WCHA Week 5: Upper Peninsula Rivals Face-Off, And A Broadmoor Trophy Rematch Awaits
No. 9 Minnesota State, No. 20 Bemidji State and 4-0-0 Lake Superior State Look To Continue Hot Starts
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One of the WCHA's fiercest rivalries resumes this weekend when Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan square off for a home-and-home series (Friday in Hougton and Saturday in Marquette).

Opening Face-Off

- Lakers Rising: With a 4-0-0 record, Lake Superior State joins top-ranked North Dakota (5-0-0) as the only two remaining unbeaten and untied teams in men's Division I college hockey. The Lakers have excelled in all facets, as LSSU is one of only three NCAA teams to rank in the top-15 for scoring offense (first at 6.00 goals per game), scoring defense (12th at 2.25 goals allowed per game), power-play efficiency (fourth at 28.0 percent) and penalty-kill efficiency (seventh at 92.0 percent).

- Horns Up: No. 9 Minnesota State is another of the three NCAA teams to rank in the top-15 of those four main team statistical categories (No. 7/6 Notre Dame is the third).

  • The Mavericks have the NCAA's fifth-ranked offense (4.33 gpg) and sixth-best defense (1.83 gapg), while ranking seventh for power-play efficiency (25.0 percent) and 13th on the penalty kill (88.9 percent).
  • Lake Superior State and Minnesota State are tied for the national lead with a +15 goal margin, while the Lakers are outscoring opponents by a NCAA-best 3.75 goals per contest.

- Blue Line Contributors: A pair of sophomore defensemen are making their early marks on the NCAA scoring charts, as Minnesota State's Daniel Brickley and Lake Superior State's Owen Headrick are tied for the national lead by averaging 1.50 assists per game.

  • Among NCAA defensemen, Brickley ranks first with nine assists, 10 points, five power-play assists and six power-play points. Headrick is tops by averaging 1.75 points per game (seven in four games).

- A Look at the Polls: Minnesota State held steady at No. 9 in the USCHO.com top-20 and USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine top-15 rankings, while Bemidji State dropped to 20th (and receiving votes) after a pair of one-goal losses at No. 1 North Dakota. Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech are receiving votes in both polls.

- Tradition Starts Here: Four (4) of the nation's top-15 winningest teams over the past three seasons play in the WCHA - tied for the highest representation among that upper 25% of programs of any D-I conference since realignment (Hockey East has four, the NCHC has three, the Big Ten and ECAC Hockey both have two each and Atlantic Hockey has a single program). o Minnesota State is tied for third nationally with 81 wins, Ferris State and Michigan Tech are tied for 13th with 67 and Bowling Green is tied for 15th with 63.


By the Numbers

- 2: WCHA goaltenders ranked in the NCAA top-10 for both goals-against average and save percentage. Minnesota State senior Cole Huggins (1.27 and .942) ranks second and seventh, respectively. Bemidji State junior Michael Bitzer (1.68 and .935) is eighth and ninth.

- 4: Goals for Northern Michigan's Darien Craighead, tied for second among NCAA freshmen. He is the first Wildcat rookie with at least two multi-goal efforts since 2007-08, when Phil Fox (2) and future NHL-er Mark Olver (3) both turned the trick.

- 5: Wins for No. 9 Minnesota State, matching North Dakota for the most nationally. The Mavericks' .833 winning percentage (5-1-0) ranks fourth, while they lead the country with 26 goals scored.

- 86.8: Percentage of time that No. 20 Bemidji State has played either tied or leading through six games (312:31 of 360:00). The Beavers have skated with a lead for 236:29 (65.7 percent).


The Week Ahead

- UP Rivals Meet: One of the WCHA's fiercest rivalries resumes this weekend when Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan square off for a home-and-home series (Friday in Hougton and Saturday in Marquette).

- Broadmoor Trophy Rematch: No. 9 Minnesota State and Ferris State will meet for the first time since the Bulldogs ended the Mavericks' season with a 2-1 victory in the 2016 Final Five championship game. This weekend's series takes place in Mankato.

- Alaskas Head to the Lower 48: Alaska Anchorage and Alaska will leave the Last Frontier for the first time this season, as the Seawolves visit No. 20 Bemidji State and the Nanooks travel to Lake Superior State. LSSU will be hosting its ninth annual Pink in the Rink weekend.

- Nonconference Road Tests: A pair of WCHA teams have nonconference road games this weekend, as Bowling Green faces intra-state rival Miami in Oxford, Ohio; and, Alabama Huntsville travels to No. 10 St. Cloud State.


The Week in Review

- Lake Superior State remained undefeated on the season with a pair of victories in Huntsville, spoiling Alabama Huntsville's home opener.

- Playing in the on-campus Patty Ice Arena in Fairbanks, host Alaska's win on Saturday gave the Nanooks a split with No. 9 Minnesota State.

- In a wild WCHA showdown, Northern Michigan and Ferris State kept the fans at Ewigleben Ice Arena entertained from start to finish.

- No. 18 Bemidji State gave top-ranked North Dakota all it could handle, jumping out to an early lead Friday and staging a furious rally Saturday before eventually dropping a pair of one-goal decisions.

- Michigan Tech peppered the Michigan net all weekend, out-shooting the hosts by a 79-45 margin, but came away with just a tie in the series at Yost Ice Arena.

- In an intra-state, nonconference rivalry series, Bowling Green was swept by No. 19 Ohio State.

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


Lake Superior State 6, at Alabama Huntsville 3
Lake Superior State 5, at Alabama Huntsville 2
(Oct. 21 and 22 at Von Braun Center; Huntsville, Ala.)

Lake Superior State remained undefeated on the season with a pair of victories in Huntsville, spoiling Alabama Huntsville's home opener.

Carrying over from a 13-goal, opening-weekend outburst, the visiting Lakers tallied a goal just over a minute after the puck dropped Friday, off the stick of freshman forward Brayden Gelsinger. Trailing 2-0, the Chargers cut the deficit in half in the second period thanks to Huntsville native Josh Kestner's first goal of the season. But, the Lakers would respond in a big way, scoring four goals in the final 10 minutes of the period, courtesy of Gelsinger, J.T. Henke and two by Diego Cuglietta. UAH scored two goals in the final frame, but LSSU held on for the 6-3 victory.

It was a similar story Saturday night, but this time, it was UAH's Max McHugh scoring his fourth goal of the season. From there, it was all Lakers, as LSSU scored four unanswered goals for the second-straight night. Anthony Nellis tied the game around the midway point of the first, which was followed by a Bryan Basilico goal to put the Lakers ahead going into the locker room. Mitch Hults' early second-period score put LSSU up two, while Nellis got his second of the night. McHugh added his second goal in the beginning of the third, but Cuglietta scored his third goal of the series for a final tally of 5-2 in favor of the Lakers.


No. 9 Minnesota State 7, at Alaska 1
at Alaska 4, No. 9 Minnesota State 2
(Oct 21 and 22 at Patty Ice Arena; Fairbanks, Alaska)

Playing in the on-campus Patty Ice Arena in Fairbanks, host Alaska's win on Saturday gave the Nanooks a split with No. 9 Minnesota State.

Friday night, the Mavericks lit up the scoreboard early and often. After a Max Coatta goal eight minutes into the opening frame, freshmen forwards Nicholas Rivera and Marc Michaelis each scored for a 3-0 lead at intermission. It didn't stop there, as Alec Vanko and Rivera each scored in the second period to make it five unanswered for the Mavericks going into the third. Alaska would get on the board early in the final stanza, thanks to junior Austin Vieth's short-handed tally. Michaelis and fellow freshman Ian Scheid added a pair of power-play goals to cap off Minnesota State's 7-1 victory.

It was a different script on Saturday, as the Nanooks used three goals in the second period to pull off the 4-2 win and hand the Mavericks their first loss of the season. Minnesota State's Sean Flanagan gave the visitors an early lead, but Alaska tied things up in the opening seconds of the second period thanks to a power-play goal by Chad Staley. Goals by freshmen Ross Heidt and Colton Leiter (power-play game-winner) put the Nanooks up 3-1; and, after a goal by Scheid, Josh Erickson's empty-netter sealed the victory. UAF goaltender Jesse Jenks finished with 25 saves on the night.


Northern Michigan 6, at Ferris State 4
at Ferris State 2, Northern Michigan 2 - OT (Ferris State won the shootout, 1-0)
(Oct. 21 and 22 at Ewigleben Ice Arena; Big Rapids, Mich.)

In a wild WCHA showdown, Northern Michigan and Ferris State kept the fans at Ewigleben Ice Arena entertained from start to finish.

Friday night had fans out of their seats early, as six goals were scored in the first period of play. The teams traded the stanza's first four goals, as NMU's Darien Craighead and Collin Peters saw their scores sandwiched by a pair from the Bulldogs' Corey Mackin. Craig Pefley and Chad McDonald ended the flurry with goals of their own, putting Ferris State on top, 4-2. But it was all Wildcats the rest of the night, as Northern Michigan scored four unanswered for a 6-4, comeback win. Filip Starzynski started the rally, freshman Luke Voltin's first collegiate goal tied the game in the third period, Denver Pierce put the Wildcats ahead and Craighead added his second of the night.

It took a little bit of extra time in the finale, but Ferris State ended the weekend with two points courtesy of the first shootout victory in WCHA history. The teams traded goals throughout regulation. Trevor Recktenwald gave the Bulldogs a lead, before freshmen Rylan Yaremko (NMU) and Taylor Fernandez (FSU) scored their first career goals and Robbie Payne tied the contest at the 12:34 mark of the third. After a pair of scoreless overtime periods, Craig Pefley scored in the shootout for Ferris State and goaltender Darren Smith stuffed NMU's Casey Purpur to seal the extra league point for the Bulldogs.


at No. 1 North Dakota 3, No. 18 Bemidji State 2
at No. 1 North Dakota 5, No. 18 Bemidji State 4
(Oct. 21 and 22 at Ralph Engelstad Arena; Grand Forks, N.D.)

No. 18 Bemidji State gave top-ranked North Dakota all it could handle, jumping out to an early lead Friday and staging a furious rally Saturday before eventually dropping a pair of one-goal decisions.

The visiting Beavers took an early 2-0 lead in Friday's series opener, scoring twice in the first period on goals from Phillip Marinaccio and Brett Beauvais. Despite a season-high 33 saves from Michael Bitzer, a natural hat trick by Brock Boeser's - including a third-period penalty shot - rallied UND to the 3-2 win.

North Dakota took a 5-1 lead just 3:44 into the third period Saturday, but the Beavers staged a spirited rally. Jay Dickman and Brendan Harms scored power-play goals less than four minutes apart, and Bemidji native Dillon Eichstadt added a short-handed tally with under a minute to play; but, the Fighting Hawks held on for the 5-4 triumph.


at No. 11/12 Michigan 4, Michigan Tech 3
at No. 11/12 Michigan 3, Michigan Tech 3 - OT
(Oct. 21 and 22 at Yost Ice Arena; Ann Arbor, Mich.)

Michigan Tech peppered the Michigan net all weekend, out-shooting the hosts by a 79-45 margin, but came away with just a tie at Yost Ice Arena.

The visiting Huskies came back from a two-goal deficit but surrendered a shorthanded goal with 52 seconds to go to drop a 4-3 decision in the series opener. Alex Gillies brought Tech within 2-1 with a short-handed goal in the second period. Trailing 3-1 midway entering the third stanza, freshman Alex Smith and Reid Sturos scored to draw the Huskies even.

Michigan Tech settled for a 3-3 tie Saturday night. The Huskies outshot the Wolverines 45-18, and dominated play most of the night, but could not find the winning goal. Again trailing entering the third period, MTU rallied for the second-straight night. Goals by Chris Leibinger and Thomas Beretta (first career) gave the Huskies a 3-2 lead, but Michigan tied the game with 4:10 remaining in regulation.


No. 19 Ohio State 5, at Bowling Green 4
at No. 19 Ohio State 6, Bowling Green 1
(Oct. 21 at BGSU Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio; and, Oct. 22 at Value City Arena; Columbus, Ohio)

In an intra-state, nonconference rivalry series, Bowling Green was swept by No. 19 Ohio State.

BGSU benefited from three power-play goals and rallied from a two-goal deficit to take a second-period lead, but Ohio State produced a two-goal rally of their own in the third to defeat the host Falcons 5-4 in Friday's series opener. Matt Pohlkamp earned his third career two-goal game, Sean Walker scored for the third game in a row, and freshman Frederic Letourneau scored his first career goal in the defeat.

Ohio State posted a three-goal first period on home ice Saturday night, scored the game's first four goals and skated to a 6-1 victory in the series finale. Pierre-Luc Mercier netted his first goal of the season for the Falcons.