- Minnesota Nice in the Polls: The WCHA is represented by its Minnesota contingent in this week's USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls: No. 13/14 Bemidji State and No. 15 Minnesota State. Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech are receiving votes
- The Beavers' No. 14 ranking is BSU's first in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll since March 22, 2010 (No. 9).
- Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech are also receiving votes in the USCHO.com poll.
- Bemidji State Keeps Rolling: At 9-2-1, No. 13/14 Bemidji State is off to its best 12-game start since the 2009-10 team opened at 10-2-0. The Beavers' undefeated 9-0-1-1 WCHA mark is also their best league start since the 1983-84 campaign. BSU went on to finish 18-0-0 in NCHA play and 31-0-0 overall en route to its first NCAA Division II national championship. More on the Beavers:
- Bemidji State is tied for second nationally with nine wins (matching No. 10/11 Penn State and one behind No. 3 Boston College), while ranking third with a .792 winning percentage.
- With a win this weekend, the Beavers can reach double-digit victories before Thanksgiving for the first time since the 2009-10 season (Nov. 21). Since then, BSU has won 10 games before the New Year only once (11-9-2 in 2011-12).
- A victory would also be the earliest, by far, that the Beavers have reached 10 WCHA wins (8 in 2010-11, March 2 in 2011-12, 5 in 2012-13, March 1 in 2013-14, Feb. 21 in 2014-15 and Feb. 27 in 2015-16).
- Bemidji State has either been tied or had the lead for 635:19 of 728:42 ice time this season (87.2 percent).
- Reversing Course: Michigan Tech, Bowling Green and Ferris State - all 2016 Final Five participants who were picked to compete for the league title this season - have begun to turn the corner after rough starts.
- Michigan Tech opened 0-4-0, but is 6-2-2 in its last eight contests - a .700 winning percentage that is tied for ninth-best nationally since Oct. 14. The Huskies' only losses in that span are a pair of one-goal setbacks on the road.
- Bowling Green is 4-1-0 after an 0-6-1 start, a streak that includes three-straight road victories.
- Ferris State was 0-7-1 entering play Oct. 29, but has won three of its last five games.
- Tradition Starts Here: Four (4) of the nation's top-15 winningest teams over the past three seasons play in the WCHA - the highest representation among that upper 25% of programs of any D-I conference since realignment (Hockey East and the NCHC each have three teams apiece, the Big Ten and ECAC Hockey both have two each and Atlantic Hockey has a single program).
- Minnesota State ranks fourth nationally with 83 wins, Michigan Tech is tied for 10th with 72, Ferris State is tied for 13th with 70 and Bowling Green ranks 15th with 67.
By the Numbers
- 7: Categories in which Bemidji State junior goaltender Michael Bitzer leads the NCAA -- goals-against average (1.32), shutouts (tied - 3), wins (9), games (12), starts (12), minutes (725:03) and time in net (99.5%). He is also fourth in save percentage (.944), ninth in saves (270) and seventh in winning percentage (.792).
- 5.25: Average combined goals scored in the first 40 WCHA league games (210 total), up 5.4 percent from the final 2015-16 tally of 4.98 per contest (697 goals in 140 games).
- 53: Saves by Alaska Anchorage junior G Olivier Mantha last Saturday at Penn State, a career-best and tied for third-most in UAA history.
- 55: Points by Lake Superior State's sophomore class (22g-33a), third most by any class of any team in the country (the senior classes at Boston College and Minnesota Duluth have each tallied 56 points).
- 101: Career wins for Michigan Tech head coach Mel Pearson, joining the legendary John MacInnes as the only coaches in program history to record at least 100 victories. Currently in his sixth season behind the bench of his alma mater, Pearson - a two-time WCHA Coach of the Year - owns a 101-83-24 (.543) career mark.
The Week Ahead
- Four WCHA Series Ahead: No. 13/14 Bemidji State brings its 9-0-1-1 record into a series with visiting Northern Michigan; intra-state rivals meet when Lake Superior State visits Ferris State; Bowling Green takes its three-game road winning streak to Alabama Huntsville; and, Michigan Tech, 5-0-1 in its last six league games, travels to Alaska Anchorage.
- Mavericks-Gophers Renew Series: A matchup between ranked Big Ten and WCHA opponents brings No. 15 Minnesota State and No. 7 Minnesota back together for a home-and-home series, beginning Friday night in Mankato.
The Week in Review
- In a tightly-contested series between nationally-ranked teams at or near the top of the WCHA standings, No. 15 Bemidji State came away with five points at No. 11 Minnesota State. Both contests went to overtime, with the Beavers earning the extra point Friday via a goal in the 3-on-3, second extra period.
- Michigan Tech ran its WCHA unbeaten streak to six games (5-0-1) with a sweep of visiting No. 20 Lake Superior State in a matchup of UP rivals.
- After rallying from a 3-0 deficit to earn a tie and, eventually, an extra league point Friday, visiting Alaska won outright Saturday to earn five points out of a road trip to Alabama Huntsville.
- Playing just its third WCHA series of the year, Bowling Green jumped back into the league race with a sweep at Northern Michigan.
- Ferris State continued its tour of Michigan teams, earning a 4-1 nonconference win at Michigan State on Thursday before falling to the Spartans on Saturday at home.
- Alaska Anchorage received an NCAA-best 92 saves last weekend from junior goaltender Olivier Mantha, but still dropped a pair of nonconference games at No. 12 Penn State.
- Full recaps, box scores and select video highlights are available online at wcha.com.
No. 15 Bemidji State 1, at No. 11 Minnesota State 1 - OT (BSU scores in 3v3 OT)
No. 15 Bemidji State 2, at No. 11 Minnesota State 1 - OT
(Nov. 11 and 12 at Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn.)
In a tightly-contested series between nationally-ranked teams at or near the top of the WCHA standings, No. 15 Bemidji State came away with five points at No. 11 Minnesota State. Both contests went to overtime, with the Beavers earning the extra point Friday via a goal in the 3-on-3, second extra period.
It took more than 65 minutes and the Beavers' debut in 3-on-3 play, but BSU battled back to force overtime, gain a 1-1 tie and earn an extra point in Friday's series opener. BSU trailed for 45:54, but got a goal from defender Dan Billett at the 8:25 mark of the third that forced overtime. After the teams went five minutes of extra time without a goal for an official 1-1 tie, Charlie O'Connor scored during 3-on-3 overtime play to tilt the extra point in favor of the Beavers. Minnesota State freshman Charlie Gerard scored his first collegiate goal just 2:31 into the contest, but BSU goaltender Michael Bitzer (25 saves) shut the door after that. Maverick netminder Jason Pawloski also made 25 stops.
The Beavers and Mavericks also needed more than 60 minutes to decide a winner Saturday night and, for the second time in as many contests, the Beavers came away on top. Just 1:37 into overtime, Jay Dickman found Nate Arentz for a goal to give BSU a 2-1 victory and a series victory. Mike Soucier gave BSU an early 1-0 lead 2:22 into the first period, but Minnesota State freshman Marc Michaelis answered just 3:51 later to draw the Mavericks even. Both goaltenders were again outstanding, with Bitzer making 32 saves and MSU's Cole Huggins finishing with 24 stops.
at Michigan Tech 6, No. 20 Lake Superior State 1
at Michigan Tech 4, No. 20 Lake Superior State 2
(Nov. 11 and 12 at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena; Houghton, Mich.)
Michigan Tech ran its WCHA unbeaten streak to six games (5-0-1) with a sweep of visiting No. 20 Lake Superior State in a matchup of UP rivals.
Huskies' head coach Mel Pearson picked up his 100th career win in Michigan Tech's 6-1 victory in Friday's series opener. Jake Jackson and Gavin Gould each had a pair of goals, and Angus Redmond stopped 24 shots in the win. Tech opened up the scoring at the 17:18 mark of the first period and added one more in the frame, before scoring once in the second stanza and twice more in the final frame. Lakers' defenseman Kyle Chatham scored LSSU's lone goal at the 12:22 mark of the third.
Down 2-1 late in the second period Saturday, the Huskies scored the game's final three goals. Joel L'Esperance scored the equalizer with 3:55 left in the middle frame of an assist from Gould. Tyler Heinonen snapped the tie with a power-play goal 6:38 into the third period, while L'Esperance put the game away with a goal at the 18:46 mark. Diego Cuglietta and Gage Torrel each scored to give the Lakers their 2-1 lead, while LSSU goaltender Gordon Defiel was impressive with 43 saves.
Alaska 3, at Alabama Huntsville 3 - OT (UAF scores in 3v3 OT)
Alaska 3, at Alabama Huntsville 1
(Nov. 11 and 12 at Von Braun Center; Huntsville, Ala.)
After rallying from a 3-0 deficit to earn a tie and, eventually, an extra league point Friday, visiting Alaska won outright Saturday to earn five points out of a road trip to Alabama Huntsville.
UAH jumped out to a 3-0 lead in front of the home crowd Friday night, receiving first-period goals from Brandon Carlson and Matt Salhany, along with a Jordan Larson score 1:43 into the second stanza. The Nanooks, however, came roaring back. Marcus Basara started the comeback with a goal at the 15:34 mark of the second period, Justin Woods scored on the power play 35 seconds into the third and John Mullally tied the game at the 11:47 mark of the final stanza. After a scoreless first overtime period, Alaska's Tayler Munson buried a rebound in the 3-on-3 OT to give the Nanooks an extra point in the league standings.
Hunter Anderson's first goal of the season gave the Chargers a quick, 1-0 lead 2:36 into Saturday's series finale. But, like the night before, Alaska scored the game's final three goals to earn a 3-1 win. Munson and Chad Staley put the Nanooks on top with second-period goals, while Colton Leiter put the game away with an empty-net strike in the final minute. UAF goaltender Jesse Jenks made 26 saves for the win, while Chargers' senior Carmine Guerriero stopped 23-of-25 shots in his season debut.
Bowling Green 5, at Northern Michigan 1
Bowling Green 5, at Northern Michigan 3
(Nov. 11 and 12 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich.)
Playing just its third WCHA series of the year, Bowling Green jumped back into the league race with a sweep at Northern Michigan.
The visiting Falcons scored three times in the first period and received points from 10 different skaters en route to a 5-1 victory in Friday's series opener. Sean Walker, Frederic Letourneau and Matt Pohlkamp all scored during a dominating opening 20 minutes by BGSU. After NMU's Troy Loggins got the Wildcats back into the game with a second-period goal, the Falcons' Brett D'Andrea and Mitch McLain tallied final-stanza goals to finish off the win. Bowling Green goaltender Chris Nell made 24 saves in the victory.
John Schilling snapped a 3-3 tie midway into the third period, M. Pohlkamp added an empty-net insurance marker and five different Falcons scored goals to give BGSU a 5-3 victory in Saturday's series finale. A wild first period saw four goals scored and end in a 2-2 tie. Matt Meier gave BGSU an early 1-0 lead, but goals by Brendan Jacques and Filip Starzynski put NMU on top, 2-1. Mark Friedman's strike 49 seconds before intermission tied the score. The Falcons' Kevin Dufour and the Wildcats' Dominik Shine traded second-period goals, setting the stage for Schilling and Pohlkamp in the final stanza.
Ferris State 4, at Michigan State 1
Michigan State 4, at Ferris State 3
(Nov. 10 at Munn Ice Arena; East Lansing, Mich. and Nov. 12 at Ewigleben Ice Arena; Big Rapids, Mich.)
Ferris State continued its tour of Michigan teams, earning a 4-1 nonconference win at Michigan State on Thursday before falling to the Spartans on Saturday at home.
The visiting Bulldogs notched three power-play goals in building a three-goal lead and freshman netminder Justin Kapelmaster remained unbeaten with his third victory of the season in Thursday's 4-1 win in East Lansing. Mitch Maloney scored on the man advantage in the first period, while Gerald Mayhew and freshman Joe Rutkowski (first career goal) added power-play strikes in the second. Corey Mackin iced the game with an empty-net strike, while Kapelmaster made an impressive 31 saves in earning his third-straight road win.
Ferris State saw a 3-1 lead slip away Saturday in a 4-3 loss before a sellout crowd of 2,490 fans inside FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena. After Michigan State took a 1-0 lead just 1:27 into the game, the Bulldogs thrilled the home crowd with a three-goal outburst before intermission. Andrew Mayer, Mayhew and Jared VanWormer all scored to give FSU a 3-1 advantage after one period. The Spartans, however, scored once in the second and twice more in the third period - including the game-winner at the 10:23 mark - for the comeback win. FSU goaltender Darren Smith finished with 21 saves.
at No. 12 Penn State 6, Alaska Anchorage 3
at No. 12 Penn State 3, Alaska Anchorage 1
(Nov. 11 and 12 at Pegula Ice Arena; State College, Pa.)
Alaska Anchorage received an NCAA-best 92 saves last weekend from junior goaltender Olivier Mantha, but still dropped a pair of nonconference games at No. 12 Penn State.
The Seawolves set a season-high for goals in Friday's series opener, but dropped a 6-3 decision. Tad Kozun scored his first two goals of the season, while Jarret Brown also found the back of the net for UAA. Penn State scored three times in the first period and eventually led 4-0 before the Seawolves got on the scoreboard.
Mantha made a career-best 53 saves (on 55 shots) Saturday, tying for the third-highest single-game total in UAA history. While his heroics in net kept the Seawolves in the game, it was not enough in a 3-1 loss. The junior made 10 stops in the first period, 25 in the second and 18 in the third. Kozun's third goal of the season brought UAA within 2-1 at the 5:54 mark of the third period, but Penn State iced the game with an empty-net goal in the final 30 seconds.