WCHA Week 16: Full Slate Of League Games As Stretch Drive Begins
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Michigan Tech and Minnesota State - the defending MacNaughton Cup co-champs - meet in Houghton.

Opening Face-Off

- At the Polls: League-leading Bemidji State and two-time defending MacNaughton Cup champion Minnesota State continue to carry the WCHA banner in the national opinion polls.

  • The Beavers are No. 18 in the USCHO.com poll, while the Mavericks are ranked 20th and Michigan Tech is receiving votes. Minnesota State is also receiving votes in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine top-15 poll.

- Winning Hockey: Bemidji State is tied for third nationally with 15 wins, while Michigan Tech and Minnesota State - who meet this weekend in Houghton - are tied for seventh with 14 victories apiece.

  • Going back further, Bemidji State's 26 wins between Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2016 matched Denver for most in the country during the last calendar year.

- Working Overtime: Seven-of-eight WCHA games this past weekend went to overtime, with five advancing to either the second, 3-on-3 overtime period and/or the sudden-death shootout round.

  • In 88 WCHA league games thus far, 20 have been tied after regulation. Of those, six were won in the NCAA-mandated, 5-on-5 overtime period. The other 14 contests were considered official ties, but the teams played on for an extra point in the WCHA standings -- with seven games featuring a goal in the second, 3-on-3 overtime and seven advancing all the way to a sudden-death shootout.
  • All 10 WCHA teams have played at least a 3-on-3 overtime game, with eight earning an extra WCHA point in that manner. Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Alaska and Alaska Anchorage have all scored in 3-on-3 overtime and won a shootout, while the Beavers and Nanooks are the only teams to also win in 5-on-5 overtime as well.
  • Bemidji State (2-for-2) and Alaska (3-for-3) are the only teams that are perfect in games lasting beyond 65 minutes.

- Doing it with CLASS: Three WCHA student-athletes are among the 15 candidates for the 2016-17 Senior CLASS Award for collegiate hockey: Bemidji State forward Brendan Harms, Northern Michigan defenseman Brock Maschmeyer and Ferris State forward Gerald Mayhew.

  • To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.

- Anchorage Continues Turnaround: After going 1-11-2 (0-6-2-1 WCHA) through November, Alaska Anchorage is now just three points out of a WCHA playoff spot. The Seawolves are 4-3-3 since Dec. 1, a .550 winning percentage that places them among the upper half of all D-1 teams over that span.

  • Going back further, UAA has notched points in nine of its last 13 WCHA games (19 total), posting a 4-4-5-2 league mark beginning Nov. 19.

- Tradition Starts Here: Four (4) of the nation's top-15 winningest teams over the past three seasons play in the WCHA - tied with Hockey East for the highest representation among that upper 25% of programs of any D-I conference since realignment (the NCHC has three teams, the Big Ten and ECAC Hockey both have two each and Atlantic Hockey has a single program).

  • Minnesota State ranks fourth nationally over the last three-and-a-half seasons with 90 wins, Michigan Tech is tied for 10th with 80, Bowling Green ranks 13th with 75 and Ferris State is 14th with 74.

By the Numbers

- 1-2: National rank in goals-against average for Michigan Tech freshman Angus Redmond (1.45) and Bemidji State junior Michael Bitzer (1.51).

- 15: WCHA wins for league-leading Bemidji State, the Beavers' most conference victories since finishing the 2004-05 College Hockey America campaign at 16-4-0. The program's previous WCHA best was 12 wins in 2014-15 (12-11-5).

- 71: NCAA-leading blocked shots by Lake Superior State freshman defenseman Collin Saccoman.

- 97: Total points by Lake Superior State's nine-skater sophomore class (35g-62a), tied for the third-highest among any D-1 single class (behind North Dakota's sophomores with 104 and Omaha's juniors with 100).


The Week Ahead

- Time to Buckle Up: With six weekends remaining in the regular season, every series is crucial in the race for a berth in the 2017 WCHA Playoffs, home-ice advantage for the postseason and the coveted MacNaughton Cup. All 10 teams play a league series this weekend, with important points on the line:

  • Ferris State at No. 18 Bemidji State: After their first off-weekend of the season, the Beavers return home hoping to build on their 10-point league lead. The Bulldogs are a point out of fifth place, but only four clear of ninth. This is the only meeting of the season between the teams.
  • Alaska at Bowling Green: On the strength of 11 points in their last four WCHA games - including five at Ferris State last weekend, the Nanooks are just eight points behind Bowling Green and Minnesota State for postseason home ice. The teams split a Dec. 16-17 series in Fairbanks.
  • Alabama Huntsville at Lake Superior State: A single point separates these teams, with the Chargers tied for sixth and the Lakers holding onto eighth place. UAH has won four-straight WCHA road games and is 6-1-1 overall. LSSU scored 11 goals in an Oct. 21-22 sweep in Huntsville.
  • No. 20 Minnesota State at Michigan Tech: The defending MacNaughton Cup co-champs, and two programs that have combined for 170 victories since 2013-14, meet in Houghton. The Mavericks opened their 2016-17 season Oct. 7-8 by sweeping the Huskies in Mankato.
  • Alaska Anchorage at Northern Michigan: The Seawolves, who are unbeaten in 2017 (1-0-3-1, all in WCHA play), carry a six-point lead over the Wildcats into this weekend's series. The teams split Dec. 2-3 in Anchorage.

The Week in Review

- Seven-of-eight WCHA games went into overtime, including three decided in the 3-on-3 overtime period and two going all the way to a shootout.

- Visiting Alaska came away with five points from its trip to Ferris State, scoring in 3-on-3 overtime Friday and in the 5-on-5 extra session Saturday.

- Alaska Anchorage continued to collect WCHA points, leaving Houghton with three following a pair of ties against No. 20 Michigan Tech.

- The two teams tied for third place in the WCHA standings played an entertaining series in Mankato, with Bowling Green rallying for an overtime victory Friday and No. 18 Minnesota State erasing a deficit to win Saturday.

- Upper Peninsula rivals Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan each finished with three points following a pair of 1-1 ties, with the Wildcats earning the prized Cappo Cup with a 10-9 goal advantage in the four-game series (which finished 1-1-2).

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


Alaska 3, at Ferris State 3 - OT (UAF scores in 3-on-3 overtime)
Alaska 2, at Ferris State 1 - OT
(Jan. 13 and 14 at Ewigleben Ice Arena; Big Rapids, Mich.)

Visiting Alaska came away with five points from its trip to Ferris State, scoring in 3-on-3 overtime Friday and in the 5-on-5 extra session Saturday.

The teams traded leads throughout regulation in Friday's series opener, as Gerald Mayhew opened things up midway through the first to put the home team ahead. After Brandon Morley put the Nanooks ahead 2-1 early in the second, Ferris State responded with goals from Chad McDonald and Andrew Dorantes to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead heading into the final frame. But, Nanooks forward Troy Van Tetering tied things up early in the third to send the game into overtime knotted at 3-3. After a scoreless five-minute overtime session, Austin Vieth put one in the net in the second overtime frame to give UAF the extra point. Ferris State goaltender Justin Kapelmaster ended the contest with 47 saves, while Davis Jones made 36 stops for the Nanooks.

Saturday saw the teams skate to a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation, after Mayhew and UAF's Tayler Munson scored in the first period. Alaska goaltender Davis Jones stopped 45 Bulldog shots to lead his team to victory, as freshman Danny Kiraly ended the contest with a goal 25 seconds into the overtime period.


Alaska Anchorage 3, at No. 20 Michigan Tech 3 - OT (UAA scores in 3-on-3 OT)
at No. 20 Michigan Tech 1, Alaska Anchorage 1 - OT (MTU wins shootout, 1-0)
(Jan. 13 and 14 at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena; Houghton, Mich.)

Alaska Anchorage continued to collect WCHA points, leaving Houghton with three following a pair of ties against No. 20 Michigan Tech.

The host Huskies scored three unanswered goals to erase a 2-0 deficit and take a 3-2 lead Friday, only to see the Seawolves tie the score with 25 seconds remaining in regulation, then score in the 3-on-3 overtime for the extra point. UAA's Mason Mitchell scored right before the first period ended, then Tanner Johnson came out netted a goal 13 seconds into the middle frame to give the Seawolves a 2-0 lead. The Huskies came roaring back, tying things up before heading to the third off the sticks of Jake Lucchini and Mike Neville. Tech's Matt Roy put his team ahead with just over a minute to play; but, with an extra attacker out on the ice, UAA tied the contest on an Austin Azurdia goal. UAA captain Matt Anholt ended the game with a goal in the 3-on-3 extra period.

The teams found scoring to be a tough task in Saturday's series finale. UAA sophomore Cam Amantea broke the ice late in the opening frame with his first goal of the season. Later in the second, Tech freshman Chris Gerrie knotted the score at 1-1 with his first collegiate goal. From there, the goaltenders took over, as the Huskies' Angus Redmond finished with 20 saves, while on the other end Rasmus Reijola finished with 35. It took until the shootout to settle things, with Lucchini scoring and Redmond making the stop to give Michigan Tech the extra league point.


Bowling Green 3, at No. 18 Minnesota State 2 - OT
at No. 18 Minnesota State 5, Bowling Green 3
(Jan. 13 and 14 at Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn.)

The two teams tied for third place in the WCHA standings played an entertaining series in Mankato, with Bowling Green rallying for an overtime victory Friday and No. 18 Minnesota State erasing a deficit to win Saturday.

The host Mavericks twice had one-goal leads Friday, but the Falcons rallied both times and eventually won, 3-2 in overtime. Minnesota State scored first off the stick of freshman defenseman Ian Scheid, and later received a goal from senior Zach Stepan. But, Bowling Green's Kevin Dufour scored twice in the second period to erase both the 1-0 and 2-1 deficits. After regulation ended with the score tied, the Falcons' Mitch McLain scored for the fifth-straight game, this time the OT game-winner with just 1:05 remaining in the 5-on-5 extra session.

The Falcons looked to be cruising to another victory Saturday night, as Sean Walker's two goals helped them gain a 3-1 lead early in the second period. But, the Mavericks picked up some momentum at the end of the period as C.J. Franklin cut the deficit to one - the first of four unanswered goals by the home team. Minnesota State scored three in the third period, with Zeb Knutson tying the contest at the 7:54 mark, Franklin putting the Mavericks ahead at 9:20 and Marc Michaelis sealing the 5-3 victory with an empty-netter.


Lake Superior State 1, at Northern Michigan 1 - OT (LSSU scores in 3-on-3 overtime)
Northern Michigan 1, at Lake Superior State 1 - OT (NMU wins shootout, 1-0)
(Jan. 13 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich. and Jan. 14 at Taffy Abel Arena; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.)

Upper Peninsula rivals Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan each finished with three points following a pair of 1-1 ties, with the Wildcats earning the prized Cappo Cup with a 10-9 goal advantage in the four-game series (which finished 1-1-2).

The scoring was done on the front end on Friday night in Marquette, as Laker freshman Max Humitz netted a power-play goal five minutes into the game to give his team an early 1-0 lead. But the Wildcats answered before intermission, receiving the first goal of the season by Sami Salminen. Goaltenders Gordon Defiel of LSSU (25 saves) and Atte Tolvanen of NMU (22 saves) dueled from there, with the game deadlocked through 65 minutes. The contest was finally decided in the second, 3-on-3 overtime, when Gage Torrel put one in the back of the net to give the extra league point to the visiting Lakers.

The Cappo Cup was on the line in the series finale, and the Wildcats took an early 1-0 lead as Shane Sooth scored just 39 seconds after the puck dropped in Sault Ste. Marie. But the Lakers and the freshman sensation Humitz would tie things up late in the second, where the teams would stay throughout the remainder of regulation and both overtime periods. With the Cappo Cup already secure, Northern Michigan earned the extra point in the shootout after Dominik Shine scored. Both goaltenders were once again sensational, with Defiel making 35 saves and Tolvanen stopping 21.