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BEL Major: Playoff Preview

By Peter Odney , 08/11/23, 11:00AM CDT


The final weekend of BEL Major play kicks off Friday night at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.

(6) Penguins vs. (3) Sharks Preview

(5) North Dakota vs. (4) Kings Preview

BEL Major Playoff Schedule

Sharks forward Jackson Hendricks leads the BEL Major Division in scoring with eight goals and 14 points.

Date Game Away Home Time
Aug. 11 Game 1 Penguins Sharks 4:15 PM
Aug. 11 Game 2 North Dakota Kings 6:00 PM
Aug. 12 Game 3 Game 1 Winner North Stars 8:15 AM
Aug. 12 Game 4 Game 2 Winner Rangers 10:00 AM
Aug. 12 Game 5 (Conso) Game 2 Loser Game 1 Loser 11:45 AM
Aug. 12 Game 6 (3rd Place) Game 3 Loser Game 4 Loser 3:15 PM
Aug. 12 Game 7 (Chip) Game 3 Winner Game 4 Winner 5:00 PM

Players to Watch

Bode McConnell, Kings

Player Team Position
Gunnar Conboy Rangers Forward
Devin Jacobs North Stars Forward
Teddy Lechner Kings Defense

Gunnar Conboy scores for the Rangers during game last weekend.

Player Team Position
Colin Grubb North Dakota Forward
Braeden Waller Sharks Defense
Caden Dionne Penguins Forward

Caden Dionne leads the Penguins with 12 points thus far. He'll play a key role in any upset this weekend.

The Favorites

Wyatt Kuznik, Rangers

The Rangers (5-1-2-0) bounced back after losing their first game last weekend, 7-2, against the North Stars with three straight wins over the Sharks, Kings, and Penguins to ease into the first overall seed for the playoffs. 

Outside of the loss, the Rangers have yet to be held to fewer than three goals in a game, and have scored five or more in five contests.

Four Rangers have scored in double-digits this BEL Major season, paced by Rosemount’s Connor Schubert (6G-7A-13P). Armstrong/Cooper’s Liam Grant (5-7-12), Eastview’s Sam Wooten (7-5-12), and Osseo-Maple Grove’s Wyatt Kuznik (4-6-10) round out the Rangers’ top scorers. 

The Rangers are also armed with one of the league’s top goaltenders in Matthew Fox (Stillwater). Fix has allowed just nine goals on 122 shots for a goals-against-average of 2.25 and a save percentage of .926. 

Sam Berry, North Stars

The only team to have defeated the league-leading Rangers and always a danger come Bantam Elite League playoff time, the North Stars (3-2-3-0) have lost just twice in eight games so far. The North Stars have also shown a great deal of comfort in extra innings, winning all three games that have gone into shootouts. 

Two Moorhead Spuds and a Hibbing/Chisholm Bluejacket sit atop the North Stars roster in scoring. Max Cullen (2-8-10) and Evan Wanner (5-5-10) provide the one-two punch from the Red River Valley, while Jackson Strukel (7-3-10) indicates that the Castle in the Woods could have found its next crop of talent. 

Goaltenders Hudson Ferries and Kaenan Smith have combined to allow 20 goals through eight games, the fewest in the league. 

The Team Nobody Wants to Play

Hayden Eckart leads North Dakota in total scoring this BEL Major season.

There’s no hotter team among BEL Major squads right now than North Dakota. 

Three straight wins in Burnsville give the sons of Teddy Roosevelt a cavalry’s worth of momentum heading into St. Cloud. Among those victories was a 4-1 win over the second-seeded North Stars, a game in which North Dakota scored four times in the second half and got a combined 22 saves on 23 shots from the duo of Oliver Bryan and Paul Suda. 

The bulk of this North Dakota squad advanced to last summer’s BEL Minor championship before losing in overtime.

See the game preview video above for more information on North Dakota.  

Connor Long, North Dakota

BEL Major Scoring Leaders

BEL Major Goalie Leaders

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