WCHA Weekend Preview: Feb. 26 - 27, 2016
News and notes for the upcoming weekend of WCHA hockey
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Alaska Anchorage hosts Minnesota State for a pair this weekend

Opening Face-Off

- Polling Place: No. 14 Michigan Tech and No. 18 Minnesota State (up one spot) 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).

- Wild About the 'Cats: Northern Michigan has the country's fifth-best winning percentage in February, going 5-1-0 (WCHA-high .833 mark). The Wildcats are 8-4-0 since Jan. 1 and have jumped into a tie with Ferris State for fourth place in the WCHA standings.

- Ringing in the New Year: Along with NMU, three other WCHA schools have won at a .630-or-better clip since Jan. 1: Michigan Tech is seventh nationally with a .750 mark (6-1-3), Bemidji State is 9-4-2 (.667) and Ferris State is 6-3-2 (.636).

- Down the Stretch They Come: With just two regular season weekends left, all 10 WCHA schools have played 24 league games and the stage is set for another thrilling finish. The top five teams in the WCHA standings are separated by five points and are all still alive to win the MacNaughton Cup, with just two points separating front-running Minnesota State from second-place Bowling Green and Michigan Tech. The top-five schools have all clinched playoff berths, but not a single home-ice spot has been locked up. Not a single team has been eliminated from playoff contention, with two points the difference between the eighth- and ninth-place schools.

- Quickly Around the WCHA: UAH has eclipsed its goal total from last season with four regular season games left to play, as the squad has totaled 63 tallies in 2015-16 compared to 62 in 2014-15 ... UAA sophomore F Matt Anholt, the reigning WCHA Offensive Player of the Week, has a seven-game point streak (3g-6a) ... UAF sophomore F Tayler Munson snapped his own 13-game scoreless streak and the Nanooks' five-game skid (and nine-game home drought) with his short-handed game-winner with 8.8 seconds left Friday ... BSU has posted five shutouts, its highest total since 2007-08 (seven); sophomore G Michael Bitzer owns all of these, most in the WCHA and tied for fifth-most in the NCAA ... BGSU senior F Mark Cooper has moved up to a tie for third with 13 goals this season, and the Falcons are undefeated (9-0-2) when he scores ... FSU is the only WCHA school to have posted two points in each league weekend, doing so in all 12 conference series (nine, two-point weekends; two, three-point weekends and one sweep) ... LSSU, which has surpassed its victory total from a year ago, has received all 11 game-winning goals from players not with the program last season (nine freshmen and two by sophomore transfer J.T. Henke) ... MTU is 6-1-3 in its last 10 WCHA games, outscoring opponents 35-17 in that stretch; the Huskies are 15-0-2 this season when scoring three-or-more goals ... MSU has tallied at least one power-play goal in eight-straight games and is 11-for-40 (.275) during that stretch ... NMU's Dominik Shine has 10 points (3g-7a) during a seven-game point streak and is now fourth in the WCHA scoring race (conference games only) with 22 (10g-12a).


WCHA.tv

- All ten (10) 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

Ferris State (12-8-4, 28 pts. / 14-11-6) at Bowling Green (13-6-5, 31 pts. / 17-11-6)
BGSU Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio Fri., Feb. 26 and Sat., Feb. 27 (7:07 p.m. ET both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- Arguably the biggest WCHA series this weekend is the one pitting two of the league's upper division teams, as the fourth-place Bulldogs visit the second-place Falcons. Ferris State is 5-1-2 in its last seven league games, including a 3-0-1 mark on the road. Bowling Green, meanwhile, is an impressive 6-1-5 in WCHA games played at the BGSU Ice Arena this season.

- This is the only meeting of the season between the teams, while BGSU leads the all-time series between former CCHA rivals, 58-57-1.

- Ferris State will look to continue its run of at least two league points from every WCHA weekend. The Bulldogs have two points in nine weekends, three in three series and one sweep.

- FSU junior F Chad McDonald is riding a season-high five-game point streak (2g-4a=6pts). He has points in seven of his last eight games, and is fourth on the team in scoring with eight goals and 10 assists for 18 points in 26 games this season.

- BGSU's six short-handed goals are the most in one season by the Falcons since the 2008-09 season. These goals have been scored by six different individuals (Mark Cooper, Matt Pohlkamp, Mark Friedman, Ben Murphy, John Schilling, Mitch McLain).

- Bowling Green sophomore G and 2016 Mike Richter Award nominee Chris Nell has allowed two goals or fewer in 21 of 28 starts this season. He is the WCHA leader in goals against average (1.77) and save percentage (.934), ranking fourth and sixth nationally in those categories.


Northern Michigan (12-8-4, 28 pts. / 15-11-6) at Lake Superior State (8-12-4, 20 pts. / 11-19-4)
Taffy Abel Arena; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Fri., Feb. 26 (7:37 p.m. ET) and Sat., Feb. 27 (7:07 p.m. ET)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- One team is in the hunt for home ice (or more), one is trying to lock up a playoff berth - and both are hoping for the Cappo Cup when the Wildcats and Lakers meet in Sault Ste. Marie. The teams split a nonconference, home-and-home series in Oct., with LSSU holding a 7-6 advantage in goals scored (the Cappo Cup tiebreaker).

- A season-best 15 Wildcats registered at least a point during NMU's home sweep of Alabama Huntsville last weekend, with only three skaters being held off the score sheet entirely. Junior F Dominik Shine scored in both contests, running his season-best streak to seven-straight (3g-7a).

- NMU senior G Mathias Dahlstrom is a perfect 5-0-0 in February, with a .925 save percentage and 1.80 goals-against average.

- LSSU F Diego Cuglietta (4-4--8) leads WCHA freshmen and is tied for fifth overall with three game-winning goals. Among all Division I freshmen, Cuglietta is tied for fourth.

- LSSU is tied with Alabama Huntsville for the most blocked shots by a team in the WCHA (12th nationally) with 444 this season.


No. 18 Minnesota State (13-4-7, 33 pts. / 15-10-7) at Alaska Anchorage (8-14-2, 18 pts. / 11-16-3)
Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Alaska Fri., Feb. 26 and Sat., Feb. 27 (7:07 p.m. AT both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- Idle last week, the Mavericks renew their quest for a second-straight regular season title. The Seawolves, who were swept in Mankato in November, are two points ahead of in-state rival Alaska for the final playoff spot.

- Minnesota State posted 2-0 and 6-2 wins over Alaska Anchorage on Nov. 27-28 in Mankato.

- The Mavericks are looking for their first road WCHA since Nov. 7, having gone 0-7-1 since.

- Minnesota State, which has outshot its opponents in 26 of 32 games this season, ranks first in the nation for fewest shots on goal allowed per game (21.6) and first in shots on goal margin with an +11.9 SOGM mark.

- UAA senior F Blake Tatchell is tied for seventh overall in the WCHA with 22 points (8g-14a). Last weekend, he became the 23rd Seawolf to reach the career 100-point plateau (31g-70a=101pts).

- Seawolves' sophomore G Olivier Mantha, one of 26 nominees for the 2016 Mike Richter Award, enters the weekend with a .903 save percentage.


Alaska (6-14-4, 16 pts. / 8-18-4) at No. 14 Michigan Tech (14-7-3, 31 pts. / 17-8-5)
MacInnes Student Ice Arena; Houghton, Mich. Fri., Feb. 26 & Sat., Feb. 27 (7:07 p.m. ET both nights)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- The second series involving a playoff-hopeful Alaska school against a MacNaughton Cup contender takes place in Houghton, as the 14th-ranked Huskies host the Nanooks. Tech won both games in Fairbanks over Thanksgiving weekend and leads the all-time series, 8-3-0.

- UAF junior F Brandon Morley is one game away from playing in his 100th collegiate contest. Five other active Nanooks have already reached that milestone: senior D Josh Atkinson (138 games), senior F Nolan Huysmans (135), senior F Tyler Morley (125), senior F Alec Hajdukovich (103) and junior F Marcus Basara (101).

- Despite missing the last two weekends due to injury, T. Morley is still second overall in the WCHA with 14 goals and leads the league with 0.56 goals per game.

- The Huskies are unbeaten in nine of their last 10 WCHA outings (6-1-3). Tech has lost just two of its last 14 games overall (8-2-4) dating back to Dec. 11.

- 2016 Mike Richter Award nominee Jamie Phillips has been especially good since Jan. 1, going 6-1-3 for Tech with one shutout and a WCHA-best 1.56 goals-against average.


Alabama Huntsville (4-15-5, 13 pts. / 6-19-5) at Bemidji State (9-11-4, 22 pts. / 14-13-5)
Sanford Center; Bemijdi, Minn. Fri., Feb. 26 (7:37 p.m. CT) and Sat., Feb. 27 (7:07 p.m. CT)
WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- The latest installment of the Chargers-Beavers rivalry takes place in Bemidji. UAH needs at least two points from the weekend (and some help from Minnesota State) to stay alive in the playoff chase. Bemidji State clinches its playoff berth with a win, while the Beavers can possibly wrap things up depending on other outcomes.

- Bemidji State skated to a pair of wins in Huntsville back in November and owns a 45-29-4 advantage in a series that got its start in 1994 (and includes four meetings in the D-II national championship series). The Beavers are riding a five-game winning streak in the series.

- Junior G Matt Larose has started six of the Chargers' last seven games. He currently ranks second in the WCHA and 14th nationally with a .929 save percentage.

- UAH junior F Matt Salhany has recorded at least one point in each of the Chargers' past four series and now has a career-high nine points this season (3g-6a).

- BSU sophomore G Michael Bitzer is 8-4-2 in his last 14 appearances, has stopped 315-of-338 shots (.932) and has a 1.74 goals against average in 795:11 minutes during that span. His WCHA-high five shutouts is tied for fifth-most nationally.

- At nearly 90 percent on the penalty kill (.889), BSU is fourth in the country. The Beavers' power-play unit is 24-of-121 (.189) in 2015-16, while ranking second with a .182 mark in WCHA play.