November 14, 2011
UMD takes an eight-game unbeaten streak into the weekend
MADISON, Wis. The first of only four weekends during the 2011-12 regular season that feature all 12 Western Collegiate Hockey Association men's teams engaged in league play will occur this Friday, Nov. 18 through Sunday, Nov. 20. Two-game conference matchups will feature Minnesota Duluth hosting Minnesota State, Michigan Tech traveling to Alaska Anchorage, Minnesota and St. Cloud State playing a home-and-home series, Denver entertaining Nebraska Omaha, Wisconsin visiting Colorado College and Bemidji State hosting North Dakota (Saturday/Sunday).
This six all-WCHA series weekend scenario will happen three more times in 2011-12, on Jan. 13-14, on Feb. 17-18 and on March 2-3.
The defending national champion and No. 8-ranked UMD Bulldogs (7-3-2, 5-2-1 WCHA) will take an eight-game unbeaten streak (6-0-2) into their Friday-Saturday home-ice set with Minnesota State (3-7-0, 2-4-0 WCHA) at AMSOIL Arena (6,726), where face-offs are set for 7:37 pm and 7:07 pm CT. The return engagement between the two foes will happen on Feb. 17-18 in Mankato.
No. 15-ranked Michigan Tech (6-3-1, 4-3-1 WCHA) returns to the ice after a week off when the Huskies visit Alaska Anchorage (3-6-1, 0-6-0 WCHA) and Sullivan Arena (6,251) for a pair of 7:07 pm AT engagements. MTU will then host UAA in Houghton on Jan. 13-14.
No. 1-ranked and league-leading Minnesota (10-2-0, 7-1-0 WCHA) and St. Cloud State (5-5-2, 3-2-1 WCHA) will hook-up in a home-and-home conference series, with Friday evening's game at the National Hockey Center (5,371) in St. Cloud at 7:37 pm CT and Saturday's encounter coming at Mariucci Arena (10,000) in Minneapolis at 7:07 pm CT. The Golden Gophers and Huskies will meet again for games three and four of the regular season series on Jan. 27 at UM and Jan. 28 at SCSU.
In the Mile High City this weekend, No. 11-ranked Denver (4-3-2, 3-2-2 WCHA) will play host to No. 19 Nebraska Omaha (6-5-1, 5-2-1 WCHA) at 6,025-seat Magness Arena, with puck drops at 7:37 pm MT on Nov. 18 and 7:07 pm MT on Nov. 19. The Pioneers and Mavericks will then do battle again on the final weekend of the regular season March 2-3 in Omaha.
At the World Arena (7,380) in Colorado Springs this Friday and Saturday, No. 5-ranked Colorado College (5-2-0, 3-2-0 WCHA) will engage visiting Wisconsin (5-6-1, 4-5-1 WCHA), with the series opener set for 7:37 pm and game two slated for 7:07 pm MT. These two games will constitute the only two regular season meetings between the two clubs.
And up at Sanford Center (4,373) in Bemidji this weekend, Bemidji State (4-7-1, 2-5-1 WCHA) will go up against defending WCHA/MacNaughton Cup-champion North Dakota (3-6-1, 1-5-0 WCHA) in a 7:37 pm CT face-off Saturday night and a 5:07 pm CT clash on Sunday. This, too, will mark the only regular season meetings of the two teams.
The race for the WCHA regular season championship and MacNaughton Cup consists of 168 games, with each league club playing 28 contests (14 home and 14 away).
Through the first five weeks of league play, Minnesota is out front with a 7-1-0 mark and 14 points in eight WCHA contests. The Gophers are followed by Minnesota Duluth and Nebraska Omaha, who have identical 5-2-1 league slates in eight games for 11 points. Michigan Tech (4-3-1) and Wisconsin (4-5-1) share fourth place this week with nine points, although the Huskies have two games in hand on the Badgers. Denver is in sixth place via a 3-2-2 mark and eight points in seven WCHA games, St. Cloud State is seventh with seven points on a 3-2-1 record and Colorado College is eighth with a 3-2 mark and six points while playing just five games. Bemidji State is currently ninth with a 2-5-1 mark and five points (8 gp), Minnesota State is 10th at 2-4-0 with four points (6 gp), North Dakota is 11th with a 1-5-0 mark and two points (6 gp) and Alaska Anchorage is 12th at 0-6-0 (6 gp).
The top six ranked teams at the conclusion of the regular season will earn home ice for the first round of men's WCHA playoffs. Those best-of-three series will be contested the weekend of March 9-11.
The six first round playoff winners will then earn berths in the 2012 Red Baron WCHA Final Five, set for March 15-17 at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn. At the Final Five, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams will receive a first-day bye. There will be two games played on Thursday at 2:07 pm and 7:07 pm CT, and then two semi-final matchups on Friday at 2:07 pm and 7:07 pm CT. On Saturday, the Broadmoor Trophy championship game will be played at 7:07 pm CT. The winner of the Final Five receives the WCHA's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Looking back at last weekend, Nov. 11-12, there were four two-game WCHA series and one single game contested. Both Michigan Tech and North Dakota were idle.
The only team able to record a series sweep was Minnesota Duluth, with the host Bulldogs skating past Alaska Anchorage by 5-0 and 3-1 margins. In game one last Friday, center Jack Connolly had a goal and two assists for Minnesota Duluth while goaltender Kenny Reiter stopped all 27 shots. In game two last Saturday, center Travis Oleksuk connected for the game-winner on a second period power-play and Reiter turned away 33 of 34 shots on goal to push the Bulldogs' unbeaten streak to eight games at 6-0-2.
One other team Nebraska Omaha managed to secure three of four points last weekend, with the Mavericks earning a 3-3 (ot) tie and 5-1 victory at Bemidji State. On Nov. 11, right winger Jordan George provided the dramatics for the Beavers with an extra-attacker, game-tying goal at 19:02 of the third period. Then on Nov. 12, left winger Terry Broadhurst netted two goals, including the game-winner, for UNO while right winger Josh Archibald had a goal and an assist.
In Madison last weekend, host Wisconsin gained a series split with No. 1-ranked and first place Minnesota, winning 3-1 on Friday before falling 4-1 on Saturday. In the series opener, the Badgers scored three second period goals, with center Keegan Meuer notching the game-winner, and Joel Rumpel made 24 saves between the pipes. In the Minnesota victory on Nov. 12, the Gophers received a goal and an assist from both center Taylor Mattson (game-winner) and left winger Nate Condon and held Wisconsin to just 14 shots on goal. Minnesota has now not been swept in Madison since Nov. 12-13, 1999.
At Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, host Minnesota State and St. Cloud State traded victories, with the Mavericks prevailing 4-2 on Friday and the Huskies winning 3-2 last Saturday. In game one, left winger J.P. Burkemper had a goal and an assist for MSU while center Eli Zuck knocked home the eventual winner in the second period with his team shorthanded. In game two, the visiting Huskies scored three first period goals, including right winger David Eddy's game-winner, and left winger Ben Hanowski added a goal and an assist.
And in a single WCHA game played in Denver on Nov. 12, the Denver Pioneers upended arch-rival Colorado College, 5-4, at Magness Arena as center Drew Shore contributed a goal and two assists and defenseman John Lee tallied the winner. With the game tied 1-1, DU scored four straight times in the second period before the Tigers netted three straight, including one by right winger Jeff Collett at 13:56 of period three, to close within one.
Looking ahead to Thanksgiving week, there will be two WCHA series played on Nov. 25 (Friday) and Nov. 26 (Saturday) that feature Alaska Anchorage at Minnesota State and Colorado College at North Dakota. On Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 27) of the holiday weekend, Nebraska Omaha will entertain St. Cloud State. Outside the conference, Michigan Tech will travel to St. Lawrence (ECAC Hockey), Minnesota heads to Michigan State (CCHA), Wisconsin hosts Mercyhurst (AHA), and Denver welcomes Miami (CCHA), Princeton (ECAC Hockey) and Providence (HEA) for the Denver Cup Classic tournament at Magness Arena.
Through games of Nov. 13, Western Collegiate Hockey Association-member teams are a combined 20-14-4 (.579) in 38 non-conference games. Conference teams are 7-0-0 (1.000) vs the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA), 5-7-0 (.417) vs the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), 3-2-1 (.583) vs ECAC Hockey (ECACH) and 5-5-3 (.500) vs the Hockey East Association (HEA).
In the lastest USCHO.com Div. 1 Men's College Hockey Poll for Nov. 14, Minnesota is again ranked No. 1 nationally, Colorado College is at No. 5, Minnesota Duluth is at No. 8, Denver is at No. 11, Michigan Tech is at No. 15 and Nebraska Omaha is at No. 19. Also receiving votes this week were North Dakota, Wisconsin and St. Cloud State.
And in this week's (Nov. 14) USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Div. 1 Men's College Hockey Poll, Minnesota is No. 1, Colorado College is No. 5, Minnesota Duluth is No. 8, Denver is No. 11 and Michigan Tech is tied at No. 14. Also receiving votes was Nebraska Omaha.
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, home to a record 37 national championship teams since it's founding in 1951 including the most recent NCAA Frozen Four title won by Minnesota Duluth in 2011 marks it's 60th season of on-ice competition in 2011-12.
This Week in the WCHA
Games for Friday, November 18: Minnesota at St. Cloud State (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Minnesota State at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Nebraska Omaha at Denver (WCHA), 7:37 pm MT; Wisconsin at Colorado College (WCHA), 7:37 pm MT; Michigan Tech at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT.
Games for Saturday, November 19: Minnesota State at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; North Dakota at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; St. Cloud State at Minnesota (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Nebraska Omaha at Denver (WCHA), 7:07 pm MT; Wisconsin at Colorado College (WCHA), 7:07 pm MT; Michigan Tech at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT.
Games for Sunday, November 20: North Dakota at Bemidji State (WCHA), 5:07 pm CT.
Last Week in the WCHA
Results of Friday, November 11
Alaska Anchorage 0 at Minnesota Duluth 5 (WCHA)
Minnesota 1 at Wisconsin 3 (WCHA)
St. Cloud State 2 at Minnesota State 4 (WCHA)
Nebraska Omaha 3 at Bemidji State 3 OT (WCHA)
Results of Saturday, November 12
Alaska Anchorage 1 at Minnesota Duluth 3 (WCHA)
St. Cloud State 3 at Minnesota State 2 (WCHA)
Nebraska Omaha 5 at Bemidji State 1 (WCHA)
Minnesota 4 at Wisconsin 1 (WCHA)
Colorado College 4 at Denver 5 (WCHA)