WCHA Week 13: Second Half Of League Season Kicks Into Gear With Four Series; Michigan Tech Travels To Arizona For Desert Hockey Classic
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Michigan Tech will participate in its second-consecutive tournament, traveling to Glendale, Ariz. for the inaugural Desert Hockey Classic.

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. 18 Minnesota State, with Michigan Tech receiving votes. All three teams are receiving votes in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine poll.

- Mavericks on a Roll: When Minnesota State takes the ice Friday for the first time since Dec. 12, it will do so with an unbeaten streak of nine games (5-0-4) - currently the longest run in the country. The Mavericks are also 10-2-4 in their last 16 contests.

- Competitive Balance: As the second half of the WCHA league season begins in earnest this weekend, seven teams are .500 or better in league play. With 70 percent of its membership at or above the .500 mark in league play, just three points separate the top three teams in the WCHA standings and there is only a six-point gap between fourth place (and home ice for the league playoffs) and ninth (and out of the postseason).

- Don't Leave Your Seats: Forty-three (42) of the first 72 WCHA games have been either ties (15) or one-goal decisions (28), with 22 overtime contests. Seventeen (17) league games have featured a tie-breaking, third-period game-winning goal (including six in the last five minutes of regulation), with an additional seven victories coming in overtime.

- Live on ASN: The WCHA will make its debut this week on the American Sports Network (ASN) national college hockey package, as Alabama Huntsville hosts Alaska on Friday, January 8 at 7:07 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast live on 107 ASN affiliates nationwide, spanning 39 states and including MASN's Dish Network (Ch. 432) and Direct TV (Channel 640) stations. Joel Goldberg will handle play-by-play duties, alongside former University of Minnesota All-American and two-time All-WCHA performer Pat Micheletti.

- Quickly Around the WCHA: UAH has killed off 40 of its last 41 penalties and ranks 12th nationally at 86.6 percent...With 12 points in WCHA play, UAA has already matched its 2014-15 output...UAF senior F Tyler Morley is now tied for the league lead with 19 points, having tallied six in his last three games (3g-3a)...BSU is 4-3-2 on the road, already matching its road victory total from 2014-15 (4-10-3)...BGSU has held opponents to three-or-fewer goals in 16 straight games and 20 of 22 contests this season...FSU's all-underclassmen line of Jacob Hetz (Fr.), Trevor Recktenwald (Fr.) and Andrew Mayer (So.) combined for six points (3g-3a) at the Mariucci Classic...LSSU freshman G Nick Kossoff, who is tied for the NCAA lead among rookies with three shutouts (in seven starts), went 2-0-1 with a .962 save percentage in December...MTU is undefeated in nine of its last 10 games away from Houghton...MSU leads the nation for fewest shots on goal allowed per game (22.05)...NMU has played in an NCAA-high nine overtime games, going 2-1-6 in those contests.


By the Numbers

- 6: WCHA goalies - all underclassmen, including four freshmen - in the top 25 nationally for goals-against average. BGSU sophomore Chris Nell is fourth at 1.42, MSU's Jason Pawloski (1.62) is fifth, LSSU's Nick Kossoff (1.74) is seventh, MTU senior Jamie Phillips (2.23) is 20th, FSU's Darren Smith (2.25) is 21st and NMU's Atte Tolvanen (2.30) is 24th. Four netminders are also in the top 20 for save percentage: Nell (fourth at .944), Kossoff (14th at .931), Tolvanen (17th at .930) and Smith (19th at .926).


The Week Ahead

- No. 16 Bowling Green at Lake Superior State: Just one win shy of matching their entire 2014-15 overall victory total and three WCHA points away from equaling last season's output, the Lakers host the Falcons. The teams skated to a pair of 1-1 ties Nov. 6-7 in Ohio.

- Northern Michigan at No. 18 Minnesota State: The Mavericks and Wildcats will wrap up their season series this weekend after playing to a pair of ties (1-1 and 2-2) Nov. 20 and 21 in Marquette.

- Alaska at Alabama Huntsville: Chargers junior G Carmine Guerriero made 72 saves (on 75 shots) last weekend at North Dakota, while Nanooks senior F Tyler Morley has six points (3g, 3a) in his last three games. UAF swept a series at the Von Braun Center last February.

- Bemidji State at Alaska Anchorage: After taking three of four points last weekend in Fairbanks, the Beavers remain in Alaska for a series in Anchorage. The Seawolves have been idle since Dec. 12. BSU is unbeaten in its last 11 games against UAA (7-0-4).

- Michigan Tech at Desert Hockey Classic: The Huskies will participate in their second-consecutive tournament, traveling to Glendale, Ariz. for the inaugural Desert Hockey Classic. MTU will play Connecticut in the opener, followed by either 12th-ranked Yale or host Arizona State the following day. The tournament is held at the Gila River Arena, home of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes.


The Week in Review

- In an all-Michigan edition of the Great Lakes Invitational, Michigan Tech finished second in the 51st annual event following a thrilling overtime win over Michigan State in the semifinals.

- Northern Michigan used a late rally to defeat Michigan State 2-1 and finish in third place in the GLI, after nearly upending No. 10 Michigan in the semifinals.

- After a tough 1-0 loss to host Vermont in the opener, Lake Superior State bounced back to blank Brown 3-0 in the second game of the 20th annual Catamount Cup in Burlington, Vt.

- Ferris State jumped out to a 4-0 lead en route to a 5-2 victory over Connecticut to secure third place at the 21st annual Mariucci Classic.

- Bowling Green played a trio of nonconference games in the state of Ohio, finishing 1-2 against Western Michigan (0-1) and Clarkson (1-1).

- Behind exceptional goaltending from Carmine Guerriero, Alabama Huntsville stood toe-to-toe with No. 2/3 North Dakota throughout much of their weekend series.

- Bemidji State and host Alaska played a pair of overtime contests in Fairbanks, with the Beavers capturing three of four points in the weekend's lone WCHA series.

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


Michigan Tech 3, vs. Michigan Tech 2 - OT (Semifinals)
No. 10 Michigan 4, vs. Michigan Tech 2 (Championship Game)
51st Annual Great Lakes Invitational
Dec. 29 and 30 at Joe Louis Arena; Detroit, Mich.

In an all-Michigan edition of the Great Lakes Invitational, Michigan Tech finished second in the 51st annual event following a thrilling overtime win over Michigan State in the semifinals.

Trailing Michigan State 2-0 deep into the third period in the tournament opener, Michigan Tech struck twice in the final 8:44 of regulation then received a Brent Baltus goal with 1:01 remaining in overtime for the 3-2 win. Alex Gillies started the Tech rally, before freshman Jake Lucchini scored the equalizer with 1:26 left in the third period.

Freshman Jake Jackson (first career goal) and Baltus both scored in the championship game, but 10th-ranked Michigan scored four unanswered goals over the final two periods for the win.

MTU's Baltus and Mark Auk were named to the All-Tournament team.


No. 10 Michigan 3, Northern Michigan 2 (Semifinals)
Northern Michigan 2, Michigan State 1 - OT (Third Place Game)
51st Annual Great Lakes Invitational
Dec. 29 and 30 at Joe Louis Arena; Detroit, Mich.

Northern Michigan used a late rally to defeat Michigan State 2-1 and finish in third place in the GLI, after nearly upending No. 10 Michigan in the semifinals.

In a taut defensive battle for third place at the 51st annual event, Northern Michigan trailed Michigan State 1-0 with under five minutes remaining in regulation. However, Dominik Shine scored his second goal of the tournament at the 15:45 mark to tie the game, and then Robbie Payne won it for the Wildcats 3:38 into overtime. Freshman Mathias Israelsson, making his second career start, made 24 saves (including nine in the third period and OT) for the win.

Second-period goals by Gerard Hanson and Shine put Northern Michigan on top of Michigan 2-1 in the semifinals, but the Wolverines scored the final two - including the game-winner 4:05 into the third period.

Shine earned a spot on the All-Tournament team.


at Vermont 1, Lake Superior State 0
Lake Superior State 3, vs. Brown 0
20th Annual Catamount Cup
Dec. 29 and 30 at Gutterson Fieldhouse; Burlington, Vt.

After a tough 1-0 loss to host Vermont in the opener, Lake Superior State bounced back to blank Brown 3-0 in the second game of the 20th annual Catamount Cup in Burlington, Vt. The Lakers rode their freshmen to the victory over Brown. Rookie netminder Nick Kossoff posted his third career shutout (in seven starts) with a 28-save effort, while fellow freshmen Gage Torrel (game-winner) and Anthony Nellis each scored.

LSSU was a tough-luck, 1-0 loser in the opener. Sophomore netminder Gordon Defiel allowed only a second-period goal and made 29 saves, including 14 during a first period in which the Lakers were outshot 14-1.

Torrel was named to the All-Tournament team.


No. 7 Harvard 7, vs. Ferris State 3 (Semifinals)
Ferris State 5, vs. Connecticut 2 (Third Place Game)
25th Annual Mariucci Classic
Jan. 1 and 2 at Mariucci Arena; Minneapolis, Minn.

Ferris State jumped out to a 4-0 lead en route to a 5-2 victory over Connecticut to secure third place at the 21st annual Mariucci Classic.

Senior Kenny Babinski scored twice for the Bulldogs against the Huskies, while Jared VanWormer (first period) and Kyle Schempp (second period) also found the back of the net. Freshman Jacob Hetz scored his second career goal at the 3:42 mark of the second, a marker that stood as his first career game-winner. Matt Robertson also had a two-assist effort, while rookie goaltender Darren Smith turned back 25 shots for the win.

The Bulldogs fell 7-3 to seventh-ranked Harvard in the tournament opener. The game was not without its highlights, however, as Hetz (first collegiate goal) and fellow freshman Trevor Recktenwald both scored for Ferris State.


Western Michigan 1, vs. No. 12/13 Bowling Green 0
Dec. 30 at Huntington Center; Toledo, Ohio
at No. 12/13 Bowling Green 6, Clarkson 3
Clarkson 3, at No. 12/13 Bowling Green 2
Jan. 2 and 3 at BGSU Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio

Bowling Green played a trio of nonconference games in the state of Ohio, finishing 1-2 against Western Michigan (0-1) and Clarkson (1-1).

The Falcons' lone victory came Saturday against Clarkson, a 6-3 win that extended their unbeaten streak at the BGSU Ice Arena to 14 games. Bowling Green scored three first-period goals en route to its highest output of the season. Ben Murphy scored twice, while Jakob Reichert, Sean Walker, Pierre-Luc Mercier (game-winner) and Tyler Spezia all lit the lamp. Brandon Hawkins had a two-assist effort for the Falcons.

Spezia and Hawkins each scored for BGSU in Sunday's series finale, but Clarkson scored once in each period for the win.

In a game held at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Bowling Green saw its nine-game unbeaten streak come to an end with a loss to Western Michigan. The Falcons outshot the Broncos 35-24, but were on the short end of a 1-0 setback.


at No. 2/3 North Dakota 1, Alabama Huntsville 0
at No. 2/3 North Dakota 4, Alabama Huntsville 1
Jan. 1 and 2 at Ralph Engelstad Arena; Grand Forks, N.D.

Behind exceptional goaltending from Carmine Guerriero, Alabama Huntsville stood toe-to-toe with No. 2/3 North Dakota throughout much of their weekend series.

Guerriero flashed his record-setting form from March 2015, stopping 72-of-76 shots for a .947 weekend save percentage. He turned back 38-of-39 shots Friday, yielding just a power-play goal in a 1-0 loss. Saturday, Guerriero saved 32-of-35 Fighting Hawks shots as UAH was within one goal until two minutes remained in regulation.

UAH's Richard Buri scored for the Chargers in the second period Saturday, snapping a 298:25 scoreless streak for UND netminder Cam Johnson.


Bemidji State 6, at Alaska 5 - OT
Bemidji State 1, at Alaska 1 - OT
Jan. 2 and 3 at Carlson Center; Fairbanks, Alaska

Bemidji State and host Alaska played a pair of overtime contests in Fairbanks, with the Beavers capturing three of four points in the weekend's lone WCHA series.

Friday night's contest featured a combined 11 goals, with Bemidji State overcoming four separate one-goal deficits and twice scoring in the final 15 seconds of a period. The Beavers' Brendan Harms tied the game 5-5 with just 11 seconds remaining regulation and BSU on a 6-on-4 advantage; then, with eight seconds left in overtime, Myles Fitzgerald scored his second of the game to give the visitors a 6-5 win. UAF's Tyler Morley had a career-high four points (two goals and two assists).

Saturday was a different story, with BSU goaltender Michael Bitzer (26 saves) and UAF's Davis Jones (29 stops) matching each other in a 1-1 draw. Nolan Huysmans gave the Nanooks a 1-0 lead in the first period, while Leo Fitzgerald sent the contest to overtime with the tying goal at the 10:49 mark of the third stanza.