WCHA Week 14: League Race Tightens As Michigan Tech Hosts No. 19 Minnesota State In Marquee Series
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Third-place Michigan Tech, five points off the pace, host league-leading Minnesota State in a key WCHA series.

Opening Face-Off

- Falcons and Mavericks in Top 20: The WCHA continues to be represented in the USCHO.com poll by No. 16 Bowling Green and No. 19 Minnesota State, with Desert Hockey Classic champion Michigan Tech receiving votes. The Falcons and Huskies are receiving votes in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine poll.

- Second Half Encore?: Last season, Bemidji State went 11-5-2 during the regular season's second half. The Beavers have opened 2016 by going 3-0-1 over two weekends in Alaska, while leading the WCHA (sixth nationally) with 4.50 goals per game. BSU scored six goals twice and five goals in a third contest, earning seven points in two weekends and jumping to fourth in the league standings.

- Rise and Shine: Reigning WCHA Player of the Month Dominik Shine upped his point streak to six-straight games and his goal binge to five-straight contests with goals in both games at Minnesota State. The Northern Michigan junior has a league-best 12 points in his last eight outings (8g-4a), vaulting from a tie for 91st in the league scoring race on Dec. 1 (1g-3a--4pts) to a tie for ninth (9g-7a--16pts).

- Turnaround Artists: Two WCHA teams - Alaska Anchorage (8-9-3) and Lake Superior State (8-12-4), who play this weekend in Sault Ste. Marie - are among the five NCAA schools to already match their 2014-15 win total. The Lakers are 6-4-2 in their last 12 games.

- Don't Leave Your Seats: Forty-four (44) of the first 80 WCHA games have been either ties (15) or one-goal decisions (29), with 23 overtime contests. Nineteen (19) league games have featured a tie-breaking, third-period game-winning goal (including six in the last five minutes of regulation), with an additional eight victories coming in overtime.

- Quickly Around the WCHA: UAH snapped an 11-game league winless drought with its 3-1 triumph Saturday ... UAA is on milestone watch, as the program is one victory shy of its 500th all-time (per school records) ... UAF senior F Tyler Morley has seven points (3g-4a) in 2016 and now leads the league with 21 overall (11g-10a) ... At 6-3-2, BSU has already surpassed its 2014-15 road victory total (4-10-3) ... Behind sophomore G Chris Nell (second nationally with 1.37 GAA and .947 save percentage), BGSU has held its opponents to three-or-fewer goals in 18-straight games and ranks fifth in the country for defense (1.83 gapg) ... FSU junior Gerald Mayhew is tied for second in the league with a career-high 13 assists ... All eight of LSSU's game-winning goals this season have been scored by its talented freshman class ... MTU, which hosts Minnesota State this weekend, has played just seven home games thus far, fewest in the WCHA ... Current league front-runner MSU is 51-12-9 (.771) in WCHA play since the start of the 2013-14 season ... NMU senior Darren Nowick is second in the WCHA with five goals and eight points since Dec. 1, trailing teammate Dominik Shine in both categories.


By the Numbers

- 96: Career points for UAA senior Blake Tatchell (28g-68a), four shy of becoming the 23rd Seawolf to reach the 100-point milestone. Tatchell would also join MTU's Alex Petan (121 pts) and UAF's Tyler Morley (113) as active WCHA players in the Century Club.


The Week Ahead

- No. 19 Minnesota State at Michigan Tech: The third-place Huskies, five points off the pace, host league-leading Minnesota State in a key WCHA series. Minnesota State won last season's MacNaughton Cup by a single point over Tech, then defeated MTU in the Broadmoor Trophy championship game at the 2015 Final Five.

- Alabama Huntsville at Ferris State: The Bulldogs, who have earned one point in each league series they have played this season, welcome the Chargers to Big Rapids. Two of UAH's three WCHA wins this year have come on the road (an Oct. 30-31 sweep at LSSU).

- Alaska Anchorage at Lake Superior State: Two teams fighting for a WCHA playoff spot meet in Michigan. The Lakers, 5-3-2 in their last 10 league games, have moved into seventh place with 14 points - just two out of fifth and two ahead of the eighth-place Seawolves.

- Alaska at Northern Michigan: After splitting last week at UAH, the Nanooks remain in the Lower 48 for a series in Marquette, Mich. The Wildcats are 4-1-3 (.688) at home this season.

- Nonconference: No. 16 Bowling Green plays a single game against in-state rival Miami on Saturday in Oxford, Ohio. Bemidji State, meanwhile, welcomes D-I newcomer Arizona State to the Sanford Center for a two-game set.


The Week in Review

- Two teams jockeying for the eighth and final WCHA playoff spot split a pair of contests in Huntsville, with Alaska winning the opener and UAH earning the split with a victory in the finale.

- Bemidji State scored 11 goals over two games to earn a road sweep at Alaska Anchorage and finish its two-week stay in the Last Frontier at 3-0-1.

- Completing a highly-competitive four-game season series that saw the teams score a combined nine goals and finish 1-1-2, No. 16 Bowling Green and Lake Superior State split a pair in Sault Ste. Marie.

- Northern Michigan opened a series in Mankato with its first ever win at the Verizon Wireless Center, before then-No. 18 Minnesota State bounced back to salvage a split on Saturday.

- Behind the clutch goaltending of senior Jamie Phillips, timely scoring and a shootout win in the title game, Michigan Tech emerged as the champion of the first-ever Desert Hockey Classic..

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


Alaska 6, at Alabama Huntsville 3
at Alabama Huntsville 3, Alaska 1
Jan. 8 and 9 at Von Braun Center; Huntsville, Ala.

Two teams jockeying for the eighth and final WCHA playoff spot split a pair of contests in Huntsville, with Alaska winning the opener and UAH earning the split with a victory in the finale.

Friday night's contest was an entertaining affair in the WCHA's nationally-televised debut on the American Sports Network (ASN). UAH jumped out to a 2-0, first period lead, but the Nanooks scored five of the game's final six goals - including all three in the third period to snap a 3-3 tie and win, 6-3. Marcus Basara (1g-1a), Tyler Morley (1g-1a) and Nolan Husymans (2a) all had multi-point efforts for UAF, while Alec Hajdukovich scored the game-winner just 11 seconds into the final stanza.

The host Chargers bounced back for a 3-1 win Saturday behind goaltender Matt Larose, who came within 1:59 of a shutout. The junior made 28 saves, while Huntsville native Josh Kestner scored twice for UAH.


Bemidji State 6, at Alaska Anchorage 3
Bemidji State 5, at Alaska Anchorage 1
Jan. 8 and 9 at Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Alaska

Bemidji State scored 11 goals over two games to earn a road sweep at Alaska Anchorage and finish its two-week stay in the Last Frontier at 3-0-1. With the two wins, the Beavers are now 9-1-4 all-time against the Seawolves, including a 13-game unbeaten run (9-0-4).

Deadlocked at 2-2 after the first period, BSU scored four of the game's final five goals over the second and third stanzas. Kyle Bauman's second marker of the night, at the 18:33 mark of the second period, stood as the game-winner. In all, 13 different Beavers recorded a point, including Cory Ward (1g-1a).

The two teams were scoreless heading into the third period Saturday, but the Beavers exploded for five goals - their most in a single period since also scoring five in the second stanza against Robert Morris on March 7, 2009. Jordan Heller, Nate Arentz (game-winner), Gerry Fitzgerald, Ward and Jordan Heller all scored in a 5-1 BSU victory.


No. 16 Bowling Green 3, at Lake Superior State 1
at Lake Superior State 1, No. 16 Bowling Green 0 - OT
Jan. 8 and 9 at Taffy Abel Arena; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

Completing a highly-competitive four-game season series that saw the teams score a combined nine goals and finish 1-1-2, No. 16 Bowling Green and Lake Superior State split a pair in Sault Ste. Marie.

Bowling Green earned the 3-1 win in the opener, suing a second-period goal from Mark Cooper and a third-period, power-play strike from Brandon Hawkins (game-winner) to build a 2-0 lead. After Ryan Renz scored for the Lakers, the Falcons' Tyler Spezia added an empty-netter for the final margin. BGSU goaltender Chris Nell made 24 saves in the win, while LSSU freshman Nick Kossoff turned aside 39-of-41 shots.

LSSU freshman Diego Cuglietta played the hero Saturday night, re-directing a shot from fellow rookie Matt McArdle for the game's only goal just 1:23 into overtime. Lakers' netminder Gordon Defiel made 25 saves for the shutout, outdueling Nell (31 stops).


Northern Michigan 3, at No. 18 Minnesota State 1
at No. 18 Minnesota State 1, Northern Michigan 3
Jan. 8 and 9 at Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn.

Northern Michigan opened a series in Mankato with its first ever win at the Verizon Wireless Center, before then-No. 18 Minnesota State bounced back to salvage a split on Saturday.

NMU freshman goaltender Atte Tolvanen was the story in Friday's 3-1 Wildcats win, making 41 saves to negate Minnesota State's 42-20 advantage in shots. The rookie turned aside six shots in the first period, 17 in the second and 18 in the third. Darren Nowick scored twice and had an assist, while Dominik Shine scored the game-winner (snapping a 1-1 tie at the 13:56 mark of the second period). Shine also added a pair of helpers. The Mavericks' Brett Knowles scored a short-handed marker for MSU.

Freshman forward Max Coatta had a hand in all three Mavericks' goals Saturday, helping Minnesota State bounce back for a 3-1 win. Shine gave NMU an early 1-0 lead, but Coatta had assists on Jon Jutzi's equalizer, Dylan Margonari's game-winning goal and Casey Nelson's marker with three minutes remaining that put the game away. Wildcats' freshman Mathias Israelsson made 40 saves in the NMU net.


Michigan Tech 4, vs. Connecticut 2
Michigan Tech 1, vs. No. 12 Yale 1 - OT (MTU wins shootout, 1-0)
Desert Hockey Classic
Jan. 8 and 10 at Gila River Arena; Glendale, Ariz.

Behind the clutch goaltending of senior Jamie Phillips, timely scoring and a shootout win in the title game, Michigan Tech emerged as the champion of the first-ever Desert Hockey Classic.

Playing at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz. (home of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes), Tech and No. 12 Yale played to a 1-1 tie in Sunday's championship game. Both goals came in the third period, with the Huskies' Dylan Steman scoring the equalizer just 2:24 into the frame. After a scoreless OT that featured two stops by Phillips, the Winnipeg Jets' draftee denied all three Yale attempts in a shootout. Alex Petan found the back of the net on MTU's first shot, as the Huskies lifted the trophy.

Michigan Tech earned a berth in the championship game with a 4-2 victory over Connecticut in the semifinals. After falling behind 1-0, the Huskies rattled off four-straight goals spanning the 14:14 mark of the first period to the 5:27 point of the third. Brent Baltus, Steman, Alex Gillies (game-winner) and Shane Hanna all scored for Tech.

Phillips finished the weekend with 43 saves (on 46 shots).