WCHA Week 10: League Leaders Collide As Michigan Tech Hosts No. 13 Bemidji State
Huskies-Beavers Matchup Highlights First Weekend Of Five WCHA Series
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Surging Michigan Tech, which is 8-0-2-1 in its last 10 WCHA games, hosts front-running Bemidji State. The second-place Huskies have 27 league points, eight behind the No. 13 Beavers.

Opening Face-Off

- November Turnaround: Four men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) teams finished in the top-15 nationally for winning percentage during the month of November, including three that have turned their seasons around.

  • Bowling Green and Michigan Tech each tied for third at .812 (6-1-1), behind only Penn State (1.000, 6-0-0) and Minnesota Duluth (.833, 5-1-0). The six wins match the Nittany Lions and Boston College for the most nationally in November, and are part of larger turnarounds for both teams. The Falcons are 7-1-1 since Oct. 29 to rebound from a winless start (0-6-1), while the Huskies are 9-2-3 in their last 14 contests after opening 0-4-0 (a .750 winning percentage that is tied for sixth nationally since Oct. 14).
  • Despite stumbling last weekend, Bemidji State posted a .688 mark in November (5-2-1) to tie for 11th nationally.
  • Ferris State 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).

- Solid in Net: The WCHA has been home to some of the NCAA's top goaltending through the first quarter of the 2016-17 season, as Bemidji State junior Michael Bitzer, Ferris State freshman Justin Kapelmaster, Minnesota State sophomore Jason Pawloski and Michigan Tech freshman Angus Redmond all rank among the top-10- nationally for goals-against average and save percentage.

  • Redmond, who made his first collegiate start Oct. 28 (after 12:08 in relief Oct. 14) and has started Michigan Tech's last 10 contests, leads the nation with a 1.46 GAA, ranks 10th with a .933 save percentage and is fourth with a .850 winning percentage (8-1-1).
  • Bitzer, the NCAA's active leader with 13 career shutouts, is tops nationally in 2016-17 with 11 wins and three shutouts, is second with a 1.46 GAA, sixth with a .938 save percentage and eighth with a .767 winning percentage (11-3-1). The No. 13 Beavers, meanwhile, have boasted the NCAA's stingiest defense to date, allowing just 1.62 goals per game.
  • Pawloski, who has started four of the last five games for the No. 15 Mavericks, is fourth with a 1.62 GAA and .942 save percentage. His teammate, senior Cole Huggins, is 11th with a 1.99 GAA and tied for 18th with a .667 winning pct. (6-3-0).
  • Kapelmaster, who has taken the starting reins at Ferris State, leads the NCAA with a perfect 1.000 winning percentage after opening his collegiate career 5-0-0. He also ranks ninth with a 1.85 GAA and third with a .943 save percentage.

- At the Polls: Bemidji State and Minnesota State continue to carry the WCHA banner in the national opinion polls.

  • The Beavers dropped to No. 13 in the USCHO.com poll and are receiving votes in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine top-15, while the Mavericks are ranked No. 15 in both. Michigan Tech and Lake Superior State are each receiving votes in the USCHO.com poll.

- 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 75, Ferris State is tied for 12th with 72 and Bowling Green ranks 15th with 70.

By the Numbers

- 1.00: Points-per-game average by Ferris State redshirt freshman Craig Pefley (3g-12a=15pts in 15 games) and Minnesota State freshman Marc Michaelis (5g-9a=14pts in 14 games), tied for ninth-best among all NCAA rookies.

- 2: Wins - and assists - for Ferris State freshman goaltender Justin Kapelmaster during the Bulldogs' last series, a sweep of Lake Superior State on Nov. 18 and 19. The rookie earned his first collegiate shutout, while also posting an assist each night of the series.

- 3: WCHA teams in the top-10 nationally for wins this season. Bemidji State is tied for second with 11, Michigan Tech is tied for fifth with nine and Minnesota State is tied for ninth with eight.

- 4: NCAA-best game-winning goals by Ferris State senior forward Gerald Mayhew, including three in November as the Bulldogs went 4-2-0.


The Week Ahead

- First Full WCHA Weekend: For the first time this season, all 10 WCHA schools will be involved in league play on the same weekend.

- Top Contenders Meet in Houghton: Surging Michigan Tech, which is 8-0-2-1 in its last 10 WCHA games, hosts front-running Bemidji State. The second-place Huskies have 27 league points, eight behind the No. 13 Beavers.

- Elsewhere Around the League: Bowling Green brings its six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1) to Sault Ste. Marie to face-off with Lake Superior State; No. 15 Minnesota State, which split a series Oct. 21-22 at Fairbanks, hosts the Nanooks; Northern Michigan visits Alaska Anchorage; and, Ferris State, which is 4-1-0 in its last five WCHA games, visits Alabama Huntsville hoping to avenge a season-opening sweep at the hands of the Chargers.


The Week in Review

- Bowling Green remained hot, running its unbeaten streak to six games and earning five of six points following a tie and win against visiting Alaska Anchorage.

- Michigan Tech remained unbeaten in its last 10 WCHA games, capping a two-week stay in Alaska with a sweep in Fairbanks.

- Lake Superior State posted its first victory in Ann Arbor since the 2005-06 season, before settling for a nonconference split at No. 16 Michigan.

- Northern Michigan received a pair of strong defensive and goaltending efforts, but could not snap its winless streak following a tie and loss to visiting Omaha in nonconference play.

- No. 10/12 Bemidji State, looking to continue its eight-game unbeaten streak, stumbled to a pair of nonconference losses against visiting Princeton.

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


at Bowling Green 3, Alaska Anchorage 3 - OT (BGSU scores in 3v3 overtime)
at Bowling Green 3, Alaska Anchorage 0
(Nov. 25 and 26 at BGSU Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio)

Bowling Green remained hot, running its unbeaten streak to six games and earning five of six points following a tie and win against visiting Alaska Anchorage.

The Falcons and Seawolves played for 66:17 on Friday night, skating to a 3-3 tie before Bowling Green earned the extra WCHA point in dramatic fashion. Junior Mitch McLain scored 1:17 into the 3-on-3, second overtime session for the all-important extra point. Kevin Dufour got the host Falcons on the board 46 seconds into the contest, but UAA scored the next two goals off the sticks of Alex Jackstadt and Nicolas Erb-Ekholm. The lead would be short-lived, as BGSU's Brett D'Andrea scored 18 seconds later and Sean Walker added a power-play strike to give the Falcons a 3-2 lead after two periods. Matt Anholt tied things up with a goal 10 seconds into the third, setting the stage for the late-night heroics.

The Falcons carried the scoring over to the next night, using a pair of first-period goals by Tyler Spezia and Lukas Craggs en route to a 3-0 victory. Freshman Casey Linkenheld scored his first collegiate goal, while fellow rookie Ryan Bednard earned his first career win and shutout with an 11-save effort. UAA junior goaltender Olivier Mantha stopped 31 shots in an impressive effort.


Michigan Tech 4, at Alaska 1
Michigan Tech 2, at Alaska 1
(Nov. 25 and 26 at Carlson Center; Fairbanks, Alaska)

Michigan Tech remained unbeaten in its last 10 WCHA games, capping a two-week stay in Alaska with a sweep in Fairbanks.

Friday night, the host Nanooks got on the board first off the stick of freshman Ross Heidt at the 9:13 mark in the first period. But less than 40 seconds later, the Huskies responded with a Tyler Heinonen goal - the first of four answered tallies for Tech. Jake Lucchini scored the game-winner 4:38 into the second period, Joel L'Esperance found the back of the net later in the stanza and Chris Leibinger added an empty-net strike for the 4-1 victory.

Goaltending was the story in Saturday's game, as Michigan Tech's Angus Redmond and Alaska's Jesse Jenks had 26 and 28 saves, respectively, to keep the game close throughout. Brent Baltus got Tech on the board first with his second goal of the season 11 minutes into the opening period, while Shane Hanna added another tally to put the Huskies up 2-0 in the second. UAF's Marcus Basara cut the lead in half before the end of the second, but Redmond and the Huskies held on for the 2-1 victory and the sweep.


Lake Superior State 3, at No. 16 Michigan 1
at No. 16 Michigan 4, Lake Superior State 1
(Nov. 25 and 26 at Yost Ice Arena; Ann Arbor, Mich.)

Lake Superior State posted its first victory in Ann Arbor since the 2005-06 season, before settling for a nonconference split at No. 16 Michigan.

Friday night, the scoring didn't get going until the middle of the second when the Wolverines took a 1-0 lead, but the Lakers would respond 23 seconds later as sophomore Josh Nenadal got his second goal of the season to knot things up. Gordon Defiel kept the LSSU net clean with 29 saves to give his team a chance, which came with just under three minutes to play. LSSU freshman Luke Morgan - a Brighton, Mich. native playing in front of family and friends - snapped the 1-1 tie with the game-winning goal at the 17:03 mark of the third period. Gus Correale finished off the Wolverines with an empty-netter, capping a 3-1 victory for the visiting Lakers.

C.J. Hayes scored at the 15:17 mark of the first period Saturday to make the score 1-1 going into intermission, but the Wolverines scored three unanswered goals - capped by an empty-netter - to split the series with a 4-1 win.


at Northern Michigan 2, Omaha 2 (NMU scores in 3v3 overtime)
Omaha 2, at Northern Michigan 0
(Nov. 25 and 26 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich.)

Northern Michigan received a pair of strong defensive and goaltending efforts, but could not snap its winless streak following a tie and loss to visiting Omaha in nonconference play.

Friday night, goaltender Atte Tolvanen kept his team in the contest with a 37-save effort and a pair of his forwards helped NMU earn a 2-2 tie. After Omaha opened the scoring at the 10-minute mark of the first period, Dominik Shine tied things up just 42 seconds later. A mere 35 seconds after that, Troy Loggins pushed the Wildcats ahead with his third tally of the season. Omaha used a power-play goal to tie the game midway through the second period, where the score would remain through the 5-on-5 overtime session. The teams continued into a second OT of 3-on-3 play, where Robbie Payne tapped a Shine rebound into an empty net with 8.3 seconds left on the clock.

The Wildcats hoped to carry the momentum from the double-OT goal into the next night, but just were not able to put anything in the Mavericks net. Omaha used a pair of second-period goals and a 31-save shutout by Evan Weninger to earn the 2-0 road win.


Princeton 4, at No. 10/12 Bemidji State 1
Princeton 3, at No. 10/12 Bemidji State 1
(Nov. 25 and 26 at Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn.)

No. 10/12 Bemidji State, looking to continue its eight-game unbeaten streak, stumbled to a pair of nonconference losses against visiting Princeton.

Friday night was scoreless until the Tigers rattled off a pair of goals towards the end of the second period for a 2-0 lead. Brendan Harms cut the lead in half with a power-play goal at the 12:39 mark of the third period, but that would be it for the host Beavers. Princeton added two more goals, including an empty-net marker, for the 4-1 victory.

The Beavers looked to get back on track the next night, as Nate Arentz gave BSU a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission. But, it was all Princeton from there, as the Tigers scored three unanswered goals for the 3-1 win and sweep. BSU goaltender Jesse Wilkins started and made 20 saves in his first appearance of the season.