WCHA Weekend Preview: Jan. 29 - 31, 2016
News and notes for the upcoming weekend of WCHA hockey
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Alaska Anchorage hosts a two-game set against Alabama Huntsville

Opening Face-Off

- Three WCHA Teams in USCHO.com Top 20: For the second consecutive week, the WCHA has three teams in the USCHO.com rankings: No. 17 Michigan Tech, No. 18 Bowling Green and No. 19 Minnesota State.

- Winning Hockey: The WCHA has 60 percent of its membership (six of 10 teams) playing .500-or-better hockey, the second-best league-wide distribution among all NCAA conferences (ECAC Hockey has nine of 12 teams at-or-above .500, for 75 percent).

- Competitive Balance: Seventeen (17) of the first 47 WCHA series this season have resulted in splits, with an additional four ending in a pair of ties. There have been just 16 league sweeps to date (including two of three last weekend), along with 10 three-point weekends.

- Don't Leave Your Seats: Forty-seven (49) of the first 94 WCHA games have been either ties (18) or one-goal decisions (31), with 28 overtime contests. Twenty-one (21) league games have featured a tie-breaking, third-period game-winning goal (including seven in the last five minutes of regulation), with an additional 10 victories coming in overtime.

- Talons Up: Bowling Green, which ranks fifth nationally by allowing just 1.85 goals per game, has held its opponents to three goals-or-less in a school-record 21-consecutive games (eclipsing a 14-game streak during the 2012-13 season). Falcons' sophomore G Chris Nell leads the NCAA with a .943 save percentage and ranks second with a 1.46 goals-against average.

- Quickly Around the WCHA: Over his last three starts (since Dec. 18), UAH junior G Matt Larose has gone 2-0-1 with a 1.51 GAA and .957 save percentage (while averaging 36.3 stops per contest) ... UAA senior F Blake Tatchell remains three points shy of becoming the 23rd Seawolf to reach the 100-point milestone, standing at 97 for his career (28g-69a) ... Senior F Alec Hajdukovich has the game-winning goal in each of UAF's last three victories (during an eight-game span in which the Nanooks are 3-3-2) ... BSU leads the WCHA and ranks fifth nationally in combined special teams at 55.7 percent (112-for-201); the Beavers are third in the country for penalty-kill efficiency at 90.2 percent (92-of-102) ... BGSU's 12 goals last weekend were its most in a regular season series since Jan. 7-8, 2005; 10 different Falcons scored goals, including three freshmen with their first collegiate markers ... During FSU's current five-game unbeaten streak, freshman G Darren Smith is 3-0-2 with 126 saves, a .933 save percentage and 1.74 goals-against average ... LSSU leads the nation with 125 power-play attempts and is fifth with a WCHA-high 113 times on the penalty kill ... MTU's 16 upperclassmen have combined for 118 points (45g-73a), the 13th-best total in the NCAA (second in the WCHA, behind FSU's 123) ... MSU is 13-3-5 (.738) in the 21 games in which freshman F Max Coatta has played; the rookie had three points last weekend (2g-1a) ... NMU senior G Mathias Dahlström earned the win Jan. 16 against Alaska (35 saves), his first start since Oct. 16 and just his second since suffering an injury Jan. 30, 2015.


WCHA.tv

- Six (6) WCHA games this weekend can be viewed live (or archived) via WCHA.tv.


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

WCHA

No. 17 Michigan Tech (10-6-2, 22 pts. WCHA / 13-7-4) at No. 18 Bowling Green (11-3-4, 26 pts. WCHA / 15-7-5)
BGSU Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio – Fri, Jan. 29 and Sat., Jan. 30 (7:07 p.m. ET both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- One of college hockey's top series this weekend is in Bowling Green, Ohio, as the No. 18 Falcons host the No. 17 Huskies in a battle of MacNaughton Cup contenders.

- BGSU is 6-0-4 at home against WCHA opponents, while MTU is 6-2-1 on the road in league play (including 5-0-1 in the Huskies' last six WCHA away contests).

- BGSU is coming off of a series sweep over Alaska Anchorage last weekend, in which the Falcons' 12 goals were its most in a regular season series since 2005. MTU was idle.

- BGSU sophomore F Brandon Hawkins had a three-goal and five-point series against Alaska Anchorage, and now has five goals and nine points in his last seven games.

- Bowling Green, which ranks fifth nationally by allowing just 1.85 goals per game, has held its opponents to three goals-or-less in a school-record 21-consecutive games

- Tech is 11-0-1 when it finds the back of the net three or more times, including a 4-0-0 record when scoring three goals, a 3-0-1 mark when scoring four and a perfect 4-0-0 record when notching five or more goals in a game.

- Michigan Tech leads the WCHA in numerous categories when playing on the road or in neutral-site games. The Huskies are tops in the conference in winning percentage (.700), goals/game (3.13), goal margin (+14), power-play efficiency (21.2%), shots on goal/game (31.20) and shot on goal margin (+72).

- BGSU and MTU split a weekend series Nov. 13 and 14 in Houghton, and Tech holds a 12-9-2 edge in the all-time series.


Alabama Huntsville (3-12-3, 9 pts. WCHA / 5-16-3) at Alaska Anchorage (6-10-2, 14 pts. WCHA / 9-12-3)
Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Alaska – Fri., Jan. 29 and Sat., Jan. 30 (7:07 p.m. AT both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- Two teams jockeying for the final playoff spots in the WCHA clash as Alabama Huntsville visits Alaska Anchorage. Both teams were idle last weekend.

- Huntsville junior G Matt Larose has gone 2-0-1 over his last three starts, posting a 1.51 goals against average and a save percentage of .957

- UAH sophomore F Max McHugh has moved into a tie for fourth in the conference scoring race, tallying 16 points (4g-12a) in 18 WCHA games.

- UAA senior F Blake Tatchell is currently three points shy of the becoming the 23rd Seawolf to reach the 100-point milestone, standing at 97 for his career (28g-69a).

- Seawolves' F Mason Mitchell is tied for second among WCHA freshmen with 12 points this season, on the strength of three goals and nine assists.

- The Seawolves lead the all-time series record (19-4-2) and are a perfect 13-0-0 on home ice. The two teams are tied in their last six meetings (2-2-2), with UAA earning three points Oct. 23-24 in Huntsville.


NONCONFERENCE Minnesota Duluth (5-8-3-1 NCHC / 8-10-5) at Northern Michigan (7-7-4, 18 pts. WCHA / 9-9-6)
Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich. – Fri., Jan. 29 and Sat., Jan. 30 (7:07 p.m. ET both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- Northern Michigan (4-2-3 at home this season) will host Minnesota Duluth for the first time since Oct. 9, 2010 in a WCHA-NCHC matchup.

- During the Wildcats' last series, a split Jan. 15-16 against Alaska, 13 different NMU players recorded at least one point, while six recorded two.

- Making his first start since Oct. 16, NMU senior G Mathias Dahlström made 35 saves, including a 20-save third period, in the Wildcats' 5-3 win over Alaska Jan. 16. Freshman netminder Atte Tolvanen ranks 12th nationally (third amongst rookies) with a .932 save percentage

- Wildcats' junior F Dominik Shine has 13 points in his last 10 games (9g-4a).

- The Wildcats and Bulldogs met last year in Duluth, with UMD winning both games.


Alaska (5-11-4, 14 pts. WCHA / 7-13-4) at Wisconsin (1-7-2-1, 6 pts. Big Ten / 4-12-6)
Kohl Center; Madison, Wis. – Fri., Jan. 29 and Sat., Jan. 30 (7:00 p.m. CT both nights)

- Alaska, who hasn't played a nonconference opponent since Oct. 17, travels to Madison this weekend for a series against the Badgers.

- The Nanooks haven't been in action since Jan. 15-16, where they split a road series against Northern Michigan.

- In Alaska's split with the Wildcats, three senior forwards for the Nanooks had a multi-point weekend: Nolan Huysmans (2-2 – 4), Alec Hajdukovich (2-1 – 3) and Tyler Morley (1-1 – 2).

- The Nanooks have gone 3-3-2 in their last eight contests. Hajdukovich has the game-winning goal in each of UAF's three victories during this time.

- The teams last met Oct. 10, 2014 at the Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage, with a goal by current NHL rookie Colton Parayko giving the Nanooks a 1-0 victory. Wisconsin leads the all-time series, 7-1-0.


No. 19 Minnesota State (12-3-5, 29 pts. WCHA / 13-8-5) vs. No. 3 St. Cloud State (12-3-1-1 NCHC / 20-5-1)
Bemidji State (7-9-4, 18 pts. WCHA / 10-10-5) vs. No. 20 Minnesota (8-2-0-0 Big Ten / 13-10-0)
North Star College Cup - Xcel Energy Center; St. Paul, Minn. (Sat., Jan. 30 and Sun., Jan. 31)

- Returning champion Bemidji State will defend its 2015 North Star College Cup crown at the Xcel Energy Center against a field that includes the current first-place teams in the WCHA (No. 19 Minnesota State), Big Ten (No. 20 Minnesota) and NCHC (No. 3 St. Cloud State).

- Minnesota State will face St. Cloud State in the first semifinal Jan. 30 at 1:00 p.m. CT, while Bemidji State skates against Minnesota at 4:00 p.m. CT. The third-place game will be Jan. 31 at 1:00 p.m., followed by the championship game at 4:00 p.m.

- The Mavericks are coming off a home sweep of Lake Superior State in which they were led by WCHA Co-Offensive Player of the Week, sophomore F C.J. Franklin (3g-2a); and, Defensive Player of the Week, junior G Cole Huggins (2-0-0 with a .975 save percentage and 0.50 goals-against average).

- Minnesota State, which has outshot its opponents in 20 of their 26 games on the season, ranks first in the nation for fewest shots on goal allowed per game (21.8) and second in shots on goal margin with a +11.89 SOGM mark.

- After going 2-9-2 to open the season, Michael Bitzer is 4-1-2 over his last seven appearances, stopping 163-of-171 shots (.953) with a 1.11 goals against average in 430:47 minutes during that span.

- On the season, BSU has surrendered 10 power-play goals in 102 opponent opportunities. At over 90 percent (.902), BSU is third in the country in penalty-kill success.