WCHA Weekend Preview: Oct. 16-17, 2015
News and notes for the upcoming weekend of WCHA hockey
photo
Alaska hosts the Brice Alaska Goal Rush at Carlson Center this weekend

Opening Face-Off

- A Look at the Polls: No. 10 Bowling Green, No. 14 Minnesota State and No. 16 Michigan Tech give the WCHA three ranked teams in the USCHO.com poll, with Bemidji State (second-highest total in the category, just outside the top 20), Northern Michigan and Ferris State all in the "receiving votes" column. The Mavericks are No. 15 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, with MTU and NMU receiving votes.

- Welcome Back, Justin: This past weekend marked the return to the ice of Alaska Nanooks forward Justin Woods, who missed all of last season while undergoing successful treatment for a rare form of bone cancer. Woods totaled a WCHA-high six blocks in two games over the weekend.

- Bemidji State Notches Another Upset: Following a power outage-induced postponement Friday in Duluth, Bemidji State opened its campaign with a thrilling 3-2 victory over No. 2/3 UMD on Saturday night. In their last 17 games dating back to last season (Jan. 23), the Beavers have posted five victories over top-10 opponents (No. 7 UMD, No. 1 Minnesota State, No. 6 Bowling Green and No. 2 MSU last season). BSU, which is 10-5-2 overall during that stretch, will get its next opportunity to slay a giant this weekend with a home-and-home against top-ranked North Dakota (whom the Beavers defeated on opening night last season in Grand Forks, when UND was ranked No. 2).

- Charging Ahead: Showing the program's continued progress, Alabama Huntsville posted an opening weekend win for the first time since 2010-11, defeating Connecticut 5-2 on Saturday to earn a split. Last season, the Chargers did not post their first victory until their ninth game (0-7-1); in 2013-14, the winless streak was 15 contests (0-15-0) out of the gate.

- 1,600 for the Huskies: Michigan Tech will play its 1,600th all-time WCHA game in the league opener Friday night. A founding member of the league and part of the WCHA for 60 seasons (except 1980-81 through 1983-84), the Huskies are 664-826-109 all-time in league play.


The Week Ahead

- Cup Quest Begins: The chase for the MacNaughton Cup, which has been decided by just a single point each of the last two years, begins this weekend when No. 16 Michigan Tech opens its season at Ferris State.

- More Nonconference Ahead: The WCHA will look to improve on its 5-9-3 opening weekend record with 11 more games against the NCHC (5), Atlantic Hockey (4) and ECAC Hockey (2).

- Brice Alaska Goal Rush: Tournament play will return to the Last Frontier for the second straight weekend, with Alaska hosting the Brice Alaska Goal Rush in Fairbanks. The Nanooks will welcome American International, RPI and Alaska Anchorage to Fairbanks.

- Wait, You Look Familiar: Upper Peninsula rivals and WCHA member schools Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan will face off in a nonconference home-and-home series this weekend.


WCHA.tv

- A total of nine WCHA games this weekend can be viewed live via WCHA.tv.


All rankings listed by USCHO.com poll first, followed by USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll

WCHA

No. 16 Michigan Tech (0-0-0, 0 pts. WCHA/ 0-0-0) at Ferris State (0-0-0, 0 pts. WCHA / 0-1-1)
Ewigleben Arena; Big Rapids, Mich.
Friday, October 16th and Saturday, October 17th (7:07 p.m. ET both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- The quest for the MacNaughton Cup begins at Ewigleben Arena, where Ferris State hosts No. 16 Michigan Tech in the first WCHA series of the season.

- Overall, the Huskies boast a 12-8-1 all-time record against the Bulldogs, including a 4-3-0 mark under head coach Mel Pearson. FSU, however, is 6-5-0 on its home ice.

- No. 16 MTU officially opens its 95th hockey season with this series against its in-state rival, after winning a pair of exhibition games last weekend. FSU opened its 41st season with a pair of exciting, one-goal games against Western Michigan (0-1-1).

- FSU junior G Charles Williams made his return to the net last weekend after missing all of last year due to injury, posting a .939 save percentage (62-of-66) and 1.93 GAA.

- MTU senior F Alex Petan (fourth among active D-I players with 102 career points) was named to the College Hockey News Preseason All-America Second Team, while senior G Jamie Phillips (and Winnipeg Jets draftee) was tabbed a "Top 10 Goalie to Watch" by USCHO.com.


NONCONFERENCE

Alaska (0-2-0) vs. American International (AHA; 0-1-0) and Rensselaer (ECAC; 1-1-0)
Brice Alaska Goal Rush - Carlson Center; Fairbanks, Alaska
Friday, October 16th and Saturday, October 17th (7:07 p.m. AT both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- Alaska hosts the eighth annual Brice Alaska Goal Rush this weekend, as the Nanooks will entertain Alaska Anchorage, American National and RPI at the Carlson Center.

- The Nanooks will be going for their third-straight Brice title this weekend.

- Tyler Morley, the WCHA coaches' choice for Preseason Player of the Year, scored the first goal of the season for Alaska in the first period of last Saturday's game against Arizona State.

- It was Morley's 43rd goal of his career and 93rd point, putting him just seven points shy from entering the school's 100-point club.

- Junior Justin Woods made his long-awaited return to the ice after winning his bout against cancer last season. The Fairbanks native played in both games for the Nanooks, marking the first time he was on the ice since the 2013-14 season. Woods tied for the WCHA lead with six blocks last weekend.


Alaska Anchorage (1-1-0) vs. Rensselaer (ECAC) and American International (AHA)
Brice Alaska Goal Rush - Carlson Center; Fairbanks, Alaska
Friday, October 16th and Saturday, October 17th (4:07 p.m. AT both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- Alaska Anchorage opened its season last weekend by hosting the Kendall Hockey Classic, defeating NCAA Div. 1 newcomer Arizona State 3-2 in OT, before falling to the then-No. 17 St. Cloud State 6-2 on Saturday.

- UAA had two players named to the Kendall Hockey Classic All-Tournament team in junior F Brad Duwe and freshman D Wyatt Ege.

- Duwe collected an assist and then scored the OT game-winner to lift the Seawolves over the Sun Devils last Friday. Meanwhile, Ege produced two points on the weekend, including his first collegiate goal on Oct. 9.

- UAA heads north for the eighth annual Brice Alaska Goal Rush. The Seawolves are 8-5-1 all-time at the BAGR, and has won twice since the inaugural event in 2008.

- The Seawolves who have 20 underclassmen, including 12 freshmen and the Engineers will meet for just the fourth time ever. UAA is 2-1 vs RPI, with the teams' last meeting coming at the Brice tournament in 2009 (a 3-0 Seawolves victory).


Bemidji State (1-0-0) vs No. 1 North Dakota (NCHC; 2-0-0)
Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn. and Ralph Engelstad Arena; Grand Forks, N.D.
Friday, October 16th at 7:37 p.m. CT (WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV)
Saturday, October 17th at 7:07 p.m. CT

- Bemidji State continues its early-season run against ranked opponents with a home-and-home series with No. 1 North Dakota. Beginning Jan. 23 of last season, the Beaves are 10-5-2 in their last 17 games, a stretch that includes five victories over top-10 opponents.

- For the second straight season, the Beavers opened their campaign by downing the No. 2 team in the country when they defeated No. 2/3 Minnesota Duluth, 3-2, last Saturday.

- BSU's Charlie O'Connor scored with 22.7 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Beavers to victory at the Sanford Center. The dramatic goal was just the second game-winner of the junior's career.

- Michael Bitzer stopped 28-of-30 shots to earn the win against UMD. In 29 career appearances, the 2014-15 WCHA Rookie of the Year is 15-11-3 with a .930 save percentage and 1.81 GAA.

- BSU is 3-36-3 all-time vs. North Dakota, but two of its wins and two of its ties in the series dating back to 1970 have come since the 2011-12 season. BSU has outscored North Dakota 9-4 in the Beavers' last three appearances at Ralph Englestad Arena, going 1-1-1 (including a 5-1 victory over then-No. 2 UND in the 2014 season opener).


No. 10 Bowling Green (2-1-0) at Canisius (AHA; 0-1-0) and RIT (AHA; 0-2-0)
HARBORCENTER; Buffalo, New York and the Gene Polisseni Center; Rochester, New York
Friday, October 16th at 7:35 p.m. ET and Saturday, October 17th at 7:05 p.m. ET

- No. 10 Bowling Green continues its three-team, three-city road week in New York, facing Canisius on Friday in Buffalo and RIT on Saturday in Rochester.

- BGSU opened with a home-and-home sweep of Ohio State last weekend for its first 2-0-0 start since the 2004-05 season; however, the Falcons fell Tuesday night at Western Michigan.

- Thirteen Falcons scored at least one point during BGSU's opening weekend sweep of Ohio State, and all six goals in Friday's 6-3 victory were scored by different players.

- Chris Bergeron now owns 82 wins in his sixth year as Bowling Green head coach. He needs only two more to tie BGSU Hall of Famer Scott Paluch for fourth on the Falcons' all-time coaching wins list.

- Sophomore G Chris Nell posted a 2-0 shutout in BGSU's home opener on Saturday against Ohio State for his fourth career blanking tied for third-most in school history. Senior G Tommy Burke has 34 career victories, tied for 10tn-most in BGSU annals.

- Against their two weekend foes, the Falcons have gone undefeated in their eight games. BGSU is 3-0-1 all-time vs. Canisius and 4-0 vs. RIT.


Lake Superior State (0-2-0) vs. Northern Michigan (0-0-2)
Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich. and Taffy Abel Arena; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
Friday, October 16th and Saturday, October 17th (7:07 p.m. ET both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- Traditional UP rivals Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan meet in a home-and-home, nonconference series that will not count in the WCHA standings.

- LSSU opened regular season play last weekend in the Ice Breaker Tournament, held in Portland, Maine. The Lakers fell to then-No. 2 North Dakota and Michigan State.

- Saturday's game at Taffy Abel Arena will be part of the Great Lake State homecoming weekend, with former Laker great Ian Ward (1972-76) being honored as part of in-game ceremonies.

- For the first time in program history, NMU opened a season with two ties, skating to consecutive deadlocks at Wisconsin. Although it does not count for NCAA purposes, the Wildcats won the shootout both nights

- Atte Tolvanen became the first Wildcat to capture WCHA Rookie of the Week accolades since January of 2014 after making 66 saves tied for most in the nation on opening weekend on 71 shots against the Badgers.


No. 14/15 Minnesota State (0-2-0) at No. 12 St. Cloud State (NCHC; 2-0-0)
Herb Brooks National Hockey Center; St. Cloud, Minn.
Friday, October 16th at 7:37 p.m. CT and Saturday, October 17th at 7:07 p.m. CT

- No. 14 Minnesota State faces its second straight ranked opponent in No. 12 St. Cloud State, after the Mavericks opened 2015-16 with a pair of nonconference home losses to now-No. 3 Omaha last weekend (3-2 and 2-0).

- MSU outshot Omaha in both games last weekend, 26-25 on Friday and by a 40-18 margin on Saturday.

- A member of the 2014-14 WCHA All-Rookie team, sophomore F C.J. Franklin got his first goal of the season in Friday's game vs. Omaha. Franklin has 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points in 39 career games with Minnesota State.

- Senior F Jimmy Mullin, who played three years at Miami (NCHC) before taking a medical redshirt last year, scored his first goal as a Maverick in last Friday's game vs. UNO. Mullin has 19-2948 in 96 career games as a collegiate hockey player.

- St. Cloud State is one of Minnesota State's oldest and most-played opponents, with the two programs having faced each other 132 times since the first meeting in 1969-70. The Mavericks own a 69-53-10 record vs. the Huskies.


EXHIBITION

Alabama Huntsville vs. Alabama
Huntsville IcePlex; Huntsville, Ala.
Saturday, Oct. 17 at 6:00 p.m. CT

- UAH will be away from NCAA competition this week, as the Blue and White will take on the University of Alabama club team in an exhibition match this Saturday. The Chargers last played Alabama at the outset of the 2012-13 campaign, coming away with wins of 12-1 and 10-0.

- UAH opened the 2015-16 season with a series split with visiting Hockey East affiliate Connecticut this past weekend, dropping the opener on Friday by 5-2 and the winning in the finale be a score of 5-2.

- Sophomore Brennan Saulnier had five points from three goals and two assists in the two-game set to earn WCHA Player of the Week honors. His career best two goals and two assists for four points in Saturday's 5-2 victory to make him one of nine players in the nation to score five or more points during opening weekend.

- On Saturday, the Chargers' top line of Max McHugh, Chad Brears and Saulnier combined for four goals and five assists for nine points, which is the highest mark for one Charger line since 2006.