Johnson, Somoza use COVID-19 extra eligibility to return to Bemidji State for 2021-22 college hockey season

Bemidji State seniors Brad Johnson and Ethan Somoza will return to the Beavers for the 2021-22 season.

Bemidji State seniors Brad Johnson and Ethan Somoza will return to the Beavers for the 2021-22 season.

While both players have exhausted the traditional four years of eligibility, due to a COVID-19 delayed start and condensed 2020-21 season, the NCAA has given seniors the opportunity to take an additional year of eligibility.

Johnson and Somoza will complete their business administration curriculum and pursue MBA degrees while returning to the Beavers for a fifth season.

“We are excited that Brad and Ethan have the opportunity to come back next year to lead our team and better themselves by continuing their education,” said BSU coach Tom Serratore in a statement. “To have high-end leaders like these two back in our room next year is huge and will give us an edge as we move to a new league and look to build on our 2020-21 NCAA tournament season.”

Traditionally, a student-athlete has five years to play four seasons of their sport. Because the pandemic impacted the 2020-21 winter season in ways that nobody could predict, the NCAA granted all winter sport athletes an extra year of eligibility. The extra year means current college student-athletes have six years to play their four seasons. This also means that student-athletes can compete in all or a portion of the 2020-21 season, but it won’t be counted against their years of eligibility depending on their division level specific eligibility rules.

“To be able to come back and get the full experience and play a full schedule for my senior season is an exciting opportunity,” said Somoza. “I think we have a really good group coming back. I want to be a part of this team for as long as I can and lead it as far as I can. We got a taste of the tournament this year. Now we want more.”

Somoza is the first native Californian to wear the ‘C’ for the Beavers. He posted 20 points on a team-high 15 goals and five assists in 29 games for the Beavers in 2020-21.

In 133 career games with Bemidji State, Somoza has 27 goals and 29 assists for 56 points.

“Looking back at last season and all the extra issues we had to deal with because of COVID, our team was still able to have success,” Johnson said. “To be able to come back and compete again with this special group of guys is a great opportunity. Also, being able to complete my MBA at Bemidji State will open doors for me in whatever career path I choose. I am grateful for the opportunity.”

Johnson was among BSU’s top four defensemen in all 29 of BSU’s games as a senior. He recorded three goals and matched a career high with seven assists. His 10 points were good for third among BSU blueliners and eighth on the team in scoring.

In 115 games on the BSU blue line, Johnson has 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 points.