WCHA Weekend Preview: Feb. 19 - 20, 2016
News and notes for the upcoming weekend of WCHA hockey
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Northern Michigan hosts Alabama Huntsville for a WCHA series this weekend

Opening Face-Off

- Polling Place: No. 14 Michigan Tech and No. 19 Minnesota State are carrying the WCHA banner in the USCHO.com poll this week, with the Huskies holding the same spot in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings.

- Winning Hockey: The WCHA continues to have 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 6-1-2 and Bemidji State is 8-3-2.

- Down the Stretch They Come: With just three regular season weekends left, each of the top five teams in the WCHA standings are still alive to win the MacNaughton Cup (with the current fifth place team mathematically able to either hoist the Cup for finish in last place), while the top three schools can reach the same maximum number of overall league points (41).

- Any Given Weekend: Twenty-six (26) of the first 56 WCHA series this season have resulted in splits, including five that ended in a pair of ties. There have been just 19 league sweeps to date, along with 11 three-point weekends.

- Don't Leave Your Seats: Fifty-nine (59) of the first 114 WCHA games have been either ties (21) or one-goal decisions (38), with 32 overtime contests. Twenty-six (26) league games have featured a tie-breaking, third-period game-winning goal (including nine in the last five minutes of regulation), with an additional 11 victories coming in overtime.

- Quickly Around the WCHA: UAH junior G Matt Larose leads the WCHA and ranks fourth nationally with a .954 save percentage since Dec. 18 ... UAA senior F Blake Tatchell is one point away from becoming the 23rd Seawolf in program history with 100 career points (30g-69a) ... Despite missing the last series due to injury, UAF senior F Tyler Morley is still tied for the league's overall goal-scoring lead with 14 markers ... BSU is 41-of-44 (.932) on the penalty kill since Jan. 3, is at .894 overall in WCHA play to lead the league and is fourth nationally at .898; since moving to the D-I level, the Beavers have never allowed fewer than 20 PPGs in a season (12 this year) ... Three BGSU student-athletes - Pierre Luc-Mercier, Matt Pohlkamp and Tomas Sholl - were recently accepted into the National College Athlete Honor Society ... FSU senior D Brandon Anselmini has 10 points in his last 10 games (1g-9a), pacing WCHA blue-liners over the span (since Dec. 11) ... LSSU snapped a six-game losing streak and a coinciding 0-for-23 stretch on the power play, when J.T. Henke buried the game-winner last Saturday with the man advantage ... MTU is undefeated in its last 10 true road games, going 7-0-3 dating back to an Oct. 23 loss at Northern Michigan; the Huskies are 10-3-4 overall away from Houghton this year (including neutral site games) ... MSU senior F Teddy Blueger has 21 points in his last 19 games (5g-16a); the WCHA's overall scoring leader (8g-20a=28pts) is now second in the conference scoring race with 23 points (5g-18a) ... NMU head coach Walt Kyle earned his 250th career victory Feb. 13. Currently in his 14th season behind the Northern Michigan bench, he owns a 250-236-63 career record.


WCHA.tv

- All eight (8) 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

Lake Superior State (7-11-4, 18 pts. / 10-18-4) at Alaska Anchorage (7-13-2, 16 pts. / 10-15-3)
Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Alaska Fri., Feb. 19 and Sat., Feb. 20 (7:07 p.m. AT both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- The seventh-place Lakers and eighth-place Seawolves are separated by two points, both also trying to fend off ninth-place Alaska in the race for the final WCHA playoff spots. Both teams have already produced more WCHA league points than they did in the 2014-15 season.

- The teams split a series last month in Sault Ste. Marie. This will be the 13th and 14th all-time meetings between the schools, with each winning twice in four all-time games in Anchorage. LSSU's 3-2, OT win at UAA on Nov. 1, 2014 was the first career victory for Lakers' head coach Damon Whitten.

- With a win last Saturday against Bemidji State, LSSU snapped a six-game losing streak that dated back to a Jan. 17 home loss to UAA.

- LSSU sophomore G Gordon Defiel made 30 saves last Saturday for his second shutout of the season and the sixth of his career matching Bruce Hoffort for sixth all-time in school history.

- Of the three series remaining for the Seawolves, two of them are currently against teams at or below .500. UAA still has to play league-leader Minnesota State on Feb. 26-27 in Anchorage.

- UAA points leader, senior F Blake Tatchell (7g-13a20pts), is one point shy of 100 for his career (30g-69a). He'd become the 23rd Seawolf all-time to reach the plateau, and the fourth active WCHA player (MSU's Teddy Blueger, UAF's Tyler Morley and MTU's Alex Petan).


Bowling Green (12-5-5, 29 pts. / 16-10-6) at Alaska (5-13-4, 14 pts. / 7-17-4)
Carlson Center; Fairbanks, Alaska Fri., Feb. 19 and Sat., Feb. 20 (7:07 p.m. AT both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- The Falcons can draw even with idle Minnesota State atop the WCHA standings, while the Nanooks are fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot. This will be the only meeting of the year between the schools.

- BGSU controls its own destiny and can finish with at least a share of the WCHA regular season championship by winning each of its remaining six games.

- Behind WCHA goals-against average and save percentage leader Chris Nell, BGSU has allowed just 68 goals in 32 games. The school record for fewest goals allowed in a season is 90, also in 32 games. The Falcons are on pace to allow 81 in their 38 regular season contests.

- The Falcons were 3-0-1 against Alaska during the 2014-15 season, including a pair of 3-2 victories in Fairbanks. BGSU has not lost in Fairbanks since Jan. 2012.

- Alaska is trying to snap a nine-game winless streak at home (0-8-1), dating back to a Nov. 6 win over Northern Michigan.

- UAF senior F Tyler Morley is tied for first in the WCHA in goals with 14. Additionally, T. Morley leads the WCHA in goals per games played (0.56) and shots on goal per games played (3.96), while also pacing the Nanooks in points (24), G/GP (0.56), P/GP (0.96), PPA (5), PPP (8), plus/minus (+8), SOG (98), SOG/GP (3.92) and face-offs won (293).


No. 14 Michigan Tech (13-6-3, 29 pts. / 16-7-5) at Bemidji State (8-10-4, 20 pts. / 13-12-5)
Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn. Fri., Feb. 19 (7:37 p.m. CT) and Sat., Feb. 20 (7:07 p.m. CT)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- These two teams, who are a combined 13-3-5 since Jan. 1, meet for the only time this season. The 14th-ranked Huskies can draw even with idle Minnesota State in the MacNaughton Cup race, while the Beavers are still alive for home-ice advantage.

- Friday's contest marks the 19th meeting between Tech and Bemidji State all-time, with the Huskies holding a 9-5-4 edge in the series. Tech is currently riding a 10-game unbeaten streak (7-0-3) against the Beavers dating back to an Oct. 22, 2011 setback at Sanford Center.

- Tech has lost just once over its last 14 games played somewhere other than Houghton (4-2 vs. Michigan in the GLI championship game), including a 6-0-2 mark in WCHA road games.

- The Huskies are 14-0-2 when finding the back of the net three or more times, but just 2-7-2 when failing to reach that threshold.

- A power-play goal this weekend would give BSU 24 in 2015-16, its best PPG total since 2011-12 (25-of-118/.212). The Beavers are also on pace to finish with their best penalty-kill percentage and fewest PPGs allowed since moving to D-I.

- After going 2-9-2 to open the season, BSU sophomore G Michael Bitzer is 7-3-2 in his last 12 appearances, has stopped 271-of-289 shots (.937) and has a 1.53 goals against average in 703:39 minutes during that span.


Alabama Huntsville (4-13-5, 13 pts. / 6-17-5) at Northern Michigan (10-8-4, 22 pts. / 13-11-6)
Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich. Fri., Feb. 19 and Sat., Feb. 20 (7:07 p.m. ET both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- The Chargers have breathed new life into their playoff hopes with a point in each of their league series in 2016 including a pair of ties against front-running Minnesota State last weekend while the Wildcats are four points back of a home-ice spot.

- NMU earned three points at UAH in Dec., and own a 9-2-3 edge in the all-time series.

- UAH junior G Matt Larose has been one of the most successful goaltenders in the NCAA since Dec. 18, ranking fourth nationally and leading the WCHA with a .954 save percentage in that time span.

- Chargers' junior F Matt Salhany delivered the game-tying, short-handed goal late in the third period last Saturday. He now has five of his eight points on the year in his last six games (3g-2a).

- NMU freshman F Denver Pierce's game-tying goal Feb. 13 was his fifth of the season, good for fourth among WCHA newcomers. Pierce has scored three of his goals in the past eight games and leads all Wildcat freshmen with eight points

- Wildcats' points leader, senior F Darren Nowick (11g-16a27pts) has registered at least one point in seven of NMU's last eight games, posting 11 (2g-9a) over that span.


NONCONFERENCE

Ferris State (12-8-4, 28 pts. WCHA / 14-10-6) at No. 6 Michigan (9-2-3-2, 32 pts. Big Ten / 18-4-5)
Yost Ice Arena; Ann Arbor, Mich.

- The final WCHA nonconference game of the regular season sees the Bulldogs traveling to Ann Arbor, Mich. for a single game against No. 6 Michigan.

- The game will be the 106th meeting between the two schools all-time, with Michigan owning a 68-30-7 edge in the series. 17 of the last 32 games in the teams' series have been decided by one goal or less including a 4-3 Ferris State win on opening night of the 2014-15 campaign.

- FSU freshman G Darren Smith has a 1.95 goals against average and a .932 save percentage at .932 in his rookie campaign. He is 3rd in the WCHA and 10th in the country in GAA, and second in the WCHA/12th nationally in SV%.

- Fellow rookie Corey Mackin is second on the team (and tops among WCHA freshman) in scoring with 21 points on eight goals and 13 assists, while playing in all of the FSU's 30 games so far.

- Currently on a four-game point streak, junior F Gerald Mayhew has earned a point in eight of FSU's last nine contests. He leads the Bulldogs and is tied for second in the WCHA with 27 points overall (10g-17a).