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Preview: UND vs. Bemidji State

The Fighting Hawks and Beavers will meet in Bemidji on Friday and in Grand Forks on Saturday.

100321 S GFH UNDMHKY LukasSillinger ZachDriscoll01.jpg
Bemidji State forward Lukas Sillinger (20) tries to poke the puck past former teammate and current UND starting goaltender Zach Driscoll in the first period of an exhibition hockey game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. on Saturday, October 2, 2021.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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BEMIDJI, Minn. — UND will see a lot of No. 4 and No. 28 this weekend.

Those are the numbers that belong to Bemidji State defensemen Will Zmolek and Elias Rosen.

Zmolek and Rosen rank 1-2 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in ice time. Both are averaging more than 25 minutes a game. Zmolek plays 25:56 per game. Only two players in all of college hockey are averaging more minutes than him. Rosen plays 25:00.

"We play the heck out of them," Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said. "But why wouldn't we?"

The 6-foot-4, 209-pound Zmolek is a senior from Rochester, Minn. The 5-foot-11, 184-pound Rosen is a senior from Mora, Sweden.

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"You can't put a price tag on experience," Serratore said. "Those guys are so experienced. They've played so much hockey for us over the years. It's a big trust factor. They play the game the right way. Zmolek is the consummate guy that plays every shift hard. He makes really smart plays, he's great on breakouts, outstanding transitionally and defends well. He's got size and hockey sense. He's got a great feel. Rosen has very good offensive skills. He also does not take a back seat defensively. We have a lot of trust in those guys right now."

By comparison, UND's time on ice leaders are Chris Jandric at 22:00 and Ethan Frisch at 21:59. Tyler Kleven is starting to reach that range now that he's on the second power-play unit.

This weekend, the teams will play one night in Bemidji and the next night in Grand Forks.

Next season, both games will be in Grand Forks. Then, they'll revert to one in each place again for a couple of years.

"Logistically, it makes sense right now as far as playing one venue one night and the other venue the other night," UND coach Brad Berry said. "It's something we've done for a long time, and we've agreed upon playing each other every year. I know, obviously, it helps our program and it sure helps their program as well."

Follow the games

When: 7:37 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Sanford Center in Bemidji on Friday, Ralph Engelstad Arena on Saturday.
TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622 HD) on Saturday only.
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM) on Friday, Cat Country (100.3 FM) on Saturday.
Stream: Flohockey.tv on Friday, NCHChockey.com on Saturday.
Of note: There's a Black Friday sale going on until 6 p.m. UND is offering bargain tickets for student-less games (Saturday vs. Bemidji State, New Year's Eve exhibition against U.S. Under-18 Team and Lindenwood on Jan. 6-7). Cost is $15 for adults, $10 for youth.

Tale of the tape

UNDStatBSU
3.69 (8th)Off2.40 (41st)
3.08 (43rd)Def2.20 (11th)
31.1 (4th)PP18.2 (35th)
.860 (7th)PK.771 (47th)
54.9 (8th)FO51.3 (25th)
.877 (57th)SP.910 (19th)

National rank in parenthesis. Categories are offense, defense, power play, penalty kill, faceoff percentage, team save percentage.

The focus: BSU F Mitchell Martan

In the summer of 2021, Bemidji State didn't dip into the transfer portal at all.

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Serratore had solid reasoning: Bemidji State had nearly its entire roster back from the 2020-21 squad, which was one game away from reaching the NCAA Frozen Four.

"If we needed a puzzle piece, we would have done it," Serratore said. "We felt we wanted to keep things status quo. We felt we had a deep enough back line. Up front, we had almost everyone back. It didn't even enter our minds. We weren't going to put ourselves in a situation that negatively affected chemistry."

This offseason, things were different.

"We lost 70 percent of our offense," Serratore said. "There's no question you want to try to bring in a little experience to relieve a little of that concern."

Bemidji State brought in three transfers up front — Mitchell Martan from Canisius, Kaden Pickering from St. Lawerence and Jackson Jutting from Colorado College.

"They've been outstanding," Serratore said. "They fit in well. They're great kids and high-character guys. So far, I'm really happy with those guys. They've been a big shot in the arm for us, not only offensively, but their experience and presence and what they're bringing to the team. They've been through a lot of battles already."

None have been as impactful as Martan, a fifth-year senior.

Martan leads Bemidji State in goals (five), assists (five), points (10), shots on goal (37), game-winning goals (two) and power-play goals (two).

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Pick to click: Louis Jamernik V

Louis Jamernik V has turned into a very good setup man for UND.

He's not shooting a lot this season. Jamernik V has attempted 21 shots and put nine on net. But he's made some outstanding setups for linemates, including last weekend's drop pass to Gavin Hain for a goal against Miami.

Although Jamernik V has yet to score a goal this season, he does have that ability. Last season, Jamernik V had nine of them, finishing fourth on the team behind Riese Gaber, Ashton Calder and Judd Caulfield.

The players who usually score against Bemidji State are ones who thrive in physical, tight-checking conditions. Jamernik V and his linemates — Hain and Mark Senden — are players who can do exactly that.

The call: Split

UND has won just one of its last five two-game series. It got four points at Omaha.

Since then, it's been a struggle to put together a full weekend.

"It's going to take consistency for 120 minutes," Caulfield said. "We've always talked about playing 60 minutes all year. We brought the 60 (last) Friday, then obviously, Saturday, we had the slow start and we were down 3-0. . . We've just got to start playing hard right away and carry it through the whole weekend."

Bemidji State has been an outstanding puck possession team this season, ranking in the top 10. The Beavers are averaging 32 shots on goal per game (No. 15 nationally). Their shooting percentage hasn't been very high — they're at 7.5 percent, 49th in the nation — but UND's save percentage is .877, 57th in the country.

Will Bemidji State break through and turn that puck possession into more goals? Or will UND start keeping the puck out of its own net?

Bemidji State has only lost two of the last 11 in Sanford Center going back to last season. One of them required a 40-save performance by Arizona State goalie T.J. Semptimphelter, who stole a game for the Sun Devils after they got outshot 40-20 by the Beavers.

Friday in Bemidji: Bemidji State 3, UND 2
Saturday in Grand Forks: UND 5, Bemidji State 2

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 bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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