WCHA Week 9: Light League Weekend With Just Two WCHA Series On Tap
Nonconference Sets Include Matchups With Big Ten, ECAC and NCHC
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Bowling Green brings its four-game winning streak into a home series against visiting Alaska Anchorage.

Opening Face-Off

- Minnesota Nice in the Polls: The WCHA continues to be represented by its Minnesota contingent in this week's USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls, with No. 10/12 Bemidji State continuing to climb and No. 14 Minnesota State up one spot.

  • The Beavers' No. 10 ranking is the program's highest since BSU was No. 9 in the March 22, 2010 polls.

- November Momentum: Four WCHA teams are in the top-15 nationally for winning percentage during the month of November, including three that have turned their seasons around.

  • Bemidji State has kept its fantastic start rolling, going 5-0-1 to tie for second in the NCAA with a .917 winning percentage.
  • Bowling Green is tied for fifth at .833 (5-1-0), part of a 6-1-0 binge that began Oct. 29 (following an 0-6-1 start).
  • Michigan Tech is tied for ninth at .750 (4-1-1), while the Huskies are also 7-2-3 in their last 12 contests (after opening 0-4-0).
  • Ferris State is tied for 13th at .667 (4-2-0), while the Bulldogs have rattled off a 5-2-0 stretch (following an 0-7-1 start).

- Bemidji State Keeps Rolling: At 11-2-1, this marks the earliest in a season that Bemidji State has ever reached the double-digit win mark. The No. 10/12 Beavers are also 11-0-1-1 in WCHA play, 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 with No. 8/10 Penn State for the NCAA lead with 11 wins, while ranking second with a .821 winning pct.
  • The Beavers' current eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1) is their longest since a nine-game run (8-0-1) to start the 2009-10 season. BSU's last unbeaten streak of nine or more games came Nov. 11-Dec. 29, 2006 a streak spanning 10 games (8-0-2).
  • Bemidji State has already posted six series wins (in seven series) and five sweeps this season, after assembling five wins and three sweeps during the entire 2015-16 campaign.
  • The Beavers' 11-0-1-1 WCHA mark is the league's best start in conference play since Ferris State went 12-0-2 in 2013-14.
  • Bemidji State has either been tied or had the lead for 754:29 of 848:42 ice time this season (88.9 percent).

- Scoring Ticks Up in League Play: Just over a third of the way through the 2016-17 WCHA schedule (48 games), teams are combining to score 5.38 goals per league game (258 total), up 8.0 percent from the final 2015-6 tally of 4.98 per contest (697 goals in 140 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 84 wins, Michigan Tech is 10th with 73, Ferris State is tied for 11th with 72 and Bowling Green ranks 15th with 69.

By the Numbers

- 3: Years that passed between hat tricks by a Bowling Green player, until Mitch McLain netted three goals in an 8-3 win Saturday at UAH. Prior to McLain's effort, the last Falcon hat trick came courtesy of Mark Cooper, on Nov. 23, 2013 against Minnesota State.

- 4a: First-period assists Saturday by Bemidji State senior Brendan Harms, tying the all-time WCHA single-period record (10th time).

- 4b: NCAA-high game-winning goals by Ferris State senior Gerald Mayhew, who has only played in 11 of the Bulldogs' 15 contests.

- 6: Categories in which Bemidji State junior goaltender Michael Bitzer leads the NCAA -- shutouts (tied - 3), wins (11), games (14), starts (14), minutes (845:03) and time in net (99.6%). He is also second in goals-against average (1.35), fifth in save percentage (.943), sixth in winning percentage (.821) and 10th in saves (312).

- 10: Third-period goals scored last weekend by Bowling Green in a sweep at UAH. The Falcons erased a 1-0 deficit with a four-goal final stanza Friday (winning 4-1), then rebounded from a 3-2 deficit with a six-goal outburst Saturday (winning 8-3).


The Week Ahead

- Light WCHA Weekend: Only two WCHA series are on tap this weekend. Bowling Green brings its four-game winning streak into a home series against visiting Alaska Anchorage, which picked up its first WCHA points last weekend. Michigan Tech, which is 6-0-2-1 in its last eight league games, continues its two week Alaska stay by visiting the Nanooks.

- Trio of Nonconference Series: Three WCHA teams will play nonconference series, facing opponents from the Big Ten, ECAC Hockey and the NCHC, respectively. Lake Superior State travels to Ann Arbor to face No. 16 Michigan, No. 10/12 Bemidji State welcomes Princeton to the Sanford Center and Northern Michigan hosts Omaha.


The Week in Review

- No. 13/14 Bemidji State remained undefeated in WCHA play and ran its overall unbeaten streak to eight games, sweeping visiting Northern Michigan.

- Bowling Green continued its surge up the conference standings, using a pair of third-period outbursts (10 goals total) to capture a road sweep over host Alabama Huntsville.

- Michigan Tech ran its WCHA unbeaten streak to eight games, while Alaska Anchorage earned its first league points of the season in a tightly-contested series.

- Ferris State jumped back into the thick of the WCHA race its first series sweep of the season, defeating visiting Lake Superior State twice.

- No. 15 Minnesota State faced off against in-state rival, No. 7 Minnesota, and split the home-and-home series after each team won on its own ice.

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


at No. 13/14 Bemidji State 2, Northern Michigan 1
at No. 13/14 Bemidji State 5, Northern Michigan 2
(Nov. 18 and 19 at Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn.)

No. 13/14 Bemidji State remained undefeated in WCHA play and ran its overall unbeaten streak to eight games, sweeping visiting Northern Michigan.

Friday, all the scoring was done in the first frame before the goaltending dominated the final periods. NMU freshman defenseman Philip Beaulieu got his first career goal to open up the scoring at the 11:19 mark. The Beavers responded less than a minute later, as forward Brendan Harms put one in the back of the net to tie the game. Gerry Fitzgerald pushed the Beavers over the top with his fifth goal of the year with less than five minutes to play in the opening period. From there, Michael Bitzer (16 saves) would hold off the Wildcats for a 2-1 BSU victory.

Saturday night, the Beavers got on the board early, getting four goals in the opening period and cruising to the 5-2 win. Harms tied the WCHA record (10th time) with four assists in the frame, Phillip Marinaccio scored twice in the opening three minutes, and G. Fitzergald and Arentz also found the back of the net. Myles Fitzgerald stretched the lead to 5-0, before the Wildcats would pushed back late with scores by Beaulieu and Casey Purpur.


Bowling Green 4, at Alabama Huntsville 1
Bowling Green 8, at Alabama Huntsville 3
(Nov. 18 and 19 at Von Braun Center; Huntsville, Ala.)

Bowling Green continued its surge up the conference standings, using a pair of third-period outbursts (10 goals total) to capture a road sweep over host Alabama Huntsville.

Friday, the home team started out the scoring when Charger defenseman Kurt Gosselin scored at the 12:59 mark of the second period. Trailing 1-0 heading into the final period of play, the Falcons came out charging as Pierre-Luc Mercier tied things up two minutes into the frame. Tyler Spezia snapped the tie with the game-winner at the 9:15 mark, while Mercier and John Schilling added insurance goals for the 4-1 victory.

Mitch McLain's hat trick and a six-goal third period were the difference in an 8-3 BGSU win Saturday. Second-period goals by McLain (two), and UAH freshman Austin Beaulieu (first career goal) and the Chargers' Brandon Parker created a 2-2 tie heading into the third period. Josh Kestner gave UAH a 3-2 lead at the 3:28 mark of the final stanza, but from there it was all Falcons with six unanswered goals. Tyler Spezia tied the game 3-3, Brett D'Andrea scored the game-winner, Kevin Dufour scored twice, Lukas Craggs found the back of the net and McLain completed the hat trick.


Michigan Tech 3, at Alaska Anchorage 2
at Alaska Anchorage 1, Michigan Tech 1 - OT (UAA wins shootout, 1-0)
(Nov. 18 and 19 at Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Alaska)

Michigan Tech ran its WCHA unbeaten streak to eight games, while Alaska Anchorage earned its first league points of the season in a tightly-contested series.

Friday evening, Michigan Tech jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but needed a third-period goal by freshman Alex Smith to escape with the 3-2 win. Shane Hanna and Joel L'Esperance gave the Huskies the first-period lead, as UAA couldn't keep the puck out of its defensive zone. Seawolves' forward Mason Mitchell cut the lead in half at the 3:59 mark of the second, before teammate Brad Duwe tied things up 20 minutes later with his third goal of the season. But the Huskies were the last to strike, with Smith snapping the tie with the game-winner at the 10:14 mark.

Special teams and goaltending were the story in a 1-1 tie Saturday. The Huskies got on the board first at the 4:48 mark in the second, with a power-play goal by freshman Gavin Gould. Then, in the opening minutes of the third, UAA's Jonah Renouf tied the game up with a power-play strike two minutes in. Following scoreless 5-on-5 and 3-on-3 overtime periods, UAA freshman Aleksi Ainali scored the lone shootout goal as the Seawolves earned the extra WCHA point. UAA goaltender Olivier Mantha made 34 saves through 65 minutes, then turned aside MTU's attempt at tying the shootout. Freshman Angus Redmond made 20 saves for the Huskies.


at Ferris State 3, Lake Superior State 0
at Ferris State 7, Lake Superior State 5
(Nov. 18 and 19 at Ewigleben Ice Arena; Big Rapids, Mich.)

Ferris State jumped back into the thick of the WCHA race its first series sweep of the season, defeating visiting Lake Superior State twice.

Friday night, Ferris State freshman goaltender Justin Kapelmaster earned his first collegiate shutout, making a career-high 40 saves in a 3-0 victory for the Bulldogs. Senior forward Gerald Mayhew opened up the scoring six minutes in with his eighth goal of the season, while Craig Pefley and Mitch Maloney (empty-netter) added some insurance in the later periods.

Saturday night, the lamp was busy from the opening face-off all the way to the final horn as the teams combined for 12 goals - including six in the first period alone. The Bulldogs got on the board first with a short-handed strike by freshman Nate Kallen (first career goal) at the 3:22 mark in the first. The Lakers would strike back a few minutes later as freshman Luke Morgan got his first career goal to tie the game up. But, just eight seconds later, Chad McDonald scored a breakaway goal off the face-off the put FSU ahead. LSSU received back-to-back goals at the hands of Diego Cuglietta and Collin Saccoman, before the Bulldogs' Zac Tierney tied it up 3-3 going into the break. After the Lakers took the lead early in the second, the Bulldogs rattled off three-straight goals off the sticks of Jared VanWormer, Corey Mackin and Mayhew to get a 6-4 lead early in the third period. LSSU freshman Max Humitz pulled his team within one midway through the frame, but the Bulldogs held off the visiting squad as Mackin put in an empty-netter late to give Ferris State the 7-5 win.


at No. 15 Minnesota State 4, No. 7 Minnesota 1
at No. 7 Minnesota 1, Minnesota State 0
(Nov. 18 at Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn. and Nov. 19 at Mariucci Arena; Minneapolis, Minn.)

No. 15 Minnesota State faced off against in-state rival, No. 7 Minnesota, and split the home-and-home series after each team won on its own ice.

Friday night, the Mavericks used their home-ice advantage to get a lead early en route to a 4-1 victory. Junior forwards Brad McClure and C.J. Franklin got goals late in the first period to put Minnesota State up 2-0 heading into the locker room. The Gophers would cut the lead in half right out of the second period gate, but the Mavericks' offense was too much as McClure and Parker Tuomie finished off the scoring late in the second for the 4-1 triumph. Minnesota State goaltender Jason Pawloski finished the night with 25 saves on 26 shots.

Saturday night was a goaltenders' duel in Minneapolis, with the Gophers getting the lone goal in the second period. Pawloski had an impressive 37-save performance, but his team couldn't produce anything from its 23 shots.