. McKay's first 23 shutouts were against Alabama Huntsville (4), Lake Superior State (4), Ferris State (3), Northern Michigan (3), Michigan Tech (2), Bemidji State (2), Alaska Anchorage (2), Alaska Fairbanks (1), Bowling Green (1) and Arizona State (1). His last three shutouts? The NCAA regional championship game against Minnesota, the season-opener against defending national champion UMass and last weekend against the defending national runner-up St. Cloud State.

Bemidji State player to watch

This week, Cole Sillinger made news by becoming just the second player ever to go directly from the United States Hockey League to the NHL. But it’s his older brother, Owen Sillinger, who UND needs to worry about. Sillinger, a Beaver senior, has scored in both series he’s played against UND in his career. Once in Bemidji, he had the game-winning goal in the third period. Sillinger will not only be a top scoring threat, he’s also their best faceoff man (61.3 percent last season).

Bemidji State's Owen Sillinger (12) controls the puck near the Michigan Tech net in the during a March WCHA playoff game at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
Bemidji State's Owen Sillinger (12) controls the puck near the Michigan Tech net in the during a March WCHA playoff game at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)


UND player to watch

There's usually not much easy ice when UND and Bemidji State play against each other, so look for players who thrive on the top of the crease and below the dots to produce. That fits Connor Ford's game. During his four seasons with Bowling Green, Ford had two goals and five points in nine games against the Beavers. The fifth-year senior from Pittsburgh had a pair of an assists last weekend against Niagara. He is looking for his first goal in a UND uniform.

UND graduate-transfer forward Connor Ford carries the puck during morning hockey practice at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Wednesday, September 22, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
UND graduate-transfer forward Connor Ford carries the puck during morning hockey practice at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Wednesday, September 22, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks HeraldNick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The pick

Under Brad Berry, UND has played Bemidji State 10 times. Seven of them have been within a goal, including three ties. That doesn’t even include the 2-1 exhibition game the teams played two weeks ago. UND-BSU games have generally been low-scoring and tight, and there’s every reason to believe these will be, too.

Friday: UND 2, Bemidji State 2, tie.

Saturday: UND 3, Bemidji State 2.

Bemidji State senior forward Alex Ierullo (14) watches his shot hit the back of the net past former teammate and current UND goaltender Zach Driscoll, left, in the second period of an exhibition hockey game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. on Saturday, October 2, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
Bemidji State senior forward Alex Ierullo (14) watches his shot hit the back of the net past former teammate and current UND goaltender Zach Driscoll, left, in the second period of an exhibition hockey game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. on Saturday, October 2, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks HeraldNick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Follow the games

Time: 7:07 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday.

Place: Sanford Center, Bemidji on Friday; Ralph Engelstad Arena on Saturday.

TV: Midco Sports Network (GF Ch. 27/622 HD) on Saturday only.

Webcast: flohockey.tv on Friday; NCHC.tv on Saturday.

Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM) and iHeart Radio.