Ten things to know about Bemidji State ahead of this weekend's series against UND

North Dakota's Andrew Peski skates the puck up the ice in front of Bemidji State's Ian Janco during the 2018-19 season.

UND and Bemidji State often play two-game men's hockey series with a game in Bemidji one night and a game in Grand Forks the next night.

However, every third year, the Beavers come to Grand Forks for a two-game series.

This is one of those years where Bemidji State will be in Ralph Engelstad Arena twice (7:37 p.m. Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday). Here are 10 things to know about the Beavers ahead of the series:

1. BSU to split goalie starts

Bemidji State will give each goaltender a start this weekend.

The Beavers will start junior Zach Driscoll for Friday's series opener and junior Henry Johnson for Saturday's series finale. They each played a game in Bemidji State's season-opening series two weeks ago against St. Cloud State, too.


Driscoll, a St. Cloud State transfer, stopped 26 of 30 shots in a 4-4 tie with the Huskies in the series opener. Johnson stopped 30 of 32 shots in a 2-2 tie in the series finale.

They each received a start last season against UND, too. Johnson stopped 28 of 29 in a 2-1 Beaver win over the Fighting Hawks in Bemidji, while Driscoll stopped 26 of 27 in a 1-1 tie in Grand Forks.

Driscoll has more experience, going 16-17-6 with a 2.62 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage in 42 career games. But Johnson has strong numbers, going 5-5-3 with a 1.91 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 16 career games.

2. Beavers vs. Augsburg in off week

Bemidji State had a unique quirk in the schedule this season. After playing against St. Cloud State to open the season, the Beavers had Week 2 off.

But they didn't completely take last weekend off.

Bemidji State scrimmaged against Augsburg College, an NCAA Division-III program out of Minneapolis. Augsburg's coaching staff called Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore and asked him if he wanted to set something up.

Because Bemidji State travels to Alaska twice this season -- and those games don't count toward the 34-game regular-season limit -- the Beavers could do it.

"I had never thought about it until they called me," Serratore said. "It was great for both teams. We did five-on-five. We did special teams. We did six attackers. Our guys played hard. We wanted it to be productive."


3. Brendan Harris out

Bemidji State will be without center Brendan Harris for this weekend's series.

Harris, who led the British Columbia Hockey League in scoring during the 2016-17 season with 98 points, suffered a lower-body injury against St. Cloud State in the season opener.

"He might be out a while," Serratore said.

Last season, Harris assisted on two of Bemidji State's three goals against UND.

4. Another week, another Zmolek

Last weekend, UND went head-to-head against a defenseman named Zmolek. That was Riese Zmolek, a junior blue liner for Minnesota State-Mankato.

This weekend, UND will go head-to-head against another defenseman named Zmolek. This will be Bemidji State freshman defenseman Will Zmolek.


They are the sons of former Minnesota defenseman Doug Zmolek, who spent eight years in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks.

5. Beavs with NHL pedigree

Zmolek isn't the only Beaver with an extensive NHL family background.

Junior center Owen Sillinger is the son of 18-year NHL veteran Mike Sillinger, who played for the Detroit Red Wings, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and New York Islanders.

Bemidji State assistant coach Eddie Olczyk is the son of 16-year NHL veteran Ed Olczyk, who played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins. Ed also coached the Penguins and is now an NBC broadcaster.

Eddie's uncle, Rick, is the assistant general manager for Seattle's expansion franchise.

His brother, Nick, is at Colorado College.

6. Another older opponent for UND

UND's first three series of the season have come against three of the eight oldest teams in college hockey, according to College Hockey News .

UND's first series was against Canisius, which ranks seventh. Then, it was against Minnesota State-Mankato, which has the second-oldest team in the nation. Bemidji State ranks eighth.


Although the Beavers are generally an older team, they do not have any of the 30 oldest college hockey players in the country .

7. BCHL goal kings to head-to-head

This weekend's series will feature back-to-back BCHL goal-scoring leaders.

Bemidji State's Charlie Combs, who played for the Wenatchee Wild, led the BCHL with 51 goals in 2016-17. UND's Jasper Weatherby, who also played for Wenatchee, led the BCHL in goals the following year with 37.

Combs and Weatherby were teammates for a year, too.

Only two players since 2010 have scored more goals in a BCHL season than Combs did in 2016-17 -- Sheldon Rempal (59) and Scott Conway (56) in 2015-16. Rempal starred at Clarkson for two seasons before signing a free-agent deal with the Los Angeles Kings. Conway just finished his college career with Providence.

While Combs hasn't scored yet this season, he's still shooting plenty. He averaged 11.5 shot attempts and eight shots on goal per game against St. Cloud State.

"Combsy has played well so far," Serratore said. "He came in great shape and he's playing with a lot more pace."

8. Serratore a veteran

Serratore is now in his 19th season at Bemidji State, which ranks 11th among college hockey coaches in longest tenure at their current school.


The only coaches who have been at their current school longer are Mercyhurst's Rick Gotkin (32nd year), Ferris State's Bob Daniels (28th), Colgate's Don Vaughan (27th), Quinnipiac's Rand Pecknold (26th), Boston College's Jerry York (26th), Cornell's Mike Schafer (25th), Dartmouth's Bob Gaudet (23rd), Air Force's Frank Serratore (23rd), RIT's Wayne Wilson (21st) and Minnesota Duluth's Scott Sandelin (20th).

9. BSU breaks in four rookie D-men

Bemidji State played four freshman defensemen in the opening weekend against St. Cloud State -- Zmolek, Elias Rosen, Kyle Looft and Bemidji native Nick Leitner.

Leitner scored the game-tying goal with 5:36 left in the third period Saturday night -- a special goal for him considering it was Bemidji State's breast cancer awareness game and his family history with breast cancer .

All four of those rookie blue liners came from the United States Hockey League. Zmolek and Looft played for Cedar Rapids; Rosen played alongside UND's Shane Pinto on Tri-City's Anderson Cup-winning team last season and Leitner captained Green Bay, where he teamed with UND rookie defenseman Ethan Frisch.

"I thought those guys did a good job," Serratore said. "I thought those guys passed the test. I thought our compete level was high. We scored some goals. There are things we need to work on like everyone else."

10. Beavers still on light side

According to College Hockey News, Bemidji State ranks 59th of 60 college hockey teams in average height (5-foot-11.07) and 49th of 60 teams in average weight (184.1 pounds).


UND, meanwhile, ranks 26th in average height (6-0.17) and first in weight (194.1).

But Serratore said the Beavers are still bigger than they've been in the past.

"We can play a little heavier game now," Serratore said. "It adds more versatility to our group."

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at
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