WCHA Week 4: No. 6 North Dakota Meets No. 8 Bemidji State In Top Ten Clash; Conference Has NCAA-Best Four Ranked Teams
photo
No. 6 North Dakota and No. 8 Bemidji State meet this weekend in a home-and-home series

Opening Face-Off

- Moving Up and Leading at the Polls: The WCHA has an NCAA-best four teams (tied with ECAC Hockey) in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls. Minnesota remains the unanimous No. 1 in both rankings, followed by No. 2 Wisconsin (up a spot this week), No. 6 North Dakota and No. 8 Bemidji State (also up one spot). Minnesota Duluth received a vote in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine ledger.

- Fast Start in Bemidji...: A year after posting the best record in program history and advancing to the Final Face-Off championship game for the first time, eighth-ranked Bemidji State is off to the best start in school annals at 5-0-1. The Beavers boast the nation's fourth-ranked scoring defense, while showing a knack for clutch scoring.

- ...And in Grand Forks...: With a 4-0-0 start to the season, North Dakota has posted its best opening four-game mark in program history. Previously, UND started the 2013-14 season with a 3-0-1 mark and improved to 4-0-1 before suffering its first loss of the season.

- ...And in Madison...: This year marks the first time in program history Wisconsin has scored five or more goals in each of its first four contests, while the Badgers lead the country with 7.00 goals per game (28 goals in four contests).

- Lighting the Lamp: Speaking of prolific offenses, four of the league's teams are in the top 10 nationally by averaging at least 3.00 goals per contest. On an individual level, 12 of the country's top-28 point producers play in the WCHA (UW's Annie Pankowski leads the way and is second nationally with 2.75 points per game).

- No Goals Allowed: On the other side of the ice, Minnesota has yet to allow a goal this season, with goaltenders Amanda Leveille (two) and Sidney Peters (two), along with their blue liners, combining to post four consecutive shutouts - tied for the third-longest run in WCHA history (eighth occurrence). A pair of Wisconsin teams had five-game runs, while the Gophers' 2012-13 squad set the league record with six-straight blankings.

- Stingy "D": The Gophers lead five WCHA teams in the top-10 nationally for scoring defense, a list that also features Wisconsin (second at 0.50 goals allowed per game), Bemidji State (fourth at 1.17), North Dakota (seventh at 1.75) and Minnesota State (tied for eighth at 2.00). Eight of the nation's top 15 goaltenders by GAA (and seven of 15 by save percentage) are WCHA netminders.

- Seven current or former WCHA student-athletes will compete for Canada's National Women's Team at the upcoming Four Nations Cup, held Nov. 4-8 in Sweden. Forwards Emily Clark (Wisconsin) and Sarah Nurse (Wisconsin) and Sarah Potomak (Minnesota), along with defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak (North Dakota) will take a break from the 2015-16 WCHA season to compete for their home country. Clark and Krzyzaniak were members of Canada's silver medal team at the 2015 IIHF Women's World Championship, while Nurse and Potomak will be making their national team debuts.


By the Numbers

- 7: NCAA-leading assist total for MSU's Hannah Davidson and UND's Amy Menke (in two fewer games).

- 8: Second-period goals for Minnesota (on 10 shots), an NCAA single-period record, during an 11-0 victory Saturday.

- 244:54: Minnesota's active scoreless streak, dating back to the 2015 national championship game.


The Week Ahead

- Top Ten Clash: Two teams off to red-hot, undefeated starts - No. 6 North Dakota (4-0-0) and No. 8 Bemidji State (5-0-1) - meet this weekend in a home-and-home series alongside the schools' men's teams. Friday afternoon's series opener will be at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, while Saturday's finale switches to Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.

- Welcome Home: After establishing a program record with six straight road games to open the season, Minnesota Duluth finally returns home to host Minnesota State at AMSOIL Arena.

- More Home Openers: Jenny Potter will coach her first games at the OSU Ice Rink this weekend, as the Buckeyes host No. 1 Minnesota. While the Huskies played a home exhibition contest, St. Cloud State will play its first regular season home games this weekend against No. 3 Wisconsin.


The Week in Review

- Top-ranked Minnesota ran their season-opening shutout streak to four straight games during a sweep of visiting St. Cloud State. On Friday, the Gophers raised their sixth national championship banner in Ridder Arena.

- No. 3 Wisconsin continued its early season offensive outburst, scoring 15 goals during with a sweep of visiting Ohio State.

- No. 6 North Dakota won a pair of close road games at Minnesota State, spoiling the Mavericks' first games in their new home, the Verizon Wireless Center

- No. 9 Bemidji State rode clutch scoring and the stellar play of goaltender Brittni Mowat to a sweep of visiting Minnesota Duluth.

- Full recaps and box scores are available at wcha.com.


at No. 1 Minnesota 7, St. Cloud State 0
at No. 1 Minnesota 11, St. Cloud State 0
(October 9 and 10 at Ridder Arena; Minneapolis, MN)

The top-ranked Golden Gophers have still not surrendered a goal this season with both goalies, Amanda Leveille and Sidney Peters, registering shutouts during a home-opening sweep of the Huskies.

On Friday evening, Minnesota raised the 2015 national championship banner and then celebrated with a 7-0 victory. Nine Gophers recorded points, including three each from Kelly Pannek (2g-1a), Milica McMillen (1g-2a) and Kate Schipper (3a). Dani Cameranesi helped with the scoring as she tallied two goals. Between the posts, Amanda Leveille recorded her 24th career shutout as the Gophers outshot the Huskies 38-5.

Saturday, the Gophers set an NCAA record with eight goals (on 10 shots) in the second period en route to an 11-0 win. Freshman Sarah Potomak led the Gophers with two goals and three helpers. Hannah Brandt and Sydney Baldwin each had four points on the night, with Brandt finding the back of the net four times (highest single-game output by a WCHA player since the 2012-13 season) and Baldwin dishing out four assists. Minnesota set a new single-game program record for shooting percentage, scoring 11 goals on 24 shots for a .458 percentage.


at No. 3 Wisconsin 7, Ohio State 0
at No. 3 Wisconsin 8, Ohio State 0
(October 10 and 11 at LaBahn Arena; Madison, WI)

No. 3 Wisconsin scored a total of 15 goals on the weekend, leading to a sweep of visiting Ohio State during the Badgers' home opener at LaBahn Arena.

Sophomore Emily Clark had a huge weekend for the Badgers as she recorded four points (2g-2a) in Saturday's game and added 3 more points (2g-1a) in Sunday's game en route to WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors. Annie Pankowski also had a big weekend for the Badgers, tallying six points (3g-3a) and notching her third short-handed goal of the season (during Saturday's game). Sydney McKibbon also scored in both games for UW.

Badgers netminder, Ann-Renée Desbiens won both games, stopping all 29 shots faced in a pair of shutouts. Desbiens now has 41 career wins and 19 collegiate shutouts - third-most in school history.


No. 6 North Dakota 2, at Minnesota State 1
No. 6 North Dakota 4, at Minnesota State 2
(October 9 and 10 at Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, MN)

Playing in their new home - the Verizon Wireless Center - for the first time this season, the Mavericks went toe-to-toe with No. 6 North Dakota despite suffering a sweep.

UND freshman Vilma Tanskanen opened the scoring Friday with a second-period goal, followed later in the period by Layla Marvin. Minnesota State's Elin Johansson got the Mavericks within one, but UND goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie shut the door in a 2-1 win.

Johansson added a second goal on the weekend and fourth of the season as she started the scoring 3:45 into the first period of the second game. Freshman Leila Kilduff scored her first career goal to draw MSU even, 2-2, in the third period, before UND's Meghan Dufault scored the game-winner and Becca Kohler added an empty-netter.

Mavericks' goaltender Brianna Quade made 39 saves Saturday and 68 for the weekend. UND's Lexie Shaw turned back 15 shots in a winning effort in the series finale.


at No. 9 Bemidji State 2, Minnesota Duluth 0
at No. 9 Bemidji State 2, Minnesota Duluth 1 - OT
(October 9 and 10 at Sanford Center; Bemidji, MN)

Bemidji State swept Minnesota Duluth behind clutch scoring and the stellar goaltending of Brittni Mowat, who stopped 62-of-63 shots for a .984 save percentage.

BSU, which scored first in each of its first five games, did so again Friday as Reilly Fawcett netted her first career goal at the 7:26 mark of the first period. Stephanie Anderson also scored in the first period, then Mowat did the rest with a 31-save shutout - her second straight blanking and 12th of her career.

The Beavers did not score first in the final game of the series, as Demi Crossman scored a short-handed tally for the Bulldogs late in the first period. Bemidji State would answer back in the second period, with Kristin Huber scoring her third goal of the season for a 1-1 deadlock that would remain until overtime. The extra hockey would see a combined four shots, including the game-winner from BSU forward Lauren Miller. Mowat finished with 31 saves, including turning aside all 24 shots she faced from the second period on.