College Hockey Series of the Week: Minnesota State vs. Bemidji State

Story posted February 28, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Christopher Hess

They say that Minnesota is the State of Hockey, and that is a fairly true statement for this season.

Two of the best teams in Minnesota will duke it out for the WCHA regular season championship, as No. 2 Minnesota State (28-4-2) makes the nearly five-hour journey north to Bemidji, taking on No. 11 Bemidji State (19-8-5).

Minnesota State presents an interesting challenge for this surging Bemidji State team, as the Mavericks scored 18 goals last weekend against Alabama-Huntsville. In addition, this team sits second in all of College Hockey in scoring with 3.97 goals per game.

That offensive production is spearheaded by a number of players that decided to come back to school after a discouraging 6-3 loss to Providence in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season.

The senior forward trio of Hobey Baker Award candidate Marc Michaelis, Parker Tuomie and Charlie Gerard have been beyond lethal for this Maverick team, with respected point totals of 38, 33 and 28.

Michaelis leads the team with 19 goals, while Tuomie leads in assists with 20. The trio’s play will be integral to the success of Minnesota State, alongside defensive contributions from Connor Mackey and Ian Scheid.

In net, the Mavericks have a potential Mike Richter Award winner in Dryden McKay. The sophomore from Downers Grove, Illinois has been putting up video game numbers for virtually the entire season.

In 33 games played, McKay has a nation leading 27 wins, 1.28 goals-against average, .942 save percentage and 10 shutouts.
The Beavers have only lost once since the turn of the new year and are one of the hottest teams in the nation. They have gotten all 19 of their wins in conference play and are in-line for a potential at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.

Bemidji brings the tenth best offense into this series, averaging 3.30 goals per clip and senior forward Adam Brady is the ring-leader of the potent Beaver attack.

The senior forward has 31 points on 17 goals and 14 assists. He has the most goals and points on his squad. Sophomore forward Owen Sillinger isn’t far behind with 12 goals 18 assists, equalling 30 points.

Tommy Muck and Elias Rosén are two of the better defensemen for this Bemidji State team. The duo has combined for 39 points, with 31 of them coming by way of assists.

Between the pipes, junior goalie Zach Driscoll has had a stellar season in which he has shattered his personal bests.

Through 28 games played, Driscoll has a record of 18-6-4, 46 goals allowed, a goals-against average of 1.63, a save-percentage of .936 and three shutouts.

Driscoll is third and fourth in the nation in the categories of goals-against and save percentage, respectively.

With the separation between these two teams being a mere six points, Bemidji can close the gap and create a tie at the top of the conference standings with a sweep of the Mavericks.

One Minnesota State win can clinch yet another WCHA regular season championship, and the likelihood of that happening is very high.

This series is the definition of strength vs. strength in almost every possible aspect. Expect both teams to punch each other in the mouth repeatedly for 120 minutes and for the goalies to steal the show.

Minnesota State has more playmakers and more depth. However, Bemidji salvaged a split in Mankato earlier in the calendar year and have made large strides since then. Expect more of the same this weekend.

Prediction: Series split, 1-1

Game 1: Minnesota State 4, Bemidji State 2
Game 2: Bemidji State 2, Minnesota State 1

Christopher Hess is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email christopherhess22@gmail.com.