January 31, 2012
Wisconsin topped BSU in front of an NCAA record 12,402 fans on Saturday
MADISON, Wis. Last weekend the focus was on the top two teams in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association as top-ranked Wisconsin took two one-goal victories over Bemidji State, clinched a home playoff spot and set a women's college hockey attendance record when 12,402 fans watched the Badgers score a thrilling 1-0 victory on Jan. 28. Second place Minnesota, meanwhile, earned two road victories at Minnesota State to stay on the Badgers' heels both in the league standings and the national poll.
This weekend, with just six games left in the regular season for each of the league's eight-member clubs, the focus is on Duluth, where No. 9-ranked Minnesota Duluth (14-11-1, 11-10-1-1 WCHA) and Ohio State (14-10-4, 11-10-1-1 WCHA), teams tied for fourth place and the last first round home playoff spot, go head-to-head Feb. 3-4 in a crucial series. Face-offs at AMSOIL Arena (6,726) are at 7:07 pm CT both Friday and Saturday evenings. In their first head-to-head meetings this season, the Bulldogs and Buckeyes split at the OSU Ice Rink, with Ohio State winning 4-1 on Nov. 25 and UMD coming back to capture a 6-2 triumph on Nov. 26.
In Grand Forks, No. 6-ranked North Dakota (16-9-2, 12-8-2-1 WCHA) will entertain Bemidji State (14-12-3, 8-12-2 WCHA) at Ralph Engelstad Arena (11,634) on Friday and Saturday in a pair of 7:07 pm CT puck-drops. UND and the Beavers are tied at 1-1 this season after a series split on Nov. 25-26, with North Dakota prevailing 5-2 in game one at Crookston, Minn., and Bemidji State battling back for a 3-2 victory at Sanford Center on Nov. 26.
At the National Hockey Center (5,371) this weekend, St. Cloud State (5-21-2, 4-18-0 WCHA) will go up against No. 2-ranked Minnesota (22-4-2, 16-4-2-1 WCHA) on Friday night at 7:07 pm CT and Saturday afternoon at 2:07 pm CT. The Huskies and Golden Gophers last met on the opening league weekend of Oct. 7-8 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, with Minnesota taking both games by 6-0 and 8-0 counts.
And at the Kohl Center (15,325) in Madison, No. 1-ranked Wisconsin (24-2-2, 18-2-2-1 WCHA) will hook-up with Minnesota State (7-21-0, 3-19-0 WCHA) in a two-game matinee set on Friday at 2:07 pm CT and Sunday at 2:07 pm CT. The Badgers swept the host Mavericks on Dec. 2-3 at All Seasons Arena by 4-0 and 5-1 scores.
A look at this week's WCHA standings show Wisconsin (18-2-2-1 WCHA) at the top with 57 points, six more than second place Minnesota (16-4-2-1 WCHA) with 51. North Dakota (12-8-2-1 WCHA) is in third place with 39 points, four better than Minnesota Duluth (11-10-1-1 WCHA) and Ohio State (11-10-1-1 WCHA), who sport identical conference slates and 35 points apiece. Bemidji State (8-12-2-0 WCHA) stands in sixth place with 26 points, St. Cloud State (4-18-0-0 WCHA) is in seventh with 12 points and Minnesota State (3-19-0-0 WCHA) is eighth with six points.
After the conclusion of the regular season on Feb. 18, the first round of WCHA Playoffs a best-of-three format will be contested the following weekend of Friday, Feb. 24 through Sunday, Feb. 26. All eight teams will participate in the playoffs, with the No. 1 seed hosting the No. 8 seed, No. 2 hosting No. 7, No. 3 hosting No. 6 and No. 4 hosting No. 5.
The four first round winners will then advance to the league playoff championship the WCHA FINAL FACE-OFF which will be contested Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3 at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth. There will be two semi-finals played on Friday at 4:37 pm CT and 7:37 pm CT while the championship contest will face-off at 7:07 pm CT on Saturday.
Following the league tournament, the NCAA Regionals will be played the weekend of March 9-11 with the 2012 NCAA Women's Frozen Four to be held March 16 & 18 at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth.
In WCHA action last weekend Jan. 27-28 Wisconsin, Minnesota and Minnesota all posted two-game sweeps while one other ended in a split.
In Madison, host Wisconsin used an overtime goal by right winger Madison Packer to edge Bemidji State 3-2 last Friday. On Saturday, center Hilary Knight scored her first goal since Dec. 10 with 7:38 left in regulation to give the Badgers a 1-0 victory over the Beavers as a record crowd of 12,402 on "Fill the Bowl" night at the Kohl Center roared. Wisconsin goaltender Alex Rigby made 28 saves in her sixth and the team's eighth shutout of the season while Zuzana Tomcikova made 32 saves between the pipes for BSU. Wisconsin is the only team to sweep the season series from the Beavers. The previous record for most fans to watch a women's college hockey game was 10,668, set at the Kohl Center on Jan. 29, 2011.
On Jan. 27-28 at Mankato, visiting Minnesota swept Minnesota State. Senior left winger Emily West achieved her first collegiate hat trick with three goals in last Friday's 6-3 win over the host Mavericks while four different UM players, including West, had goals and centers Sarah Davis and Jen Schoullis each handed out two assists in last Saturday's 4-1 triumph.
In Columbus last weekend, host Ohio State and North Dakota split a vital series at the OSU Ice Rink. Buckeyes' center Natalie Spooner had two power-play goals and led her team to a 6-2 victory last Friday, but North Dakota stormed back and held onto third place with a 5-2 victory on Saturday as freshman center Josefine Jacobsen had a goal and two assists and wingers Alyssa Wiebe and Jocelyne Lamoureux each contributed a goal and an assist. Right winger Paige Semenza led all Buckeyes with four points on the weekend, scoring two goals and dishing out two assists. Center Laura McIntosh had three assists in the OSU victory on Jan. 27 and moved into a tie for first on the Buckeyes' all-time career points list. She has 160 career points and is tied with Jana Harrigan (2003-06).
And at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud on Jan. 27-28, visiting Minnesota Duluth completed a four-game regular season sweep of the Huskies with 5-0 and 2-1 triumphs. Left winger Audrey Cournoyer led UMD last Friday with a three-goal hat trick and an assist for four points. Senior center Haley Irwin also figured in four of the Bulldogs' five goals with a goal and three assists of her own as all five tallies came from UMD's top-line of Irwin, Cournoyer and rookie Jenna McParland, who had the Bulldogs' second goal on the night. Senior goaltender Jennifer Harss made 21 saves to earn her 10th career shutout. Senior goaltender Lana Steck got her first start of the season last Saturday in UMD's one-goal victory in the series finale. Center Vanessa Thibault notched the game-winner at 14:01 of the second period.
Looking ahead to the weekend of Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10-11, there will again be four WCHA series contested as Bemidji State hosts Minnesota Duluth, Wisconsin travels to St. Cloud State, Ohio State welcomes Minnesota, and North Dakota heads to Minnesota State.
The final weekend of the 2011-12 regular season, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 17-18, will again have a full complement of four league series on the docket as Minnesota hosts North Dakota, Ohio State visits Wisconsin, Minnesota Duluth hosts Minnesota State, and Bemidji State plays at St. Cloud State.
With the non-conference portion of the 2011-12 schedule complete, WCHA-member teams finished the regular season with a 33-7-6 record and .778 winning percentage against opponents from other Division 1 conferences. WCHA teams went 6-0-2 (.875) vs ECAC Hockey, 13-2-1 (.844) vs. the Hockey East Association, 8-5-3 (.594) vs. College Hockey America, and 6-0-0 vs. Independents.
The overall strength of the Western Colleigate Hockey Association isagain reflected in this week's (Jan. 31) USCHO.com Div. 1 Women's College Hockey Poll which shows four league teams ranked in the top ten in the country, including the top two Wisconsin at No. 1 and Minnesota up to No. 2. North Dakota is ranked No. 6 nationally and Minnesota Duluth is No. 9, while Bemidji State also collected votes.
In the latest USA Hockey/USA Hockey Magazine Women's Div. 1 College Hockey Poll for Jan. 31, Wisconsin is No. 1, Minnesota is No. 2, North Dakota is No. 6 and Minnesota Duluth is No. 9. Also receiving votes again was Bemidji State.
Individually of note in the WCHA, the forward line which led the U.S to the 2011 World Championships North Dakota's Jocelyne Lamoureux (27-38=65), Wisconsin's Brianna Decker (28-33=61) and UND's Monique Lamoureux-Kolls (22-37=59) are currently first, second and third in the nation in points, respectively. Minnesota's Meghan Bozek leads the WCHA and is tied for first in the country in points by a defenseman with 26 while her Gophers' teammate Noora Räty ranks first nationally in goals-against average at1.48. Wisconsin netminder Alex Rigsby is second in the nation with a .949 save percentage and has made 764 saves on the season, second best in the nation. Of goaltenders that have played more than 10 games this season, Rigsby also has the third best goals-against average in the nation at 1.49.
This Week in the WCHA
Games for Friday, February 3: Minnesota State at Wisconsin (WCHA), 2:07 pm CT; Bemidji State at North Dakota (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Minnesota at St. Cloud State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Ohio State at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT.
Games for Saturday, February 4: Minnesota at St. Cloud State (WCHA), 2:07 pm CT; Bemidji State at North Dakota (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Ohio State at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT.
Games for Sunday, February 5: Minnesota State at Wisconsin (WCHA), 2:07 pm CT.
Last Week in the WCHA
Results of Friday, January 27: North Dakota 2 at Ohio State 6 (WCHA); Bemidji State 2 at Wisconsin 3 ot (WCHA); Minnesota 6 at Minnesota State 3 (WCHA); Minnesota Duluth 5 at St. Cloud State 0 (WCHA).
Results of Saturday, January 28: Minnesota Duluth 2 at St. Cloud State 1 (WCHA); Minnesota 4 at Minnesota State 1 (WCHA); North Dakota 5 at Ohio State 2 (WCHA); Bemidji State 0 at Wisconsin 1 (WCHA).