Lehrke helped make history at BSU
Tyler Lehrke's junior season as a member of the Bemidji State University men's hockey team may have been his most memorable, but his senior season was his most productive.
Lehrke, a 2004 graduate of Park Rapids Area High School, capped off his collegiate career at BSU by tying for fifth place on the team in scoring with 24 points. The senior forward scored nine goals and had 15 assists in 37 games in helping the Beavers qualify for the NCAA Division I tournament for the second year in a row.
Last season, the Beavers qualified for the national tournament by winning the regular-season and post-season College Hockey America titles. BSU defeated No. 2 Notre Dame 5-1 and No. 9 Cornell 4-1 to advance to the Frozen Four for the first time in school history. The Beavers, who were rated No. 12 in the final NCAA poll, lost to No. 4 Miami of Ohio 4-1 in the national semifinals.
Despite losing to Niagara in the CHA semifinals, BSU was awarded an at-large bid to this year's national tournament by winning the CHA regular-season title with a 14-3-1 record and by going 23-9-4 and being ranked No. 9 in the national poll. A 3-2 win over top-ranked Miami of Ohio on Nov. 27 helped lift BSU to its highest ranking ever in the NCAA Division I poll at No. 4.
BSU had its hopes of returning to the Frozen Four denied with a 5-1 loss to Michigan in the Midwest Regional semifinals. BSU was the No. 2 seed in the region and ranked No. 9 in the nation while Michigan was the No. 3 seed and ranked No. 11 in the nation. That loss dropped BSU to 2-4 in NCAA Division I tournament action.
"I thought overall my senior year at BSU went great. Team-wise it was a great year from start to finish. We were consistently one of the top 10 teams in the nation. We were very consistent all year long and we accomplished many of our goals throughout the year. Obviously our season ended a little earlier than we would have liked, but we got to the national tournament again this year with an at-large bid for the first time and we ended up losing to a hot team in a very good hockey game," said Lehrke. "Personally, this year went extremely well for me. I was able to finally come into my own a little bit this year and I started to show up on the score sheet pretty regularly. I was fortunate enough to play with two great players on our third line and I thought we jelled really good together and made a lot happen."
Lehrke began his senior season with an assist in BSU's season-opening 3-1 win over Air Force on Oct. 9 and had another assist the next night in a 7-3 win over Air Force.
Lehrke scored his first goal of the season and had an assist in a 5-0 win over Northern Michigan on Oct. 24 and scored his second goal of the season as BSU defeated Robert Morris 6-1 on Nov. 7.
On Nov. 20, Lehrke had an assist to seal a 6-1 victory over Alabama-Huntsville and scored a goal in BSU's win over Miami on Nov. 27.
Lehrke scored his fourth goal of the season in BSU's 8-2 win over Niagara on Dec. 4 and assisted on a goal in a 3-2 win over Niagara on Dec. 5. Lehrke had another assist in BSU's 6-4 loss at Niagara on Jan. 15 and assisted on BSU's first goal in a 4-3 win at Niagara on Jan. 16.
Another assist by Lehrke helped BSU defeat then-No. 4-ranked Minnesota Duluth 5-4 in overtime on Jan. 23. The Beavers moved up to the No. 6 spot in the national poll and used Lehrke's fifth goal of the season to defeat Robert Morris 5-1 on Jan. 29.
Lehrke scored his sixth goal of the season in BSU's 5-2 loss to Robert Morris on Feb. 12, but followed with his best game of his collegiate career by scoring two goals (including an empty-net goal) and tallying two assists in a 5-2 win the next night against Robert Morris.
In a 3-1 win over Nebraska-Omaha on Feb. 26, Lehrke scored his ninth goal of the season and recorded his 11th assist.
Lehrke then capped off his senior season with an assist in a 3-2 win over Alabama-Huntsville on March 5, an assist in BSU's 5-4 playoff loss to Niagara on March 12, and an assist as the Beavers tied Robert Morris 3-3 in the CHA third-place game on March 13.
"Some of the main highlights here at BSU that I will never forget are playing in the NCAA tournament two years. Obviously last year was unbelievable being able to play in the NCAA tournament, upsetting the best team in the nation (Notre Dame) and then beating a top-10 team in Cornell to advance to the Frozen Four in Washington, D.C.," said Lehrke. "Another memory was this year getting a No. 2 seed and making it to another regional tournament in Fort Wayne. Another memory was beating the No. 1 team in the nation (Miami of Ohio) at a tournament up in Grand Forks. A bonus was I was able to score in that game. Lastly, being the first team at BSU to beat the University of Minnesota (6-2 on Nov. 15) at Mariucci Arena was pretty special as well."
Lehrke concludes his career at BSU with 18 goals and 28 assists for 46 points. As a junior, Lehrke played in 31 games and finished the season with two goals and three assists for five points as BSU went 12-5-1 in the conference and 20-16-1 overall. He had two goals and eight assists in 35 games as a sophomore as BSU went 13-4-3 in the conference and 17-16-3 overall. As a freshman, Lehrke had five goals and two assists in 20 games as BSU compiled a 9-6-5 conference record and 14-14-5 overall mark.
In addition to helping BSU excel on the ice, Lehrke excelled in the classroom by being named to the All-CHA Academic team three times.
"My experience at BSU was basically all I could ask for. I was able to play in a ton of games, a lot of big games and a lot of big game situations. I was also able to play in front of a lot of friends and family and that's pretty special to me," said Lehrke, who will graduate this spring and hopes to play professional hockey somewhere this fall. "Away from hockey, I was able to get a good education, which is obviously the most important thing that I will take with me. I also met so many great people up at school and I was able to play four years with some of the best teammates there ever has been. The tightness of our teams the last few years are second to none and I think that is the main reason we had so much success."