WCHA Weekend Preview: Feb. 12 - 13, 2016
News and notes for the upcoming weekend of WCHA hockey
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Lake Superior State hosts Bemidji State this weekend at Taffy Abel Arena

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.

- 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: 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 have all clinched a berth in the 2016 WCHA playoffs.

- 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.


WCHA.tv

- All seven (7) 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

Northern Michigan (9-7-4, 22 pts. / 12-10-6) at Ferris State (11-7-4, 26 pts. / 13-9-6)
Ewigleben Ice Arena; Big Rapids, Mich. Fri., Feb. 12 and Sat., Feb. 13 (7:07 p.m. ET both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- This #PureMichigan series between two hot teams has major implications in the race for home-ice advantage in 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).

- Both teams are coming off their first sweeps of the season (NMU vs. Alaska Anchorage and FSU at Alaska). The Bulldogs are unbeaten in their last seven games (5-0-2).

- Last weekend, the Wildcats killed off nine-of-ten UAA power plays. NMU now ranks sixth nationally with a .866 penalty-kill efficiency rate.

- NMU senior F Darren Nowick is tied for second in the WCHA with a career-high 25 points (10g-15), including a league-best 12 (3g-9a) in eight games since Jan. 1.

- FSU G Darren Smith has moved into ninth nationally (second among freshmen) with a .933 save percentage. His 1.94 goals-against average is 11th in the NCAA (also second for rookies).

- Bulldogs' sophomore F Andrew Mayer has a point in three-straight games (2g-1a) and four of his last five contests (2g-2a).

- The two teams split a series in Marquette back on Dec. 11-12.


Bemidji State (7-9-4, 18 pts. / 12-11-5) at Lake Superior State (6-10-4, 16 pts. / 9-17-4)
Taffy Abel Arena; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Fri., Feb. 12 (7:37 p.m. ET) and Sat., Feb. 13 (7:07 p.m. ET)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- Another series with postseason implications, as sixth-place Bemidji State (7-2-2 in its 11 games) is two points ahead of Lake Superior State (3-7-0 in its last 10).

- BSU sophomore G Michael Bitzer has keyed the Beavers' second-half stretch, going 6-2-2 with a .934 save percentage (225-of-241) and 1.64 goals-against average in his last ten outings.

- The Beavers got a third-period, game-winning goal from Markus Gerbrandt to earn a 2-1 road win Tuesday at Minnesota Duluth. In BSU's 12 wins and five ties this season, it has outscored opponents 33-9 in the third period and overtime.

- LSSU's talented freshman class has shown a knack for clutch scoring, as their nine game-winning goals (one for each Lakers' victory this season) is the second-most for a class in the league (Minnesota State's seniors have scored 11 game-winners).

- Lakers' freshman F Anthony Nellis has totaled eight power play points (1g-7a) this season, which is the most by a WCHA rookie and seventh overall.

- LSSU is unbeaten in the last four meetings between the schools (3-0-1), including a three-point series Nov. 20-21 in Bemidji. The Lakers own a 4-3-1 advantage since joining the WCHA, while the overall series with the Beavers dates back to the 1966-67 season.


No. 17 Minnesota State (13-4-5, 31 pts. / 15-10-5) at Alabama Huntsville (4-13-3, 11 pts. / 6-17-3)
Von Braun Center; Huntsville, Ala. Fri., Feb. 12 and Sat., Feb. 13 (7:07 p.m. CT both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- No. 17 Minnesota State looks to extend its slim two-point lead atop the WCHA standings, while UAH can gain ground on the idle Alaska schools for the eighth and final playoff spot.

- When scoring first, the Mavericks are a dangerous team. Minnesota State has scored the first goal in 13 of its 30 games, and stands 8-1-4 in those contests.

- Minnesota State has outshot its opponents in 24 of 30 games, holding a 987-654 margin. The Mavericks rank first nationally for fewest shots on goal allowed per game (21.8) and second in shots on goal margin (+11.1).

- UAH sophomore F Max McHugh is tied for second in the WCHA with 15 assists, while he is tied for seventh with 21 points (six goals).

- Chargers' junior F Matt Salhany has four points in his last four games (2g-2a), including a game-winner Jan. 29 at Alaska Anchorage.

- Minnesota State is 16-0-2 in the last 18 meetings, with UAH's last victory coming during the 2001-02 season. The Mavericks won, 2-1 and 4-1, in Mankato on Dec. 11-12.


NONCONFERENCE

Miami (6-10-2-2, 22 pts. NCHC / 11-13-3) at No. 19 Bowling Green (12-5-5, 29 pts. WCHA / 16-9-6)
BGSU Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio Fri., Feb. 12 (7:07 p.m. ET)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- No. 19 Bowling Green wraps up its regular season nonconference slate by concluding a home-and-home series with intrastate rival Miami. The RedHawks won a 2-1 decision on Jan. 16, scoring with just two seconds remaining in regulation.

- The Falcons are ranked in the USCHO.com poll for the 36th consecutive week, matching Quinnipiac for the eighth-longest streak in the country.

- BGSU's defense has been stellar this season, allowing only 64 in 31 games. The Falcons average 2.06 goals allowed per game and are on pace to set new school records for fewest goals allowed in a season (90) and scoring defense (2.385).

- Falcons' sophomore G Chris Nell stopped 31 shots in a win last Saturday at Minnesota State, clinching a WCHA playoff berth for BGSU. He leads the league with a .933 save percentage and a 1.74 goals-against average.

- BGSU is 4-4-1 in nonconference games this season, including a 2-1-0 mark at home.