- First Month in the Books: With the first month of the 2016-17 college hockey season complete, the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings have a different look than what was expected by the league's coaches and media.
- Bemidji State has jumped up to 18th in the USCHO.com poll on the strength of a 6-2-0 overall record, which includes a perfect league mark and a pair of one-goal road losses at then-No. 1 North Dakota. The Beavers' 6-0-0 start in conference play is their best since going 8-0-0 to open the 2009-10 College Hockey America campaign. In fact, this is the first time that BSU has won six league games before Jan. 1 during its WCHA era; and, is only the second time since joining the league that the Beavers have won six contests overall prior to the New Year (also by Dec. 3, 2011).
- At 5-1-0 overall, Lake Superior State is off to its best start since the 1995-96 season. Aside from a Harvard team that played its first two games last weekend, the Lakers have the NCAA's most potent offense to date at 5.00 goals-per-game. With a 3-1-0 mark in WCHA play, LSSU enters November in fourth place in the league standings.
- Minnesota State, which has won at least a share of the MacNaughton Cup two years running, stands at No. 10 in both the USCHO.com and USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine polls. The 6-2-0 Mavericks are 4-2-0 in league play, good for second place.
- After an 0-4-0 start, Michigan Tech is 3-1-2 in its last six games. At 3-2-1 in WCHA play, the defending league co-champs are in third place entering November.
- Winning Hockey: Bemidji State and Minnesota State are two of five teams to win a NCAA-high six games in October, joining No. 5 Boston College, No. 2 Denver and No. 20 Union.
- League Scoring Ticks Up: The 24 WCHA league games in October saw an average of 5.25 goals scored per game (126 total), up 5.4 percent from the final 2015-16 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 - 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).
- Minnesota State ranks fourth nationally with 82 wins, Michigan Tech is tied for 11th with 69, Ferris State is tied for 13th with 68 and Bowling Green is tied for 15th with 64.
By the Numbers
- 13: Career shutouts by Michael Bitzer, already a Bemidji State program record just one month into his junior season. He also leads the NCAA with three blank slates this season.
- 156: NCAA-high blocked shots by Alabama Huntsville this season. Cam Knight leads the nation individually with 25 blocks in 10 games, while Brandon Carlson and Brandon Parker are tied for second with 23 blocks apiece.
- 434:36: Minutes and seconds, out of 482:05 total played, that Bemidji State has been either tied or had the lead (90.2 percent). The Beavers have skated with a lead for 65.2 percent of their ice time this season (314:19).
The Week Ahead
- No. 10 Minnesota State at Lake Superior State: The 5-1-0 Lakers get perhaps their toughest test to date, welcoming the 10th-ranked Mavericks to the Soo. The teams have met in the last two WCHA Quarterfinals, including a three-game set won by MSU this past March.
- Ferris State at Bowling Green: Two teams picked to finish near the top of the league standings will meet as the Falcons host the Bulldogs. Ferris State has earned five points the last two weekends, while BGSU returns to WCHA play for the first time since Oct. 7-8.
- Beavers, Chargers head to Alaska: No. 18 Bemidji State takes its perfect 6-0-0 league record to Fairbanks to face UAF, which has knocked off Minnesota State and Lake Superior State the past two weekends. Alaska Anchorage hosts an Alabama Huntsville team that has enjoyed its best success this season in league play.
- WCHA-Big Ten matchups: Two nonconference series with the Big Ten this weekend. Michigan Tech travels to Michigan State, while Northern Michigan plays Wisconsin for the second weekend this season (also Oct. 7 and 8 in Green Bay).
The Week in Review
- It was a pair of tightly-contested games in Mankato as No. 9 Minnesota State split with Ferris State in a rematch of the 2016 Broadmoor Trophy championship game.
- Bemidji State improved to 6-0-0 in WCHA play this season with a series sweep of visiting Alaska Anchorage.
- The visiting Alaska Nanooks handed Lake Superior State its first defeat of the season, winning in overtime Saturday to secure a WCHA weekend split.
- In an early-season home and home conference matchup, Michigan Tech swept Northern Michigan thanks to the Huskies' young goaltender.
- Alabama Huntsville traveled north to visit nonconference foe No. 10 St. Cloud State and, despite being competitive in both contests, came away.
- Bowling Green traveled to Oxford, Ohio to take on nonconference foe Miami and came away with its first victory of the season.
- Full recaps, box scores and select video highlights are available online at wcha.com.
at No. 9 Minnesota State 4, Ferris State 2
Ferris State 4, at No. 9 Minnesota State 3
(Oct. 28 and 29 at Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn.)
It was a pair of tightly-contested games in Mankato as No. 9 Minnesota State split with Ferris State in a rematch of the 2016 Broadmoor Trophy championship game.
Ferris State got on the board first Friday night thanks to a Craig Pefley goal off of a deflection just 21 seconds in. But, Minnesota State would score four unanswered goals en route to the 4-2 win. Brad McClure tied things up for the Mavericks in the first period and added his second goal of the game in the second stanza, while Jordan Nelson and Ian Scheid also scored. Bulldog forward Mitch Maloney would net a power play goal to make things 4-2, where it would stay to give the Mavericks the victory. MSU goaltender Cole Huggins recorded 24 saves on the night.
It was a different story Saturday night, as Ferris State jumped on the Mavericks in the second period as senior Gerald Mayhew got an even strength goal early in the period. The Bulldogs would score twice more in the frame to head to intermission up 3-0. Minnesota State was shut out of the Ferris State net until the middle of the last frame, when sophomore defenseman Alec Vanko got an even-strength goal to get the home team on the board. The Mavericks eventually tied the game at 3-3 thanks to goals by Michael Huntebrinker and McClure (his third of the weekend). But Ferris State would not be denied, as Mayhew got his second goal of the game with just over a minute left to play to give the Bulldogs their first victory of the year. FSU freshman goaltender Justin Kapelmaster made 28 saves for his first win in his first collegiate start.
at No. 20 Bemidji State 2, Alaska Anchorage 1 - OT
at No. 20 Bemidji State 4, Alaska Anchorage 0
(Oct 28 and 29 at Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn.)
Bemidji State improved to 6-0-0 in WCHA play this season with a series sweep of visiting Alaska Anchorage.
In what is becoming a regular occurrence, the Beavers got on the scoreboard first with a power-play goal by Brendan Harris midway through the first frame of Friday night's matchup. This lead would hold until just over the halfway point of the third period, when Matt Anholt scored his first goal of the season for the Seawolves to tie the game 1-1. In the extra period, BSU senior Phillip Marinaccio secured three points for his team as the Beavers gutted out a 2-1, overtime victory. The Seawolves were aided by 32 saves by goaltender Oliver Mantha, while on the other end Michael Bitzer made 14 saves for the Beavers.
Bemidji State kept the scoring going the next night with a 4-0 shutout at the Sanford Center. Bitzer cemented his place in Beavers history, becoming the program's all-time shutout leader with his 13th career blank sheet. Gerry Fitzgerald got the scoring started with a power-play goal in the second frame. That opened the gates for the Beavers, who tallied three goals in the third period, courtesy of freshman Dylan McCrory, Kyle Bauman and T.J. Roo. Bitzer finished with 17 saves while Mantha posted 31 for the Seawolves.
at Lake Superior State 3, Alaska 2
Alaska 4, at Lake Superior State 3 - OT
(Oct. 28 and 29 at Taffy Abel Arena; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.)
The visiting Alaska Nanooks handed Lake Superior State its first defeat of the season, winning in overtime Saturday to secure a WCHA weekend split.
UAF got the scoring going first Friday, jumping out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of late first-period goals from Chad Staley and Tristan Thompson. But the Lakers came roaring out of the locker room, getting a power-play goal from sophomore Owen Headrick and, soon after, a score from freshman Max Humitz to tie the game early in the second frame. Diego Cuglietta scored the short-handed game-winner later in the period to keep the Lakers undefeated on the season with a 3-2 victory.
Saturday night was yet another exciting, one-goal game, with the visiting Nanooks pulling out the victory this time. For the second straight night, UAF jumped out to a 2-0 lead early thanks to goals by Marcus Basara and freshman Ross Heidt. The Lakers responded with a Gage Torrel power-play goal to cut the lead in half going into the break. But it wasn't even a minute into the next period that Mitch Hults tied the game at 2-2. The teams remained knotted up until late in the third, when Alaska's Zach Frye tallied a power-play goal and Hults scored his second of the game to force overtime. But the scoring would end on the stick of how it started, as Basara got his second goal of the game to give the Nanooks the overtime victory and hand the Lakers their first loss of the year.
at Michigan Tech 2, Northern Michigan 0
Michigan Tech 5, at Northern Michigan 1
(Oct. 28 at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena; Houghton, Mich. and Oct. 29 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich.)
In an early-season home and home conference matchup, Michigan Tech swept Northern Michigan thanks to the Huskies' young goaltender.
Friday night, in front of a standing room only crowd, freshman goaltender Angus Redmond stole the show, making 19 saves in his first career start. Jake Lucchini got the Huskies on the board first with a power-play goal midway through the first period. It would remain a one-goal game until another Tech sophomore Jake Jackson gave his team an insurance goal with just over three minutes left to play, as the home team came away with a 2-0 win. Northern Michigan goaltender Atte Tolvanen finished with 35 saves.
The hot hand continued for the Huskies the next night, as they used three first-period goals to propel them to victory. Dylan Steman got the first goal of the game short-handed, while Tech finished the opening frame with a pair of power-play goals off the sticks of Tyler Heinonen and Brent Baltus. The Huskies kept the special team scores coming in the second frame as freshman Mitch Reinke got his first career goal on a power-play strike midway through the period. Mike Neville would put the finishing touches on the victory for Michigan Tech with a short-handed marker towards the end of the middle frame. Wildcat forward Robbie Payne would get the lone tally for his team in the third for his fifth goal of the season. Redmond capped a great first weekend in net with a 29-save performance.
at No. 10 St. Cloud State 5, Alabama Huntsville 1
at No. 10 St. Cloud State 5, Alabama Huntsville 2
(Oct. 28 and 29 at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center; St. Cloud, Minn.)
Alabama Huntsville traveled north to visit nonconference foe No. 10 St. Cloud State and, despite being competitive in both contests, came away.
The Chargers kept even with the Huskies for most of Friday night, with the game tied at 1-1 heading into the final period play thanks to a goal by Huntsville native Josh Kestner midway through the second period. But in the final frame it was all Huskies, rattling off four unanswered goals to win the contest 5-1. Chargers goaltender Jordan Uhelski held St. Cloud in check for most of the night, stopping 31 of 32 shots in the first two periods before finishing the night with 48 saves.
Different night, same story for the fans in St. Cloud, as it would yet again be a stretch of four unanswered goals that would propel the Huskies to victory Saturday. In the first period, Kestner scored his second goal of the weekend to give the Chargers the lead heading into the second frame. But the home team came out firing, scoring four goals on ten shots and taking a commanding 4-1 lead heading into the final period. Sophomore defenseman Cam Knight cut the lead to two with his first goal of the season midway through the third. But the Huskies put the visiting team away with another goal a few minutes later to finish off the weekend with a 5-2 victory. Uhelski finished with 24 saves on the night.
at Miami 2, Bowling Green 1 - OT
Bowling Green 4, at Miami 1
(Oct. 28 and 29 at Goggin Ice Center; Oxford, Ohio)
Bowling Green traveled to Oxford, Ohio to take on nonconference foe Miami and came away with its first victory of the season.
Friday night, the scoring was hard to find, as the first goal wasn't scored until the beginning of the third period, when Carson Meyer put one through to give host Miami the lead. But just when things were looking bleak for the Flacons, junior defenseman Mark Friedman buried one in the back of the net to tie things up with just over a minute left in regulation. But it would be the Redhawks who would prevail in the extra frame, as Anthony Louis scored two minutes in.
The script flipped on Saturday night, as the teams came storming out of the gates early. After the home team scored early in the first, Falcon senior Pierre-Luc Mercier got the game back to even. That would be followed up with a Matt Pohlkamp goal to take the lead and, from there, the Falcons never looked back. John Schilling and Friedman added some insurance goals to give Bowling Green their first win of the season 4-1. Chris Nell made 17 stops to cap a 31-save weekend.