- WCHA Leading at the Polls: After the first full week and weekend of the 2016 calendar year, the WCHA continues to set this season's NCAA standard in the national polls. The league has matched ECAC Hockey with four ranked teams, including an NCAA-best three of the top six in both the USCHO.com and USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings (No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 3 Minnesota and No. 6 Bemidji State). North Dakota is No. 9 and No. 8 in the two rankings.
- Winning Hockey: Not surprisingly, five of the NCAA's top-16 winning percentages also belong to WCHA teams: Wisconsin (second at .932, 20-1-1), Minnesota (fourth at .857, 18-3-0), Bemidji State (eighth at .727, 15-5-2), North Dakota (12th at .625, 11-6-3) and St. Cloud State (16th at .500, 9-9-3).
- Nonconference Success: With the regular season portion of the league's nonconference schedule complete, the WCHA finished with an NCAA-best .786 winning percentage in those games (32-8-2).
- Hall of Fame Game: The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum Women's Faceoff Classic between Minnesota and St. Cloud State, played on Friday, Dec. 11, has been reinstated as a countable game (rather than an exhibition contest). The Gophers defeated the Huskies 7-0, meaning Minnesota's record now stands at 18-3-0 while St. Cloud State drops to 9-9-3.
- Frost Nears Gophers' Coaching Mark: Minnesota head coach Brad Frost is close to becoming the winningest coach in Gopher women's hockey history. Now in his ninth season as the Gophers' bench boss, Frost enters this weekend's series with an overall record of 276-44- 21, two wins shy of matching the career mark of UMN legend Laura Halldorson (278-67-22).
- Playmakers: Eleven (11) of the NCAA's top 25 performers in terms of points-per-game come from the WCHA, representing five institutions: Hannah Brandt and Sarah Potomak (Minnesota, tied for third at 2.11 points per game); Dani Cameranesi (UMN, fifth at 2.10); Annie Pankowski (Wisconsin, seventh at 1.64); Kelly Pannek (UMN, 11th at 1.50); Molly Illikainen (St. Cloud State, tied for 14th at 1.33); Sarah Nurse (UW, tied for 13th at 1.33); Cara Piazza (UMN, 19th at 1.20); Amy Menke (North Dakota, 21st at 1.20); Ashleigh Brykaliuk (Minnesota Duluth, tied for 22nd at 1.18); and, Kate Schipper (UMN, 24th at 1.15).
- 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 110 career goals (Monique Lamoureux, who scored 113 with UMN and UND, is fifth), tied for second with 152 assists (matching M. Lamoureux, eight shy of Jocelyne Lamoureux, who holds the league record with 160 during her career with UMN and UND) and tied for third with 262 points (matching UW's Hilary Knight, with M. Lamoureux second at 265). In NCAA Division I history (since 2000-01), Brandt is 10th for goals (M. Lamoureux and Dartmouth's Katie Weatherston are tied for eighth), tied for third for assists (M. Lamoureux, with J. Lamoureux in second) and tied for sixth for points (Knight, with M. Lamoureux and Harvard's Nicole Correiro tied for fourth).
- Quickly Around the WCHA: BSU's Summer Thibodeau and Stephanie Anderson scored 1:09 apart in the first period last Thursday vs. Lindenwood, the third-fastest goals in program history ... UMN senior defenseman Milica McMillen is closing in on the Gophers' record for goals by a defenseman, having scored 42 (five behind program leader Megan Bozek) ... UMD has played 14 of its 22 games against teams ranked in the top-eight nationally and has played the country's toughest schedule to date, according to the latest KRACH ratings ... Of the 87 points MSU has recorded this season, 63 have been tallied by underclassmen (72 percent) ... UND senior Meghan Dufault, who recently surpassed Alyssa Wiebe for fifth place in program history with 118 career points, is 13 shy of Michelle Karvinen for fourth ... No freshman defenseman in the country has more assists than OSU's Lauren Boyle (12), while she is tied for sixth among all rookie skaters ... SCSU is 7-2-2 in its last 11 games, and Molly Illikainen has factored in the game-winning goal five times (4g-1a)... A season after setting the NCAA record for penalty kill efficiency at .958, UW is even better this year at .963 (in fact, the Badgers have scored more short-handed goals, 6, than they have allowed power-play strikes, 3).
By the Numbers
- 16: Current home winning streak for Wisconsin, longest in program history.
The Week Ahead
- No. 2 Wisconsin at No. 6 Bemidji State: The nearly-weekly all-WCHA, top-10 matchup resumes when the sixth-ranked Beavers host the No. 2 Badgers at the Sanford Center. UW has won the last four meetings (including a 3-0 and 4-0 home sweep in October).
- No. 9/8 North Dakota at Minnesota Duluth: The Fighting Hawks play their first official games of the 2016 calendar year with a weekend series at AMSOIL Arena against the Bulldogs (who once again play a team ranked in the top-eight). The teams split a pair of one-goal games in Grand Forks on Nov. 20-21.
- Minnesota State at No. 3 Minnesota: The Gophers will look to extend a 28-game winning streak against the Mavericks, which includes 11-1 and 2-1 victories Nov. 27 and 28 in Mankato.
- St. Cloud State at Ohio State: The Huskies will look to win a series against the Buckeyes for the first time since the 2008-09 season. SCSU swept a Nov. 20-21 series in St. Cloud, winning 3-2 and 4-1.