WCHA Weekend Preview: Feb. 5 - 6, 2016
News and notes for the upcoming weekend of WCHA hockey
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The WCHA returns for its second game on the American Sports Network (ASN) national college hockey package, as No. 15 Michigan Tech hosts Lake Superior State on Friday, February 5 at 8:07 p.m. ET.

Opening Face-Off

- Three WCHA Teams in Top 20: For the third consecutive week, the WCHA has three teams in the USCHO.com rankings: No. 15 Michigan Tech (up two spots), No. 18 Minnesota State (up one) and No. 19 Bowling Green. The Huskies have also returned to the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings, holding down the 14th spot in this week's poll.

- 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).

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

- Live on ASN (and TSN5): The WCHA returns for its second game on the American Sports Network (ASN) national college hockey package, as No. 15 Michigan Tech hosts Lake Superior State on Friday, February 5 at 8:07 p.m. ET. The game, which is part of Houghton's Winter Classic, will be broadcast live on select ASN affiliates nationwide and showcased to a Canadian audience on TSN5 as part of The Sports Network's college hockey lineup. Dave Ellis 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 sophomore F Max McHugh has jumped into the top-five in the league's conference (t-fourth with 17 points) and overall (t-fifth with 21 points) scoring races ... UAA's goal-scoring leader, sophomore F Tad Kozun, has 11 markers this year - nearly double the six he potted as a freshman in 2014-15 ... UAF senior F Tyler Morley leads the Nanooks in 13 offensive categories and is tied for second in the league with 24 overall points (14g-10a) ... at 4-2-1, BSU is tied for the most nonconference wins in the WCHA, while its .643 winning percentage is second (MTU, .667) ... BGSU ended January with 29 goals in nine games, its' highest-scoring month since January 2006 (32); in the last two weekends, the Falcons have climbed from 46th to 31st nationally in scoring offense ... During FSU's current five-game unbeaten streak, freshman G Darren Smith is 3-0-2 with 126 saves, a .933 save percentage and 1.74 goals-against average ... LSSU, currently in seventh place but just two points out of fifth, has two games in hand on every WCHA team but NMU ... MTU is 17-6-3 over its last 26 games against Michigan foes, including five series sweeps ... MSU's Bryce Gervais played in his 150th consecutive game on Sunday; the senior ranks fifth in the school's D-I era with 59 career goals ... Dominik Shine (9) and Darren Nowick (6) have scored half of NMU's 30 goals since December; Shine leads the league in goals and points (14) over that span.


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

No. 19 Bowling Green (11-4-5, 27 pts. / 15-8-6) at No. 18 Minnesota State (12-3-5, 29 pts. / 14-9-5) Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn. Fri., Feb. 5 and Sat., Feb. 6 (7:07 p.m. CT both nights) WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- This top-20 matchup comes with high stakes: First place is on the line as current league front-runner and nationally 18th-ranked Minnesota State hosts No. 18 Bowling Green, which trails by just two points in the league standings.

- BGSU ended January with 29 goals in nine games, its' highest scoring month since Jan. 2006 (32).

- Before being held scoreless last Saturday, Falcons' sophomore F Brandon Hawkins had seven points in three games (4g-3a) the best stretch by a BGSU player since the 2013-14 season.

- Backstopped by sophomore G Chris Nell (fourth in the NCAA with a 1.64 GAA and fifth with a .937 save percentage), BGSU ranks sixth nationally for scoring defense, allowing just 2.00 goals per contest. Minnesota State has averaged 5.0 goals over its last four games (20 total).

- Minnesota State has outshot its opponents by a 934-611 margin through the team's 28 games this year. The Mavericks, who have outshot their opponents in 22 of their 28 games on the season, rank first in the nation for fewest shots on goal allowed per game (21.8).

- MSU junior D Casey Nelson ranks second on the Mavericks (and second among WCHA defenseman) in scoring with 4-1519; his counterpart on the BGSU blue line, Mark Friedman, leads the league with 16 points (4g-12a).

- The two teams skated to a pair of 2-2 overtime ties in Bowling Green in December and Minnesota State stands 5-3-3 all-time vs. the Falcons (1-1 in Mankato).


Lake Superior State (6-8-4, 16 pts. / 9-15-4) at No. 15/14 Michigan Tech (11-6-3, 25 pts. / 14-7-5) John MacInnes Student Ice Arena; Houghton, Mich. Fri., Feb. 5 (8:07 p.m. ET) and Sat., Feb. 6 (5:07 p.m. ET) WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV and Friday's game on American Sports Network (ASN)

- The Huskies host Winter Carnival festivities having moved into the top-15 national rankings following a 3-0-3 January. MTU jump-started its longer 5-1-4 stretch with a three-point weekend at Lake Superior State back on Dec. 11-12.

- The Huskies, who began holding a Winter Carnival hockey series in 1950, have won the title 44 times in 66 editions (73-45-14 all-time record).

- The Lakers lead the nation in power play opportunities with 125, and rank fifth with 113 times going on the penalty kill.

- The talented freshmen class continues to steer LSSU, combining for 29 goals and 41 assists this season the 70 points ranks second in the WCHA among all classes (FSU's juniors have 73).

- Tech's co-captain, senior F Alex Petan, was named the WCHA Player of the Month for January after posting four goals and six points in four league contests last month.

- MTU is 17-6-3 over its last 26 games against Michigan foes, including five series sweeps.

- Tonight's game marks the 65th all-time meeting between the Huskies and Lakers in a rivalry that dates back to the 1969-70 campaign. Tech owns a 38-21-5 advantage over Lake State (6-3-1 in the last 10 meetings), including a 23-9-1 mark at home.


Ferris State (9-7-4, 22 pts. / 11-9-6) at Alaska (5-11-4, 14 pts. / 7-15-4) Carlson Center; Fairbanks, Alaska Fri., Feb. 5 and Sat., Feb. 6 (7:07 p.m. AT both nights) WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- Prior to being idle last week, the Bulldogs used consecutive three-point weekends to jump into fourth place in the league race. FSU is 3-0-2 in its last five contests, while Alaska is looking to snap a seven-game home WCHA winless skid (0-6-1) dating back to Nov. 6 win over NMU.

- During FSU's current five-game unbeaten streak, freshman G Darren Smith has been the anchor for Bulldogs with 126 saves, a .933 save percentage and 1.74 goals against average.

- Ferris State senior D Simon Denis finished the month of January averaging a point-per-game with two goals and four assists in six games along with a +4 rating while manning the blue line.

- Alaska senior F Nolan Huysmans has had an excellent start to 2016, posting four multi-point games since Jan. 1.He has recorded at least one point in six of Alaska's eight games, tying him for second place in the WCHA (with teammate T. Morley) with 10 points (4g-6a)

- Sophomores Peter Krieger and Zach Frye lead the Nanooks in categories of their own; Krieger leading in assists with 14, while Frye leads all Alaska defenseman in points with 13.

- Longtime former CCHA rivals, Ferris State and Alaska have a series history dating back to 1985. The Bulldogs have an overall record of 32-34-7 against the Nanooks, but Alaska is unbeaten in the last four meetings (2-0-2).


Alaska Anchorage (7-11-2, 16 pts. / 10-13-3) at Northern Michigan (7-7-4, 18 pts. / 10-10-6) Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich. Fri., Feb. 5 and Sat., Feb. 6 (7:07 p.m. ET both nights) WATCH LIVE ON WCHA.TV

- The Wildcats wrap up a six-game homestand with their only series of the year against the Seawolves. UAA, which is playing its last series of the season outside of Alaska, has actually been a better road team in league play this year with a 4-5-1 mark away from the Sullivan Arena.

- With eight league games remaining, the Seawolves have already produced more points (16) than last season (12 points).

- UAA senior F Blake Tatchell, who is tied for eighth in the WCHA with 19 points (6g-13) is one point shy of recording his fourth-consecutive 20+ point season and two short of 100 for his career (29g-69a==98pts).

- NMU G Atte Tolvanen ranks 11th nationally (second WCHA) with a .931 save percentage. Among WCHA netminders, the freshman ranks first in saves (650) and shots faced (698).

- Wildcats' senior F Darren Nowick has a four-game point streak (1g-4a=5pts) and eight points (5g-3a) in his last six outings. He is tied for fifth among WCHA skaters with 21 points this season (10g-11a), two shy of matching his career high.

- The Wildcats hold a 15-11-1 edge in the all-time series, including a 10-3-1 mark at home.