Bemidji State expects to be tested early this season

Bemidji State enjoyed all the excitement of its entrance into the WCHA and the inauguration of a brand new arena in 2010. But when the season started, the Beavers had to endure an extremely difficult schedule to open the season, and after a 0-4-1 start, it didn’t look promising.

But thanks to a goalie like Dan Bakala (.919 save percentage, 2.47 goals against average) and scorers like Jordan George and Matt Read, the Beavers were able to win key games and advance as far as the semifinals of the Final Five.

“Danny Bakala was a great goaltender for us last year,” said Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore “There were times when he won us games. We leaned on him.”

Read graduated, but Serratore expects George to be the guy to carry the load.

“Jordan George is our new Matt Read, and the goals he scores are big-time goals,” Serratore said. “Hopefully we can manufacture some offense and get some scoring by committee.”

As far as the beginning of this season’s schedule, it’s no less daunting: two games at No. 2 Miami and two more at No. 7 Colorado College before BSU returns home to face Michigan Tech. Then it’s back on the road to face No. 8 Minnesota-Duluth and Lake Superior.

About the Beavers

2010-11 overall record: 15-18-5

2010-11 WCHA record: 8-15-5 (10th)

2011-12 predicted finish (coaches poll): 10th

Key losses: F Matt Read, F Ian Lowe

Players to watch: G Dan Bakala, D Brad Hunt, F Jordan George

Impact rookie: D Matt Prapavessis

Why the Beavers will finish higher than the coaches poll: Bakala had solid seasons in goal the past two years and he will have to be a rock for the Beavers in 2010-11.

Why the Beavers will finish lower than the coaches poll: The Beavers will rely too much on Bakala with a lot of their scoring having departed in the offseason.