WCHA Weekend Preview: Dec. 4 - 6, 2015
News and notes for the upcoming weekend of WCHA hockey
photo
Minnesota Duluth hosts a pair against St. Cloud State this weekend

Opening Face-Off

- Badgers, WCHA Leading at the Polls: The WCHA continues to have an NCAA-best presence in the national polls, with five of the league's eight teams ranked in the top ten. Wisconsin, which is off to the best start in program history, remains the nation's No. 1 for the fifth-straight week in both the USCHO.com and USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine polls. The Badgers are followed by No. 3 Minnesota, No. 6/5 Bemidji State, No. 9 North Dakota and No. 10 Minnesota Duluth.

- Winning Hockey: Not surprisingly, four of the NCAA's top-ten (and five of the top-15) winning percentages also belong to WCHA teams. At 16-0-0, Wisconsin is one of just two remaining unbeaten and untied teams (along with 17-0-0 Boston College). Minnesota (15-1-0, .938) is third, while Bemidji State (12-4-2, .722) is seventh, North Dakota (9-5-2, .625) is tied for tenth and St. Cloud State (8-7-1, .531) is tied for 15th.

- Badgers Continue Historic Start: The Badgers' 16-0-0 start is the best in program history, while the 16-game winning streak is the third-longest streak in school history and the fifth-longest in WCHA history. It is also UW's longest streak to occur in a single season.

- Husky Pride: Under the leadership of second-year head coach Eric Rud, St. Cloud State has put together a program-record six-game winning streak to finish November at a perfect 6-0-0. The run, which includes consecutive home sweeps of WCHA series, continued last weekend with a pair of road wins at Lindenwood. SCSU is edging closer to the program's longest-ever unbeaten streak, an eight-game run from Dec. 8, 2007 through Jan. 19, 2008 (6-0-2).

- Bulldog Strong: Despite a below .500 record, Minnesota Duluth remains ranked in the top ten due to its solid showing against one of the nation's toughest schedules. The Bulldogs have played the NCAA's strongest schedule to date according to the KRACH ratings, and are No. 2 by RPI (just behind Yale).

- 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 149 assists (M. Lamoureux is second with 149) and fourth with 258 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).


By the Numbers

- 8: Wins this season by St. Cloud State (8-7-1), matching the Huskies' victory total from all of 2014-15 (8-28-1).

- 26 and 51: Career shutouts and victories for Wisconsin junior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens, to fourth and 11th in WCHA history, respectively.


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

WCHA

No. 3 Minnesota (11-1-0-0, 33 points / 15-1-0) at No. 1 Wisconsin (10-0-0-0, 30 pts. / 16-0-0)
LaBahn Arena; Madison, Wis.
Friday, Dec. 4 at 7:07 p.m. CT and Saturday, Dec. 5 at 3:07 p.m. CT

- The best series in women's college hockey takes place at LaBahn Arena, as the first chapter of the 2015-16 Border Battle is a top-three showdown between No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 3 Minnesota.

- The series will pit the Golden Gophers' nationally top-ranked offense (6.06 goals per game) and the Badgers' NCAA-leading defense (0.38 goals allowed per contest). On the flip side, Minnesota ranks fifth by yielding 1.31 goals per game and the Badgers are third by scoring 4.94.

- The Gophers enter the weekend with six of the nation's top-20 scorers. Dani Cameranesi, Sarah Potomak and Hannah Brandt are 1-2-3 nationally by averaging 2.38, 2.36 and 2.31 points per game, respectively. Potomak also leads all rookies in scoring while also leading the nation in assists per game (1.86).

- Minnesota boasts the NCAA's top power play, scoring on 24 of its 49 chances (.490). Cameranesi leads the Gophers and the country with eight power-play goals.

- The Gophers' blue line is guided by Megan Wolfe and Milica McMillen, both of whom average one point or more per game.

- The Badgers will counter Minnesota's high-powered offense with Ann-Renée Desbiens and the country's best all-around defense. Desbiens has a perfect 14-0-0 record thus far, along with an NCAA-best 0.44 GAA, .972 save percentage and nine shutouts.

- Wisconsin is not only a strong defensive team, but also is powerful in the offensive zone. Annie Pankowski is seventh in the NCAA for scoring, tallying 1.81 points per game. Sarah Nurse is tied for 11th at 1.50 points per contest, while Emily Clark is riding a six-game goal-scoring streak.

- Jenny Ryan and Courtney Burke will play huge roles for the Badgers this weekend. Ryan is the NCAA's top-scoring defensemen, scoring 1.25 points per game. She is closely followed by Burke, who is second at 1.19.

- Minnesota is 45-26-9 all-time against Wisconsin, in a series that dates back to Feb. 7, 1998. The Gophers are unbeaten in the last 18 meetings (16-0-2), while their senior class is 13-0-1.


No. 6/5 Bemidji State (9-4-1-0, 28 pts. / 12-4-2) vs. No. 9 North Dakota (6-4-2-1, 21 pts. / 9-5-2)
Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn. and Ralph Engelstad Arena; Grand Forks, N.D.
Friday, Dec. 4 at 7:07 p.m. CT and Sunday, Dec. 6 at 2:07 p.m. CT

- The other WCHA series pitting nationally-ranked teams will be a home-and-home set between No. 6/5 Bemidji State and No. 9 North Dakota.

- The two teams have already met in a series marked by stellar defensive play. UND won the shootout following a scoreless tie Oct. 16 at the Sanford Center, while the Beavers scored at 18:04 of the third and again in OT for a 2-1 win Oct. 17 in Grand Forks.

- The Beavers have relied heavily on their senior class to provide them with offense. Senior Kaitlyn Tougas leads the team in points (13) with three goals and a team-best 10 assists. Fellow senior Ivana Bilic and Hannah Moher have each tallied 11 points. Bilic has recorded nine points in her last eight games while Tougas has eight points in her last eight contests.

- Junior netminder Brittni Mowat has 41 career wins – matching BSU great Zuzana Tomcikova for most in program history. Mowat ranks sixth nationally with a 1.48 GAA this season and seventh with a .946 save percentage.

- Amy Menke, Becca Kohler and Meghan Dufault have been an all-star line for the Fighting Hawks this season. The trio has accounted for more than half of North Dakota's offense this season, scoring 25 goals and adding 31 assists.

- North Dakota ranks fifth in the NCAA for most blocked shots by a team with 234. On average, the Fighting Hawks block 14.62 shots per game.

- UND's penalty kill is also outstanding. The Hawks penalty kill is the eighth best in the country and second best in the WCHA, killing off 90 percent of their penalties.


St. Cloud State (4-7-1-1, 14 pts. / 8-7-1) at No. 10 Minnesota Duluth (3-7-0-0, 9 pts. / 6-10-0)
AMSOIL Arena; Duluth, Minn.
Friday, Dec. 4 at 3:07 p.m. CT and Saturday, Dec. 5 at 3:07 p.m. CT

- St. Cloud State brings its program-record six-game winning streak to Duluth to face the Bulldogs, who are 2-1-0 in their last three games (all against nationally-ranked opponents).

- SCSU is two shy of a program-best eight-game unbeaten streak, achieved between Dec. 8, 2007 and Jan. 19, 2008 (6-0-2).

- UMD has played the nation's toughest schedule to date according to the KRACH ratings (No. 2 in the RPI ledger). This weekend's series will mark just the Bulldogs' fifth and sixth games against non-ranked opponents.

- SCSU senior F Molly Illikainen scored three goals and added an assist for the Huskies last weekend. Two of Illikainen's three goals were game-winners. Illikainen has posted 13 points (8g-5a) during the team's six-game winning streak and has a nine-game point streak overall (12g-6a—18pts).

- Freshman forward Julia Tylke found her name on the score sheet twice last weekend as she assisted on both of Illikainen's game-winning goals. She, too, has scored in every game of the Huskies' winning streak (4g-6a—10pts).

- Minnesota Duluth will look to Ashleigh Brykaliuk to continue finding the back of net. In 16 games this season, Brykaliuk has scored six times and helped out on nine other goals for 15 points. Fellow junior Lara Stalder leads UMD with eight goals, while also tallying three assists.

- SCSU senior G Katie Fitzgerald was the WCHA Defensive Player of the Month for November after going 6-0-0 with a 1.33 GAA and .950 save percentage. On the other side, UMD freshman Maddie Rooney has started the Bulldogs' last four games and 11 of their past 13 contests.