WCHA Weekend Preview: Dec. 11 - 12, 2015
News and notes for the upcoming weekend of WCHA hockey
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The weekly WCHA tradition of a series between nationally ranked teams moves to Grand Forks, N.D., where the No. 9 Fighting Hawks host the top-ranked and undefeated Badgers.

Opening Face-Off

- Badgers, WCHA Leading at the Polls: The WCHA continues to set this season's NCAA standard in the national polls, matching ECAC Hockey with four teams in both the USCHO.com and USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings. Wisconsin is the top-ranked team in both polls, followed by No. 3 Minnesota, No. 5 Bemidji State and No. 9 North Dakota.

- Winning Hockey: Not surprisingly, five of the NCAA's top-15 winning percentages also belong to WCHA teams. At 18-0-0, Wisconsin is one of just two remaining unbeaten and untied teams (along with 19-0-0 Boston College). Minnesota (15-3-0, .833) is fourth, while Bemidji State (13-5-2, .700) is seventh, North Dakota (10-6-2, .611) is tied for 12th and St. Cloud State (8-8-2, .500) is tied for 15th.

- An Early Look at the PairWise: Entering the final weekend of games across women's college hockey for the 2015 calendar year, the WCHA has three teams in the top eight of the PairWise rankings: No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 3 Minnesota and No. 6 (tied) Bemidji State. Additionally, North Dakota is tied for 10th, Minnesota Duluth is tied for 13th and St. Cloud State is tied for 17th.

- Badgers Continue Historic Start: Wisconsin's 18-0-0 start is the best in program history, while the 18-game winning streak is the second-longest streak in school history and the fourth-longest in WCHA annals. It is also UW's longest streak to occur in a single season, while a win Friday at North Dakota would match the Badgers' all-time record of 19-straight victories (Feb. 11 - Oct. 21, 2006).

- 21 and Counting: Wisconsin sophomore forward Annie Pankowski is on a 21-game point streak dating back to the 2015 Final Face-Off championship game, totaling 36 points (17g-19a) during a run that is now the fifth-longest in UW history and sixth-longest in WCHA annals.

- Playmakers: Twelve of the NCAA's top 26 individual point producers play in the WCHA: UMN's Dani Cameranesi (3rd at 2.17 points per game), Sarah Potomak (4th at 2.12 - tops among freshmen), Hannah Brandt (5th at 2.11), Kelly Pannek (t-10th at 1.50) and Cara Piazza (t-19th at 1.22); UW's Annie Pankowski (7th at 1.78), Sarah Nurse (12th at 1.43), Emily Clark (15th at 1.31), and Courtney Burke and Jenny Ryan (t-22nd at 1.17 - tops among defensemen); SCSU's Molly Illikainen (13th at 1.38); and UND's Amy Menke (14th at 1.33).

- Brandt Watch: One of the all-time great players in WCHA history, Minnesota senior forward Hannah Brandt continues to move up the league and NCAA record books. Entering this weekend, she ranks sixth in WCHA history (since 1999-2000) with 109 career goals (Monique Lamoureux, who scored 113 with UMN and UND, is fifth), third with 150 assists (M. Lamoureux is second with 152) and fourth with 259 points (UW's Hilary Knight is fourth with 262). In NCAA Division I history (since 2000-01), Brandt is ninth for goals (M. Lamoureux and Dartmouth's Katie Weatherston are tied for eighth), fourth for assists (M. Lamoureux is third) and fifth for points (Knight is fourth).


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

WCHA

No. 1 Wisconsin (12-0-0-0, 36 pts. / 18-0-0) at No. 9 North Dakota (7-5-2-1, 24 pts. / 10-6-2)
Ralph Engelstad Arena; Grand Forks, N.D.
Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:07 p.m. CT and Saturday, Dec. 12 at 4:07 p.m. CT

- The weekly WCHA tradition of a series between nationally ranked teams moves to Grand Forks, N.D., where the No. 9 Fighting Hawks host the top-ranked and undefeated Badgers.

- Wisconsin is coming off its first sweep of Minnesota (ranked No. 3) since the 2009-10 season, while North Dakota split a home-and-home with No. 5 Bemidji State.

- A Badgers' win in the Friday series opener would give UW its 19th-straight win, matching the program record set between Feb. 11 and Oct. 21, 2006 (spanning parts of two seasons).

- Wisconsin's defense has been outstanding this year, holding opponents to 0.50 goals per game. UW has shutout its opponent in 11 of the first 18 games, while junior G Ann-Renée Desbiens leads the nation with nine shutouts, a .967 save percentage and 0.53 goals-against average.

- UW senior defenseman Courtney Burke is six points shy of 100 for her career, while she is tied with teammate Jenny Ryan for the national lead amongst blue liners with 1.17 points per game.

- The Fighting Hawks' top forward line of Amy Menke, Meghan Dufault and Becca Kohler has accounted for 53-percent of UND's offense this season. The trio has tallied a total of 26 goals and 32 assists this year for 56 points.

- Menke, who has cracked UND's all-time top-10 scoring list, is tied for 14th nationally by averaging 1.33 points per game this season.

- Wisconsin leads the all-time series, 43-6-3, including a 4-0-1 mark last season.


Minnesota Duluth (4-7-1-0, 13 pts. / 7-10-1) at Ohio State (3-9-0-0, 9 pts. / 6-10-0)
OSU Ice Rink; Columbus, Ohio
Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:07 p.m. ET and Saturday, Dec. 12 at 4:07 p.m. ET

- For the first time as head coach, OSU bench boss Jenny Potter faces off against her alma mater when the Buckeyes welcome the Bulldogs to Columbus. A two-time All-American and still the program's all-time leading scorer, Potter totaled 256 points (108g-146a) in a UMD uniform during the 1999-2000, 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, while helping the Bulldogs to the 2003 national championship.

- Ohio State was idle last weekend, while Minnesota Duluth went 1-0-1 against St. Cloud State.

- UMD junior F Ashleigh Brykaliuk is on a four-game point streak (3g-2a—5pts), while senior F Michela Cava has three goals in her last four contests.

- Bulldogs' senior G Kayla Black returned to the cage last weekend, posting her 20th career shutout with a 20-save effort in a 4-0 win Dec. 5.

- OSU's leading scorer, senior F Kendall Curtis, is tied for ninth in the WCHA with nine goals. She ranks eighth with a .209 shooting percentage.

- UMD leads the all-time series, 60-14-3. The Bulldogs went 3-0-1 in 2014-15.


NONCONFERENCE

St. Cloud State (4-8-2-2, 16 pts. / 8-8-2) vs. No. 3 Minnesota (11-3-0-0, 33 pts. / 15-3-0)
U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum Women's Face-Off Classic
Roseville Skating Center; Roseville, MN
Friday, December 11 at 6:30 p.m. CT

- The No. 3 Gophers and Huskies meet for the second-straight year in the U.S Hockey Hall of Fame Museum Women's Face-off Classic; this time, at the Roseville Skating Center in Roseville, Minn. The game will count on both teams' overall records, but not in the WCHA standings.

- Minnesota won last year's Classic, held at the Braemar Arena in Edina, Minn., by a 5-0 score as then-freshman Kelly Pannek recorded a hat trick.

- SCSU is 6-1-1 in its last eight contests, including a seven-game unbeaten streak that was snapped last Saturday at Minnesota Duluth.

- In eight games since Nov. 1, Huskies' senior F Molly Illikainen has 14 points (8g-6a) and freshman F Julia Tylke has 11 (5g-6a). Over that same stretch, senior G Katie Fitzgerald has a .941 save percentage and 1.62 goals-against average.

- Minnesota owns the nation's best power-play unit, converting on 45.3 percent of its chances (24-of-53). Junior F Dani Cameranesi has an NCAA-best eight power-play goals.

- Gophers' freshman F Sarah Potomak leads the nation's rookies with 2.12 points per game and is tops among all NCAA players with 1.62 assists per game.

- Minnesota is 69-3-2 all-time against St. Cloud State and has won the last 27 meetings, including a sweep at Ridder Arena on Oct. 9 and 10 of this season.