WCHA Week 5: Top-20 Matchup In Mankato On Tap
No. 14/12 Minnesota State hosts No. 16 Michigan Tech in key early-season WCHA series; Bemidji State welcomes Ferris State and Alaska visits Bowling Green, While Alabama Huntsville (at Cornell) & Lake Superior State (at Michigan State) hit the road
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No. 14/12 Minnesota State hosts No. 16 Michigan Tech in key early-season WCHA series

Opening Face-Off

- Early Statements: Twenty-four (24) of the WCHA's first 31 nonconference games have come against ranked teams (as of puck drop). WCHA teams have responded with important efforts, compiling eight wins and four ties in those contests. Among the highlights (rankings listed as of game time):

  • Minnesota State, the preseason coaches' and media favorite to win the WCHA, went on the road and swept No. 2 Boston University on Oct. 13 and 14.
  • Northern Michigan defeated No. 6/5 Wisconsin, 5-4 in overtime, last Friday in Green Bay.
  • Reigning MacNaughton Cup champion Bemidji State posted a win and tie over No. 5/9 Minnesota Duluth (Oct. 13-14), and handed No. 20 Air Force its first loss of the season last Friday.
  • Michigan Tech won the 2017 Ice Breaker Tournament after defeating No. 16 Union on Oct. 6, followed by host and No. 6/12 Minnesota Duluth on Oct. 7.
  • Lake Superior State skated to a 3-3 tie last Friday at defending national champion and top-ranked Denver, while Alaska Anchorage earned a draw with No. 7 North Dakota in the Oct. 6 season opener.

- Presence in the Polls: Thanks to those impressive early-season performances (see below), the WCHA now has a pair of teams ranked in the national polls, with two more receiving votes.

  • Minnesota State (No. 12) and Michigan Tech (No. 16) are in the USCHO.com poll, while the Mavericks are 14th in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine top-15 (the Huskies are receiving votes). Bemidji State received votes in the USCHO poll, Northern Michigan in both.

- Saves for Days: Lake Superior State goaltender Nick Kossoff turned in a performance for the ages last Friday, almost single-handedly lifting the Lakers to their 3-3 tie at No. 1 Denver. The junior made 63 saves, the 10th-highest single-game total in WCHA history. His night included 17 stops in the first period, 18 in the second, 26 in the third and two more in overtime.

- Power Up: WCHA teams own five of the top-20 power play units in Division I hockey. Lake Superior State's 35-pct. mark (7-for-20) is tied for second nationally, while the No. 9-11 spots belong to Minnesota State (30.4 pct., 7-for-23), Michigan Tech (29.7 pct., 11-for-37) and Alabama Huntsville (29.4 pct., 5-for-17), respectively. Bemidji State is tied for 16th at 25.0 pct. (4-for-16).


By the Numbers

- 2: D-I coaching victories for Lance West, who earned his first wins as Alaska bench boss with a sweep of UAA last weekend.

- 6: Goals scored by Northern Michigan senior Robbie Payne, tied for most in the NCAA.

- 14: Straight penalties that Bemidji State has killed to start the season, the best mark in the NCAA. The Beavers finished second nationally last year at .880 (139-for-158), including a WCHA-best .916 mark (98-for-107) in league play.

- 74: NCAA-high saves last weekend for UAH senior goaltender Jordan Uhleski, including 41 in the Chargers' first-ever victory over Michigan Tech (UAH had been 0-13-2 prior to a 4-2 win last Saturday in Houghton, Mich.).

- 99: Consecutive games played by Minnesota State senior forward Brad McClure, who is the team's active leader with 124 career appearances.


The Week Ahead

- Top-20 Matchup: Two of the WCHA's top programs meet in Mankato, as No. 12/14 Minnesota State hosts No. 16 Michigan Tech. Since the 2013-14 season began, the Mavericks are fifth nationally with 101 wins and the Huskies are 10th with 93.

- Elsewhere in the WCHA: Bemidji State and Ferris State, who have seen OT in four of their last 10 meetings, hook up in Bemidji. Coming off an Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup sweep, Alaska visits Bowling Green in the Nanooks' WCHA opener.

- Nonconference: Two WCHA teams hit the road for nonconference play, with Alabama Huntsville visiting Cornell (ECAC) and Lake Superior State heading to East Lansing to face in-state rival Michigan State (Big Ten).


The Week in Review

- In a matchup of MacNaughton Cup hopefuls, No. 14/12 Minnesota State and Bowling Green traded impressive offensive performances in a WCHA-opening split.

- No. 15 Michigan Tech rallied late for a 5-4 victory in the series opener, but Alabama Huntsville held on for a 4-2 triumph Saturday -- the Chargers' first-ever over the Huskies.

- Alaska landed the opening salvo in the Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup, sweeping a nonconference, home-and-home series with Alaska Anchorage.

- Nothing was settled in the Serratore series, as each brother came away with a win in a nonconference split between host Bemidji State and No. 20 Air Force.

- Ferris State rode the clutch scoring of Dominic Lutz to a 3-2 victory Friday, settling for the split in a nonconference road series at Mercyhurst.

- Thanks to an historic effort from goaltender Nick Kossoff and some timely scoring, Lake Superior State earned a 3-3 tie in the nonconference series opener at No. 1 Denver, before falling in Saturday's finale.

- Northern Michigan continued its impressive start, outlasting No. 6/5 Wisconsin, 5-4 in overtime Friday to earn a nonconference series split at the Resch Center in Green Bay.

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


No. 14/12 Minnesota State 4, at Bowling Green 1
at Bowling Green 5, No. 14/12 Minnesota State 2
(Oct. 20 and 21 at Slater Family Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio)

In a matchup of MacNaughton Cup hopefuls, No. 14/12 Minnesota State and Bowling Green traded impressive offensive performances in a WCHA-opening split.

Four different Mavericks scored in a 4-1 victory for the visitors Friday night. Parker Tuomie opened the scoring 5:49 into the game, Zeb Knutson broke a 1-1 tie with the power-play game-winner in the second period, while freshman Connor Mackey (first collegiate goal) and C.J. Suess put the game away in the third. Connor LaCouvee picked up his second win in as many starts in the Minnesota State net, making 16 saves.

The Falcons flipped the script Saturday, jumping out to a 4-0 lead en route to a 5-2 win. Lukas Craggs scored two goals just 20 seconds apart in the first period, Connor Ford and freshman Max Johnson (first career goal) lit the lamp in the second, and Brett D'Andrea put the finishing touches on the contest with an empty-netter. Florida Panthers prospect Ryan Bednard stopped 26-of-28 shots for the win.


at No. 15 Michigan Tech 5, Alabama Huntsville 4
Alabama Huntsville 4, at No. 15 Michigan Tech 2
(Oct. 20 and 21 at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena; Houghton, Mich.)

No. 15 Michigan Tech rallied late for a 5-4 victory in the series opener, but Alabama Huntsville held on for a 4-2 triumph Saturday -- the Chargers' first-ever over the Huskies.

Jake Lucchini's second goal and third point of the contest was the tie-breaking, game-winning with 5:29 remaining Friday, extending Tech's unbeaten streak to five games. Tech forward Justin Misiak had tied the game at 4-4 at the 10:12 mark of the third period, thwarting an earlier Alabama Huntsville comeback. After falling behind 3-1 late in the second period, UAH scored three-straight goals, including a power-play marker by Tyler Poulsen, to surge ahead 7:31 into the final stanza.

Friday's win gave the Huskies an all-time 13-0-2 record against Alabama Huntsville, but the 15-game unbeaten run in the series came to an end Saturday. Senior goaltender Jordan Uhleski led the Chargers to a 4-2 triumph with 41 saves, the second-most of his career. After falling behind 1-0 early, the Chargers received first-period goals by Kurt Gosselin (on the power play) and Josh Kestner to take a 2-1 lead. John Teets scored a short-handed marker to give UAH a 3-1 lead midway through the second and, after Gavin Gould brought Tech back within one late in the third period, Hans Gorowsky sealed the outcome with an empty-net strike.


Alaska 6, at Alaska Anchorage 2
at Alaska 4, Alaska Anchorage 3
(Oct. 20 at Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Alaska and Oct. 21 at Carlson Center; Fairbanks, Alaska)

Alaska landed the opening salvo in the Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup, sweeping a nonconference, home-and-home series with Alaska Anchorage.

The visiting Nanooks scored three goals in the first period and three more in the third for a 6-2 victory in Friday's series opener. Justin Woods led the way for UAF with two goals and an assist, while freshman Steven Jandric scored his first collegiate goal en route to a career-best three-point night (1g-2a). Goaltender Anton Martinsson picked up his first collegiate win with a 22-save effort.

Saturday's contest, in Fairbanks, was a tighter affair, but UAF held on for a 3-2 victory. Austin Azurdia gave the Seawolves an early 1-0 lead, but UAF's Ross Heidt (first period), Zach Frye (second) and Colton Leiter (third) scored in succession. Freshman Jordan Xavier capped a two-goal weekend by bringing UAA within one, but Martinsson closed the door on a Nanooks win.


at Bemidji State 4, No. 20 Air Force 1
No. 20 Air Force 5, Bemidji State 1
(Oct. 20 and 21 at Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn.)

Nothing was settled in the Serratore series, as each brother came away with a win in a nonconference split between host Bemidji State and No. 20 Air Force.

BSU head coach Tom Serratore gained the upper hand Friday, as his Beavers scored four unanswered goals for a 4-1 victory. After Tom's son, Matt, scored to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead after the first period, BSU dominated the rest of the way. Kyle Bauman scored twice on special teams in the third period, a power-play goal at 2:36 that gave the Beavers a 2-1 lead, and a short-handed strike at 15:48 that sealed the outcome. Adam Brady and Myles Fitzgerald also scored, while Michael Bitzer made 18 saves.

Air Force and head coach Frank Serratore returned serve Saturday night with a 5-1 win. Jay Dickman scored the lone BSU goal, bringing the Beavers within one at 2-1 early in the second period, but the Falcons netted the game's final three goals to win going away.


Ferris State 3, at Mercyhurst 2
at Mercyhurst 4, Ferris state 1
(Oct. 20 and 21 at Erie Insurance Arena; Erie, Pa.)

Ferris State rode the clutch scoring of Dominic Lutz to a 3-2 victory Friday, settling for the split in a nonconference road series at Mercyhurst.

Lutz was the difference maker Friday, scoring a first-period goal to put the Bulldogs on top 2-1, then snapping a 2-2 tie with the game-winner 5:17 into the second period. Mitch Maloney continued his solid start with his third goal of the season, while Darren Smith improved to 2-1-0 with a 28-save effort in the Ferris State net.

Ferris State's hopes for a sweep were dashed in the third period Saturday, as Mercyhurst snapped a 1-1 tie with three power-play goals in the final 20 minutes to win, 4-1. Redshirt sophomore defenseman Zach Yoder, a transfer, scored his first goal in a Bulldog uniform, tying the game 1-1 at the 8:22 mark of the second period.


Lake Superior State 3, at No. 1 Denver 3 - OT
at No. 1 Denver 5, Lake Superior State 1
(Oct. 20 and 21 at Magness Arena; Denver, Colo.)

Thanks to an historic effort from goaltender Nick Kossoff and some timely scoring, Lake Superior State earned a 3-3 tie in the nonconference series opener at No. 1 Denver, before falling in Saturday's finale.

On a night the Pioneers raised their 2017 NCAA championship banner, it was the Lakers who nearly spoiled the party. Kossoff made 63 saves, the 10th-highest single-game total in WCHA history, backstopping LSSU to the 3-3 draw. The Lakers were outshot for the game by a 66-17 margin, but found the back of the net on three of those attempts. Brayden Gelsinger (first period) and Max Humitz (second) gave LSSU a 2-0 lead before Denver got on the board midway through the second stanza. With the game tied 2-2, the Lakers' Jake Hand capitalized on a DU turnover to give LSSU another lead with 5:34 remaining in regulation. Denver tied the game however, despite Kossoff's 26 third-period stops. He also made 17 saves in the first period, 18 in the second and two more in overtime.

Lake Superior State again struck first Saturday on a Josh Nenadal goal 9:04 into the contest, and were within one, at 2-1, heading into the third period. However, the Pioneers outshot the visitors 21-2 over the final 20 minutes, scoring three times for a 5-1 victory. Freshman goaltender Mareks Mitens made 49 saves in an impressive effort for the Lakers.


Northern Michigan 5, vs. No. 6/5 Wisconsin 4 - OT
No. 6/5 Wisconsin 4, vs. Northern Michigan 0
(Oct. 20 and 21 at Resch Center; Green Bay, Wis.)

Northern Michigan continued its impressive start, outlasting No. 6/5 Wisconsin, 5-4 in overtime Friday to earn a nonconference series split at the Resch Center in Green Bay.

Denver Pierce played the hero Friday night, scoring with 17.1 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Wildcats a thrilling, 5-4 victory. The goal was Pierce's second of the contest, as his short-handed tally in the second period gave NMU a 3-1 lead. In fact, goals from Robbie Payne (his NCAA-best sixth of the year), Darien Craighead, Pierce and Philip Beaulieu (who also had two assists) gave the Wildcats a 4-2 lead entering the third period. Wisconsin rallied to force the extra session, setting up Pierce's dramatic game-winner (set up by Troy Loggins and Beaulieu).

The Wildcats were stymied Saturday night by Wisconsin's defense and the work of goaltender Jack Berry, as the Badgers forced the series split with a 4-0 shutout victory.