WCHA Week 18: Races For MacNaughton Cup, Home-Ice And Playoff Spots Heat Up; Ferris State Hosts Northern Michigan In Key Matchup
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Ferris State Hosts Northern Michigan In Key Matchup

Opening Face-Off

- Three WCHA Teams in Top 20: For the fourth consecutive week, the WCHA has three teams in the USCHO.com rankings: No. 14 Michigan Tech (up one spot), No. 17 Minnesota State (up one) and No. 19 Bowling Green. The Huskies are also No. 14 in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings for the second-straight week.

- A Falcon Fixture: Bowling Green is ranked in the USCHO.com poll for the 36th consecutive week, matching Quinnipiac for the eighth-longest streak in the country.

- 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).

- Ringing in the New Year: Three WCHA schools have played some of their best hockey of the season since the calendar flipped to 2016. Michigan Tech is undefeated in its eight games (5-0-3), Ferris State is unbeaten in seven contests (5-0-2) and Bemidji State is 7-2-2 - including a 2-1 win Tuesday at Minnesota Duluth.

- Down the Stretch They Come: With four regular season weekends left, the stage is set for enticing races for the MacNaughton Cup (three teams within two points and four within five), for home ice advantage in the WCHA playoffs (eight points currently separate fourth place and sixth) and for the eighth and final postseason spot (three teams separated by two points, with a fourth trailing by five).

- Talking Playoffs: Minnesota State, Bowling Green and Michigan Tech, the three teams separated by just two points at the top of the league standings, have all clinched a berth in the 2016 WCHA playoffs.

- Don't Leave Your Seats: Fifty-five (55) of the first 108 WCHA games have been either ties (19) or one-goal decisions (36), with 30 overtime contests. Twenty-three (23) league games have featured a tie-breaking, third-period game-winning goal (including eight in the last five minutes of regulation), with an additional 11 victories coming in overtime.

- Quickly Around the WCHA: UAH junior G Matt Larose won more games in January (2-1-1) than he had in his first two collegiate seasons combined (1-25-2); over the longer haul, he is 4-5-1 this season and ranks second in the WCHA (seventh nationally) with a .944 save percentage since Dec. 18 ... UAA has suffered from some bad luck lately; during the Seawolves' current 1-5-0 stretch, three losses have come by just a single goal ... UAF senior F Tyler Morley leads the WCHA in goals (14 - tied), goals per game (0.56), points per game (0.96) and shots per game (3.96) ... BSU, which won its fourth-straight meeting with Minnesota Duluth on Tuesday night, is now a WCHA-best 5-2-1 (.688) in nonconference play this season ... BGSU head coach Chris Bergeron won his 96th career game last Saturday and is four victories shy of joining Jerry York (342), Ron Mason (160) and Buddy Powers (135) as the four Falcons' bench bosses with 100 career wins ... FSU has earned at least two points in all 11 of its WCHA series this year, with at least one win in 10 sets ... LSSU sophomore D Kyle Chatham is tied for the WCHA lead and tied for 14th nationally with 59 blocked shots ... MTU senior G Jamie Phillips added to his own school record with his ninth career shutout last Friday, then earned his 50th collegiate win Saturday (50-23-8), second-most in school annals ... MSU ... senior F Bryce Gervais leads all active NCAA players with 152 career games played; he also is the Mavericks' career leader with nine short-handed goals, including a pair last Friday ... NMU ... senior F Justin Rose, who had missed the last 24 games due to injury, returned to the lineup last weekend and scored on his first shot of the season; meanwhile, junior F Darren Nowick has moved into a tie for second in the WCHA with 25 points (10g-15a) - including a league-high 12 (3g-9a) in eight 2016 games.


The Week Ahead

- Northern Michigan at Ferris State: This #PureMichigan series between two hot teams has major implications in the race for home-ice advantage for the 2016 WCHA playoffs. Northern Michigan, 4-1-0 in its last five games, sits two points behind fourth-place Ferris State (but with two games in hand). The Bulldogs are unbeaten in their last seven games (5-0-2). The teams split Dec. 11-12 in Marquette.

- Bemidji State at Lake Superior State: Another series with postseason implications, as the sixth-place Beavers (7-2-2 in its 11 games) are two points ahead of the Lakers (3-7-0 in their last 10). LSSU took three points Nov. 20-21 in Bemidji.

- No. 17 Minnesota State at Alabama Huntsville: The Mavericks are 16-0-2 in their last 18 meetings with the Chargers, including a sweep Dec. 11-12 in Mankato.

- Miami at No. 19 Bowling Green: The Falcons wrap up their regular season nonconference slate with their second meeting against Miami. BGSU dropped a 2-1 decision against the RedHawks on Jan. 16.


The Week in Review

- A matchup between WCHA front-runners in Mankato resulted in a split, with No. 18 Minnesota State winning the opener before No. 19 Bowling Green bounced back to capture the series finale.

- Behind stellar goaltending from Jamie Phillips (53 saves) and an MVP performance by fellow senior Max Vallis (three goals - including both game-winners), No. 15/14 Michigan Tech won the Winter Carnival with a pair of victories over Lake Superior State.

- Ferris State captured its first sweep of the year and ran its unbeaten streak to seven games with a pair of wins at Alaska.

- Northern Michigan kept pace with Ferris State in the chase for home-ice advantage in the WCHA playoffs, earning a pair of one-goal wins over visiting Alaska Anchorage for the Wildcats' first sweep of the season.

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


at No. 18 Minnesota State 5, No. 19 Bowling Green 1
No. 19 Bowling Green 3, at Minnesota State 1
Feb. 5 and 6 at Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn.

A matchup between WCHA front-runners in Mankato resulted in a split, with No. 18 Minnesota State winning the opener before No. 19 Bowling Green bounced back to capture the series finale.

The host Mavericks never trailed and received three points - including two short-handed goals - from senior Bryce Gervais en route to a 5-1 win Friday. Freshman Max Coatta's two-point night included his first career game-winning goal, while Michael Huntebrinker and C.J. Franklin also found the back of the net. Teddy Blueger had a pair of assists for Minnesota State.

Bowling Green turned the tide in the finale, scoring first and not trailing during a 3-1 victory. Mark Cooper got the Falcons on the board then, after the Mavericks tied the contest, the senior put BGSU ahead to stay with the game-winning marker in the second period. Freshman Stephen Baylis added an insurance goal and Chris Nell made 31 saves - including 14 in the third period.


at No. 15/14 Michigan Tech 3, Lake Superior State 0
at No. 15/15 Michigan Tech 3, Lake Superior State 1
Feb. 5 and 6 at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena

Behind stellar goaltending from Jamie Phillips (53 saves) and an MVP performance by fellow senior Max Vallis (three goals - including both game-winners), No. 15/14 Michigan Tech won the Winter Carnvial with a pair of victories over Lake Superior State.

Vallis broke a scoreless tie with two second-period goals Friday, Matt Roy added an insurance marker and Phillips made 31 saves in his school-record ninth career shutout, all in front of 3,648 fans and a national television audience on the American Sports Network (ASN).

Phillips came within a Lakers' penalty shot with 55 seconds remaining of his second-straight shutout Saturday night, stopping 22-of-23 shots in a 3-1 triumph. Vallis' second-period goal stood as the game-winner, while C.J. Eick (short-handed) and freshman Jake Lucchini also scored. LSSU freshman goaltender Nick Kossoff made an impressive 45 saves in the loss. A crowd of 3,582 saw the host Huskies hoist the MacInnes Cup.


Ferris State 4, at Alaska 0
Ferris State 2, at Alaska 1 - OT
Feb. 5 and 6 at Carlson Center; Fairbanks, Alaska

Ferris State captured its first sweep of the year and ran its unbeaten streak to seven games with a pair of wins at Alaska.

Freshman netminder Darren Smith led the way on Friday night, making 20 saves for his second career shutout, while the Bulldogs received goals from Matt Robertson, Gerald Mayhew, Simon Denis and Drew Mayer in the 4-0 win. Chad McDonald was the lone FSU skater with multiple points, assisting on the team's first two goals of the night.

Mayhew played the hero on Saturday night, scoring 15 seconds into overtime to secure the sweep for the Bulldogs after McDonald tied the game in the third period. Smith turned aside 31-of-32 shots, blanking Alaska after Nanooks' freshman John Mullally scored just 35 seconds into the game.


at Northern Michigan 3, Alaska Anchorage 2
at Northern Michigan 5, Alaska Anchorage 4
Feb. 5 and 6 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich.

Northern Michigan kept pace with Ferris State in the chase for home-ice advantage in the WCHA playoffs, earning a pair of one-goal wins over visiting Alaska Anchorage for the Wildcats' first sweep of the season.

Robbie Payne cashed in on the man advantage late in the third period Friday, snapping a 2-2 tie with his power-play goal at the 14:42 mark to lift NMU to the 3-2 triumph. Wildcats' senior forward Justin Rose scored on his first shot after missing 24 games due to injury, while Brock Maschmeyer added a power-play strike.

Dominik Shine (2g-1a) and Darren Nowick (3a) helped Northern Michigan build a 5-1 lead Saturday night, before the Wildcats survived for a 5-4 win. Maschmeyer added his second power-play goal of the series, before UAA's Blake Tatchell, Brad Duwe and Blake Leask all scored during a furious, late-game rally for the Seawolves.

NMU goaltender Mathias Dahlström made 42 saves on the weekend, winning both contests to remain undefeated in his four starts this season.