Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said it best: “I don’t know who our goalie is going to be and we’re going to need secondary scoring.”
Those are the issues the Beavers face heading into this season off an eighth-place finish in 2011-12.
Jordan George, a senior with 101 career points who hasn’t notched fewer than 30 in any of his three years with the Beavers, will be the star on offense.
He took on that role last season when Serratore called George “the new Matt Read.” Read now plays for the Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL.
George, in fact, was the only Beavers player to reach the 30-point mark last season. Forwards like Aaron McLeod (9-14–23), Ben Kinne (10-12–22) and Brance Orban (9-13–22) need to give George some help offensively.
The Beavers are also looking for junior Radoslav Illo, BSU’s lone NHL draft pick, to double his career point total (23) this season.
Brad Hunt’s graduation leaves a big hole. BSU’s best defenseman for four years will also be missed on the offensive end because of his big slap shot.
“Brad was a key player for us and a big part of our run to the Frozen Four in 2009 when he was just a freshman,” Serratore said.
With a little bigger frame than Hunt, Matt Prapavessis can step into Hunt’s place as a sophomore this season.
“[Prapavessis] sees the rink extremely well,” Serratore said. “He has a tremendous hockey sense and we hope he can fill that role.”
Sophomore Andrew Walsh is the top candidate to replace goaltender Dan Bakala, who anchored the BSU net since the 2009-10 season.
Walsh posted a .915 save percentage and a 2.37 goals against average in 634 minutes last year. Senior Mathieu Dugas also will battle for the top goalie spot.
About the Beavers
2011-12 overall record: 17-18-3
2011-12 WCHA record: 11-14-3 (ninth)
2012-13 predicted finish (coaches poll): 11th
Key losses: G Dan Bakala, F Shea Walters, D Brad Hunt
Players to watch: F Jordan George, F Radoslav Illo
Impact rookie: D Graeme McCormack
Why the Beavers will finish higher than the coaches poll: Illo, the only NHL draft pick on the team, stays healthy all season, puts the puck in the net and shows why BSU was so excited about him when he arrived in 2010.
Why the Beavers will finish lower than the coaches poll: It’s hard to fall any further, but losses to Alaska-Anchorage at home could bury the Beavers.