WCHA Week 4: Season Kicks Into High Gear With First Weekend Of Five League Series
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Lake Superior State hosts Alabama Huntsville in Sault Ste. Marie this weekend

Opening Face-Off

- Falcons, Huskies Represent WCHA in Polls: No. 12 Bowling Green and No. 18 Michigan Tech are ranked in the latest USCHO.com poll, while Minnesota State, Northern Michigan and Alaska Anchorage are in the "receiving votes" column. The Falcons hold the same ranking in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine top 15 poll, where the Huskies are receiving votes.

- Sophomore Sharpshooters: A quartet of WCHA sophomores are off to dynamic starts. Alabama Huntsville linemates Brennan Saulnier (4g-3a--7pts in four games; 1.75ppg) and Max McHugh (3g-3a--6pts in four games; 1.50ppg) are tied for 10th and 13th, respectively, in the country for points per game. Alaska's Tayler Munson (4g-2--6pts in four games) is also tied for 13th with 1.50 points per game, while he and Saulnier are tied for sixth nationally by averaging a goal per contest. Bemidji State's Gerry Fitzgerald, who has found the back of the net in all five games, is fourth among all D-I players with 1.20 goals per game and is tied for second with six scores overall.

- Early Momentum in Anchorage: After taking three of four WCHA points last weekend on the road, Alaska Anchorage is tied for the country's 11th-best winning percentage at .750 (4-1-1). The Seawolves, who have scored at least three goals in five of their six games, lead the WCHA and are tied for 15th nationally by averaging 3.50 goals per contest (21 total).

- Splitsville, Michigan: The WCHA's four Michigan teams have spent most of the early season playing - and beating - each other. Two weeks ago, Michigan Tech and Ferris State opened WCHA play with a split in Big Rapids, while Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State each won a game in a home-and-home, nonconference set. This past weekend, NMU and No. 16 MTU each posted a victory over the other - with the Wildcats' win representing one of just two last week for a nonranked team against a ranked opponent (in 18 games nationally, with New Hampshire's win triumph over No. 18 Union being the other).

- Packing the UP: Northern Michigan and No. 16 Michigan Tech played in front of a combined 8,726 fans in consecutive sellouts this past weekend, with 4,260 jamming into the Berry Events Center and another 4,466 filling each seat at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.


By the Numbers

- 2: Short-handed goals Friday for Minnesota State in a 3-2 road win at Bemidji State (most against BSU since UMD had 2 on Feb. 26, 2005). The first shorty snapped MSU's scoreless streak at 213:58; the second gave the Mavericks their first win of the season.

- 4: WCHA teams in the top 13 nationally for power play efficiency: No. 6 Bemidji State (33.3 pct.), No. 7 Michigan Tech (31.2). No. 11 Northern Michigan (26.1) and No. 13 Alaska Anchorage (23.1).

- 5: Freshman goaltenders who have started - and won - in the WCHA this season. 19-year-old Nick Kossoff became the first Lake Superior State netminder to record a shutout in his collegiate debut; Northern Michigan's Atte Tolvanen leads all NCAA rookies with 163 saves, while Alaska's Jesse Jenks, Minnesota State's Jason Pawlowski and Ferris State's Darren Smith all have a victory to their name.

- 399: Career coaching victories for Bob Daniels, all at Ferris State. Currently in his 24th season behind the Bulldogs bench, Daniels is 27th on the NCAA Division I all-time wins list (eighth among active coaches).


The Week Ahead

- WCHA Schedule Kicks Into High Gear: For the first time this season, all 10 WCHA teams will be in action; and, accordingly, this weekend will be the first featuring five league series.

- No. 12 Bowling Green at Alaska Anchorage: The 4-1-1 Seawolves face perhaps their toughest test to date, welcoming the No. 12 Falcons to Anchorage for a Saturday-Sunday series in which both games will be played at 2:07 p.m. local time.

- Alabama Huntsville at Lake Superior State: Two teams looking to make an early-season statement in WCHA play will meet in Sault Ste. Marie, with the Lakers hosting the Chargers - along with LSSU's annual "Pink in the Rink" event on Saturday evening.

- Ferris State at No. 18 Michigan Tech: Just two weeks after opening the WCHA schedule with a split against each other in Big Rapids, the Bulldogs and Huskies will wrap up their 2015-16 season series with a weekend set in Houghton.

- Alaska at Minnesota State: Idle last weekend after winning their own Brice Alaska Goal Rush, the Nanooks will travel to Mankato to face the Mavericks - who rebounded from a 0-4-0 start by sweeping BSU last weekend in their WCHA opener.

- Bemidji State at Northern Michigan: The Beavers will attempt to bounce back from suffering a home sweep by making their first weekend-long road trip of the season, a journey to Marquette to face the host Wildcats.


The Week in Review Games of Oct. 9-10, 2015

- All three WCHA series were highly competitive, featuring three one-goal games, a tie and a series split.

- Alaska Anchorage improved to 4-1-1 and took three of four points on the road at Alabama Huntsville.

- In a series defined by special-teams play, Minnesota State posted a pair of 3-2 victories at Bemidji State.

- Playing in front of packed houses in both venues, Northern Michigan and No. 16 Michigan Tech split a home-and-home series.

- WCHA teams went 2-1-1 against Big Ten opponents, with Lake Superior State earning a tough road split at Michigan State and Ferris State going 1-0-1 at home against Wisconsin.

- Full recaps, box scores and select video highlights are available online at wcha.com.


Alaska Anchorage 3, at Alabama Huntsville 3 OT
Alaska Anchorage 3, at Alabama Huntsville 2
(Oct. 23 and 24 at Von Braun Center; Huntsville, Alabama)

Alaska Anchorage improved to 4-1-1 and took three of four points in a tightly-contested WCHA series at Alabama Huntsville.

In Friday night's series opener, it was UAA that struck first with a power-play goal from Jeremiah Luedtke, followed by another score from Matt Anholt to take a 20 lead after the first. UAH responded in the second period by scoring three goals in the first eight minutes of the period, as Brandon Parker had two assists and Brennan Saulnier potted his fourth goal of the young season. Seawolves' senior F Blake Tatchell delivered the game-tying strike at the 2:50 mark of the third.

Alaska Anchorage again took a 2-0 lead Saturday behind goals from Anthony Conti and Dylan Hubbs. UAH received the first career goal from freshman Jetlan Houcher and twice came within one goal, but fell by a final of 3-2 despite a 39-22 advantage in shots. UAA goaltender Olivier Mantha finished the night with 37 stops and the weekend with a WCHA-high 72 saves (third-most in the country last week).


Minnesota State 3, at Bemidji State 2
Minnesota State 3, at Bemidji State 2
(Oct. 23 and 24 at Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn.)

In a series marked by special-teams play (with only three of a combined 10 goals coming at even strength), visiting Minnesota State earned its first wins of the season with a pair of one-goal victories at Bemidji State.

Bemidji State's penalty-kill unit stopped all six Minnesota State power-play opportunities Friday night, but the Mavericks twice scored while a man down to rally for a 3-2 win. Bryce Gervais' short-handed goal tied the contest 1-1 late in the first period, while Teddy Blueger's shorty at the 8:03 mark of the third was the game-winner.

Saturday night, it was the Minnesota State power play that was the decisive factor, with C.J. Franklin and Jon Jutzi (third-period game-winner) scoring with the man advantage. Bemidji State's Gerry Fitzgerald scored both nights on the Beavers' power play (his fifth and sixth goals of the season).

Mavericks' freshman netminder Jason Pawloski stopped 18-of-20 shots for the win Friday in his collegiate debut, while Cole Huggins made 27 saves Saturday for the win.


at Northern Michigan 4, No. 16 Michigan Tech 1
at No. 16 Michigan Tech 3, Northern Michigan 1
(Oct. 23 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich. and
Oct. 24 at John Maclnnes Student Ice Arena; Houghton, Mich.)

UP rivals Northern Michigan and No. 16 Michigan Tech faced off for a home-and-home series in which each team was able to pick up a win on their home ice in front of sellout crowds at both venues.

MTU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead Friday on a Michael Neville goal, but it was all Wildcats from there. NMU registered 46 shots, had four different players score and received multi-point efforts (1g-1a) from both Darren Nowick and John Siemer in a 4-1 victory.

The roles reversed in Saturday night's series finale as Tech outshot Northern Michigan 46-20 en route to a 3-1 win. Siemer gave the Wildcats a 1-0, first-period lead, but the Huskies scored all three of their goals in a six-minute span of the second stanza. Joel L'Esperance scored the game-winner on the power-play, and then assisted on another man-advantage strike to close the scoring.

The series featured some stout goaltending, with NMU freshman Atte Tolvanen stopping 63-of-67 shots (.940) and MTU senior Jamie Phillips turning aside 61-of-66 (.921).


at Ferris State 5, Wisconsin 5 OT
at Ferris State 2, Wisconsin 1
(Oct. 23 and 24 at Ewigleben Ice Arena; Big Rapids, Mich.)

Ferris State welcomed Wisconsin to Ewigleben Ice Arena for the first time ever, finishing the weekend undefeated including the Bulldogs' first win over the Badgers since 2005.

Friday's series opener turned into a shootout, featuring four lead changes and four ties. Ferris State's Gerald Mayhew scored the Bulldogs' first two goals; then, with his team trailing 4-2 early in the third, assisted on the first of three final-stanza goals for FSU. Tyler Andrew (tying goal) and Chad McDonald (go-ahead goal) provided heroics, but Wisconsin scored with less than a minute remaining in regulation and forced a 5-5 tie.

Defense and goaltending were the name of the game for Saturday's series finale. Freshman G Darren Smith backstopped the Bulldogs to victory, stopping 29-of-30 shots for his first collegiate win in his first-ever start. Freshman Ryker Killins netted his first career goal, while McDonald scored the game-winner just 48 seconds into the third period (and just 19 seconds after UW had tied the game).


Lake Superior State 4, at Michigan State 2
at Michigan State 2, Lake Superior State 0
(Oct. 22 and 23 at Munn Ice Arena; East Lansing, Mich.)

Lake Superior State earned its first true nonconference win of the season in the opener of a two-game series at Michigan State, but was unable to complete the sweep and settled for a well-earned road split.

A three-goal second period was the difference for LSSU on Thursday, as the Lakers erased an early 1-0 deficit en route to a 4-2 victory. Sophomore forward J.T. Henke led the way for LSSU, scoring the team's first goal and assisting on freshman C.J. Hayes' game-winner later in the frame. Michigan State made it a one-goal game early in the third, but Lakers' goaltender Gordon Defiel shut the door with a 29-save effort. Freshman Gage Torrel and senior Bryce Schmitt (short-handed) also scored for LSSU.

Freshman G Nick Kossoff made 28 saves Friday, but it was not enough as the Lakers were turned back on all 21 of their shots in a 2-0 loss.