WCHA Week 8: Full Slate Of Five League Series Await On Thanksgiving Weekend
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Alabama Huntsville hosts Bemidji State in a rare Wednesday-Friday series in Huntsville. The Beavers and Chargers met in NCAA D-II national championship games in 1994 (BSU), 1996 (UAH) and 1998 (UAH).

Opening Face-Off

- Falcons and Huskies in Top 20: No. 15 Bowling Green and No. 19 Michigan Tech remain in the same spots as the WCHA representatives in this week's USCHO.com poll. Both schools are receiving votes in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine poll, while Minnesota State and Alaska Anchorage received votes in the USCHO.com ledger.

- Competitive Balance: Six of the WCHA's ten teams are at .500 or better, while three are in the top 20 nationally for winning percentage: Bowling Green (16th at .654, 7-3-3), Michigan Tech (18th at .625, 7-4-1) and Alaska Anchorage (tied for 20th at .583, 6-4-2).

- Working Overtime: Nine of the 12 games involving WCHA teams this past weekend went to overtime, including six of the eight league contests. The last time there were six OT games in one regular-season WCHA weekend was Jan. 3-4, 2003 (four ties). Six of the 12 WCHA First Round playoff games in 2008 required extra hockey (March 14-16). For the season, 25 of 82 games involving WCHA teams have gone to OT (30.5 percent), including 13 of 40 league contests (32.5 percent).

- Fit to Be Tied: Seven of the 12 games involving WCHA teams this weekend resulted in ties, including five of the eight league contests (and two entire series - UAF at FSU and MSU at NMU). Saturday night marked the first time since Feb. 10, 2007 that three WCHA league games ended in a tie. For the season, there have been 16 ties in 82 games involving WCHA teams (19.5 percent), including nine of 40 league contests (22.5 percent). In addition to the nine ties, an additional 16 WCHA league games have been one-goal affairs.

- Points for Everyone: There have been only five sweeps over the first 20 WCHA series of the season (20.0 percent). By contrast, 13 of the first 20 league sets in 2014-15 were sweeps (65.0 percent). As a result, only three points separate the top five teams in the WCHA standings at the virtual quarter mark of the league season.

- All-Freshmen Goaltending Series: Two WCHA series this past weekend featured a freshman goaltender starting both games on either side, with all four games ending in ties: Alaska (Jesse Jenks) at Ferris State (Darren Smith) and Minnesota State (Jason Pawloski) at Northern Michigan (Atte Tolvanen).

- Talons Up: Backed by sophomore goaltender Chris Nell, Bowling Green leads the WCHA and ranks tenth nationally by yielding only 2.00 goals per game. Nell, who has yielded two-or-fewer goals in seven of his nine starts, ranks fifth in the NCAA with a .948 save percentage and sixth with a 1.46 goals-against average. BGSU leads the WCHA and is tenth nationally by allowing just 2.00 goals per game.


By the Numbers

- 9(a): Home unbeaten streak for Bowling Green (7-0-2), the second-longest active streak in the country and the longest for the Falcons since a 20-game run across the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons. The Falcons are 3-0-2 this year at the "Madhouse on Mercer."

- 9(b): Power-play points by Bemidji State senior defenseman Graeme McCormack, tops in the WCHA and tied for the most in the country. All of McCormack's points this season (four goals and five assists) have come on the Beavers' power play.

- 34: Years between Michigan Tech victories in East Lansing. When Tyler Heinonen's OT goal lifted the Huskies to a 5-4 win this past Saturday, it marked Tech's first at Michigan State since Dec. 12, 1981. Of course, the teams did not play in East Lansing from 1986-2015.


The Week Ahead

- Bemidji State at Alabama Huntsville: The storied rivals from D-II, CHA and the WCHA will meet in a rare Wednesday-Friday series in Huntsville. The Beavers and Chargers met in NCAA D-II national championship games in 1994 (BSU), 1996 (UAH) and 1998 (UAH).

- Northern Michigan at No. 15 Bowling Green: Two of the NCAA's top-15 goaltenders by GAA meet as NMU's Atte Tolvanen stands opposite BGSU's Chris Nell. The Falcons lead the Wildcats by a point in the WCHA standings. BGSU is 7-0-2 in its last nine home games.

- Ferris State at Lake Superior State: Fresh off a three-point road weekend (at Bemidji State), the Lakers return home to face the Bulldogs. FSU has taken two points from every league series thus far.

- Alaska Anchorage at Minnesota State: The Mavericks, who remain tied for the WCHA lead with 12 points, welcome the upstart Seawolves. UAA captured three points in its only other league road series this season (at Alabama Huntsville).

- No. 19 Michigan Tech at Alaska: The Nanooks return home after a four-game road trip (1-1-2) to face a Huskies team that is 4-1-1 in their last six games. MTU is playing in Fairbanks for the first time since a two-game sweep Nov. 29 and 30, 2013.


The Week in Review

- Nine of the 12 games involving WCHA teams went to overtime, including six of eight league contests.

- Seven of this past weekend's 12 games resulted in ties, including five WCHA contests.

- No. 15 Bowling Green earned a sweep over visiting Alabama Huntsville with a pair of close wins in games that were heavily influenced by special teams play.

- Two series resulted in a full slate of ties - Alaska at Ferris State and Minnesota State at Northern Michigan.

- Lake Superior State picked up three of a possible four points at Bemidji State thanks to superb goaltending from sophomore Gordon Defiel, who stopped 80-of-83 shots on the weekend.

- Alaska Anchorage returned to nonconference play by hosting Big Ten opponent Penn State, finishing 0-1-1 against the Nittany Lions.

- No. 19 Michigan Tech traveled to East Lansing for the first time since 1986 and made sure 29 years was worth the wait, going 1-0-1 in a pair of overtime contests at Michigan State.

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


at No. 15 Bowling Green 3, Alabama Huntsville 2 OT
at No. 15 Bowling Green 4, Alabama Huntsville 3
(Nov. 20 and 21 at BGSU Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio)

No. 15 Bowling Green earned a sweep over visiting Alabama Huntsville with a pair of close wins in games that were heavily influenced by special teams play.

All five goals scored on Friday night came on power play opportunities including three by the victorious Falcons, who entered the game just 2-for-34 with the man advantage. BGSU and UAH exchanged goals through the first three periods to end regulation tied 2-2, setting the stage for Falcons' sophomore F Brandon Hawkins to bury his first goal of the year in dramatic fashion an unassisted, game-winning strike 2:08 into overtime.

Saturday's series finale saw another close match that was decided in an exciting third period that included five of the game's seven goals being scored. BGSU's Matt Pohlkamp was the star of the game with a career-high four points off two goals and two assists. Brent Tate and Pierre-Luc Mercier also scored for the Falcons, who withstood goals from UAH's Brandon Parker and Brent Fletcher in the last 1:30 for the win.

BGSU sophomore goaltender Chris Nell earned both wins, stopping 49 shots on the weekend.


at Ferris State 2, Alaska 2 - OT
at Ferris State 3, Alaska 3 OT
(Nov. 20 and 21 at Ewigleben Ice Arena; Big Rapids, Mich.)

Neither Alaska nor Ferris State was able to emerge as a winner in their weekend series, with the teams battling to a pair of draws and each leaving with two points apiece.

Ferris State had leads of both 1-0 (on a Sean O'Rourke goal) and 2-1 (on a Corey Mackin strike) during Friday night's game, but Alec Hajdukovich and Josh Atkinson countered for the Nanooks.

Saturday night, it looked as though the Bulldogs might escape with a 3-2 victory following a third-period goal by Matt Robertson. However, the Nanooks' Nolan Huysmans scored on a 6-4 advantage (power play plus the extra attacker) with just 42 seconds remaining to force the tie.

The series featured an all-freshman matchup in goal, with Alaska's Jesse Jenks (75 saves) and Ferris State's Darren Smith (70 stops) each backstopping their teams to two-point weekends.


at Northern Michigan 1, Minnesota State 1 OT
at Northern Michigan 2, Minnesota State 2 OT
(Nov. 20 and 21 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich.)

Minnesota State was on the road against Northern Michigan for another series that ended in a pair of ties thanks primarily to the great work of Wildcats' freshman goaltender Atte Tolvanen, who negated the Mavericks' 66-28 edge in shots on goal.

MSU held a 31-15 edge in shots on Friday, but Tolvanen kept his team in the game with 30 saves including 11 in the third period and overtime. Both goals came in the second period, first by the Mavericks' Brad McClure and then by the Wildcats' Cohen Adair.

Saturday was more of the same, with the Wildcats being outshot 35-13 but surviving for the 2-2 tie. Goals by Zach Diamantoni and John Siemer gave NMU a 2-1 lead heading into the third period, but the Mavericks' C.J. Franklin tied the game just 3:08 into the final stanza. Minnesota State freshman Steen Cooper scored his first collegiate goal earlier in the contest.

Tolvanen finished the weekend by making 63 saves on the 66 shots, while his counterpart, fellow freshman Jason Pawloski, turned back 25-of-28 NMU shots.


Lake Superior State 3, at Bemidji State 2
At Bemidji State 1, Lake Superior State 1 OT
(Nov. 20 and 21 at Sanford Center; Bemidji, MN)

Lake Superior State picked up three of a possible four points at Bemidji State thanks to superb goaltending from sophomore Gordon Defiel, who stopped 80-of-83 shots on the weekend.

After building a 2-0 lead on a first-period goal by Gus Correale and a second-period strike by Mitch Hults, the Lakers held on for a 3-2 win behind 33 Defiel saves on Friday. The first collegiate goal from freshman Anthony Nellis proved to be the game-winner, overcoming Bemidji State power-play goals by Graeme McCormack and Gerry Fitzgerald.

Defense was the name of the game Saturday night, as each team's lone goal came in the first period (LSSU's Alex Globke, followed by BSU's Markus Gerbrandt). Beavers' goaltender Reid Mimmack had an impressive 30-save night for his team, but Defiel put together a career-best 47-stop effort.


Penn State 5, at Alaska Anchorage 2
at Alaska Anchorage 1, Penn State 1 OT
(Nov. 20 and 21 at Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Alaska)

Alaska Anchorage returned to nonconference play by hosting Big Ten opponent Penn State, finishing 0-1-1 against the Nittany Lions.

Penn State jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead within the first ten minutes of Friday's game, but the Seawolves responded with two of their own by Dylan Hubbs and Nicolas Erb-Elkholm (the freshman's first career score). However, PSU scored twice in the second and once more in the third period for the win.

Mason Mitchell got the Seawolves out to a quick, 1-0 lead early in the first period Saturday night, a score that would hold until the 6:31 mark of the third period. Penn State registered 19 shots on net in the third period alone, but UAA netminder Oliver Mantha held off 18 of those (and three more in OT) to help his team secure the 1-1 tie.


No. 19 Michigan Tech 5, at Michigan State 4 OT
No. 19 Michigan Tech 4, at Michigan State 4 OT
(Nov. 21 and 22 at Munn Ice Arena; East Lansing, Mich.)

No. 19 Michigan Tech traveled to East Lansing for the first time since 1986 and made sure 29 years was worth the wait, going 1-0-1 in a pair of overtime contests at Michigan State.

Saturday night's series opener was a back and forth affair that was tied 4-4 after regulation following Mark Auk's equalizer at the 18:20 mark of the third period. In the final minute of overtime, Tech's Tyler Heinonen scored the game-winner, giving the Huskies a come-from-behind, 5-4 victory their first in East Lansing since Dec. 12, 1981. The goal was Heinonen's second of the game, while he also had two assists for a career-high four points.

During Sunday afternoon's series finale, Michigan Tech found themselves down 4-2 late in the third period. At 16:07, Heinonen again scored for the Huskies and put them in position to add an extra attacker in the closing minutes. With only 51 seconds left and with an empty MTU net, Malcolm Gould scored the game-tying goal to force overtime. Freshman Jake Lucchini scored his first career goal for the Huskies, while adding an assist during a career-best two-point night.