WCHA Weekend Preview: Oct. 9-11, 2015
News and notes for the upcoming weekend of WCHA hockey
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Top-ranked Minnesota will raise its 2015 National Championship banner prior to its home opener

Opening Face-Off

- 17-3-2: The eight teams of the women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) have jumped out to a quick start to the 2015-16 campaign, posting an NCAA-best 17-3-2 (.818) mark over 22 nonconference games.

- Leading at the Polls: The WCHA has an NCAA-best four teams in both the USCHO.com (tied with ECAC Hockey) and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls. Minnesota remains the unanimous No. 1 in both rankings, followed by No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 6 North Dakota and No. 9 Bemidji State. Minnesota Duluth is receiving votes in both polls, while St. Cloud State also received votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine ledger.

- Lighting the Lamp: While still very early, WCHA teams have displayed some explosive offenses. Six schools are ranked in the top 10 nationally by averaging 3.0 goals per game or more, paced by NCAA leaders Wisconsin (6.50) and St. Cloud State (6.0).

- Comeback Kids: Four WCHA teams combined for five comeback wins last weekend. St. Cloud State rallied twice, erasing a two-goal, third-period deficit Friday and an early 1-0 hole Saturday. North Dakota also bounced back from a 2-0 hole Friday, while Wisconsin and Ohio State rolled to wins after surrendering the first goal.

- Turn on the TV: No. 3 Wisconsin and Ohio State, a pair of teams that swept season-opening series last weekend, will be showcased on BTN as the network airs a live broadcast of Sunday's tilt from LaBahn Arena.

- Impressive Debuts: WCHA freshmen have combined to produce 13 goals and 17 assists on the young season, led by three points each from Ohio State forward Maddy Field (2g, 1a) and Minnesota forward Sarah Potomak (1g, 2a). St. Cloud State rookie goaltender Taylor Crosby earned the win in her debut Saturday, stopping 21-of-23 shots.

- Red, White and Blue (with Bemidji State green) in Sweden: Twelve (12) current and former WCHA student-athletes were named to the 23-player USA Hockey roster for the upcoming Four Nations Cup, to be held Nov. 4-8 in Sweden. Bemidji State senior forward Stephanie Anderson, a gold medalist with Team USA at the 2015 Worlds, is the lone active player on the roster.


The Week Ahead

- First WCHA Weekend: Following two weekends of nonconference play, the race for the WCHA regular season championship begins with four league series. Minnesota State opens the women's hockey era at the Verizon Wireless Center by welcoming No. 6 North Dakota, No. 9 Bemidji State hosts Minnesota Duluth (who will travel for the third straight weekend to open the season - a first in program history), St. Cloud State visits top-ranked Minnesota and Ohio State travels to No. 3 Wisconsin.


All rankings listed by USCHO.com poll first, followed by USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine poll

WCHA

St. Cloud State (0-0-0-0, 0 pts. WCHA / 2-0-0) at No. 1 Minnesota (0-0-0-0, 0 pts. WCHA / 2-0-0)
Ridder Arena; Minneapolis, Minn.
Friday, Oct. 9 at 7:07 p.m. CT and Saturday, Oct. 10 at 4:07 p.m. CT

- Top-ranked Minnesota will raise its 2015 National Championship banner prior to its home opener, a WCHA-opening series against St. Cloud State.

- Both the Gophers and Huskies opened the campaign with nonconference road sweeps last weekend, with Minnesota blanking Penn State in both contests and SCSU dropping six goals twice on Merrimack.

- SCSU's opening-weekend performance, which included a pair of comebacks, garnered them a vote in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.

- Gophers' senior F Hannah Brandt is the NCAA's active scoring leader with 223 career points (92 goals, 131 assists). UMN junior D Milica McMillen is closing in on the 100-point mark, entering the weekend with 93 career points (36g-57a).

- SCSU senior D Lexi Slattery earned WCHA Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors after a five-point opening weekend (3g-2a).

- Minnesota owns a 67-3-2 all-time series advantage, including a current 25-game winning streak.


Ohio State (0-0-0-0, 0 pts. WCHA / 2-0-0) at No. 3 Wisconsin (0-0-0-0, 0 pts. WCHA / 2-0-0)
LaBahn Arena; Madison, Wis.
Saturday, Oct. 10 and Sunday, Oct. 11 (2:07 p.m. CT both days)

- No. 3 Wisconsin hosts Ohio State in the Badgers' home opener. Sunday's game will be broadcast live on BTN.

- The Badgers are coming off a sweep of Providence that was played in San Jose, Calif., while the Buckeyes opened the Jenny Potter era with a pair of wins at Lindenwood.

- UW's Annie Pankowski, the 2015 National Rookie of the Year, earned WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors after starting her sophomore campaign with four goals and an assist. Pankowski has now tallied 16 goals in her last 17 games, and has a five-game point streak.

- OSU senior F Kendall Curtis scored three of the Buckeyes' eight goals last weekend, while freshman F Maddy Field was named WCHA Rookie of the Week after a three-point performance (2g-1a).

- UW is 43-10-3 (.802) at LaBahn Arena, including a perfect 6-0 mark against Ohio State. The Badgers lead the all-time series, 56-10-6.


No. 6 North Dakota (0-0-0-0, 0 pts. WCHA / 2-0-0) at Minnesota State (0-0-0-0, 0 pts. WCHA / 2-1-1)
Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn.
Friday, Oct. 10 and Saturday, Oct. 11 (2:07 p.m. CT both days)

- Minnesota State moves into its new home at the renovated Verizon Wireless Center and welcomes No. 6 North Dakota to downtown Mankato.

- The Mavericks return home after a road split at RIT gave them their second win of the year in just their fourth game. MSU did not win their second game last season until Jan. 9 (in its 19th game).

- Both senior F Katie Johnson and sophomore F Hannah Davidson have registered a point in all four games for the Mavericks, with identical 1g-5aŚ6pts lines.

- UND senior D Sam LaShomb was named WCHA Co-Defensive Player of the Week after sparking a dramatic road win in last Friday's season opener (2g-1aŚ3pts overall).

- Five of UND's defensemen registered points last weekend. Junior Gracen Hirschy, who handed out an assist at RPI, is just two points shy of becoming the second-leading defensive scorer in program history (39 career points).


Minnesota Duluth (0-0-0-0, 0 pts. WCHA / 2-2-0) at No. 9 Bemidji State (0-0-0-0, 0 pts. WCHA / 3-0-1)
Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn.
Friday, Oct. 9 at 7:07 p.m. CT and Saturday, Oct. 10 at 2:07 p.m. CT

- No. 9 Bemidji State hosts Minnesota Duluth in the programs' first meeting since last year's WCHA quarterfinals, won by the Beavers with an OT goal in the deciding third game in Duluth.

- For the first time in program history, UMD will play its third consecutive series on the road to open the season (six games total).

- Bulldogs' junior F Lara Stalder has scored four goals thus far, lighting the lamp in three of the Bulldogs' four games. UMD senior G Kayla Black played in her 105th college game last weekend, establishing an all-time school record.

- BSU senior F Hannah Moher is on a three-game point streak (2g-4aŚ6pts).

- Junior G Brittni Mowat backstopped the Beavers to a road sweep at Vermont last weekend, posting her 11th career shutout and stopping 41-of-42 shots overall.

- UMD leads the all-time series 62-8-2, but BSU won four of seven meetings last year (including postseason).