WCHA Week 16: Full Slate Of League Series Await; No. 2 Wisconsin Looks To Avenge Season's Only Loss When Badgers Host No. 8 North Dakota
photo
No. 2 Wisconsin hosts No. 8 North Dakota at LaBahn Arena this weekend

Opening Face-Off

- WCHA Leading at the Polls: The nation's top women's college hockey conference continues to set this season's standard in the opinion polls, with the WCHA matching ECAC Hockey with four ranked teams in both the USCHO.com and USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings: No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 3 Minnesota, No. 7 Bemidji State and No. 8 North Dakota.

- Winning Hockey: Not surprisingly, five of the NCAA's top-15 winning percentages also belong to WCHA teams: Wisconsin (second at .938, 22-1-1), Minnesota (fourth at .870, 20-3-0), Bemidji State (ninth at .667, 15-7-2), North Dakota (10th at .659, 13-6-3) and St. Cloud State (15th at .543, 11-9-3).

- Zubko a Hockey Humanitarian Award Nominee: Ohio State senior defenseman Cara Zubko is among 18 nominees (men and women) for the 2016 BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award.

- Johnson Nears Milestone: Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson enters this weekend needing two victories to surpass former Minnesota Duluth bench boss Shannon Miller for third on the all-time NCAA Division I women's hockey wins list. Johnson, in his 13th season with the Badgers, has compiled a 382-72-35 career mark. Miller went 383-144-50 in her 16 campaigns with the Bulldogs.

- Frost Ties Gophers' Coaching Mark: With his team's next victory, Minnesota head coach Brad Frost will become 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 278-44-21, matching the career victories total of UMN legend Laura Halldorson (278-67-22).

- Huskie Pride: St. Cloud State continues to play impressive hockey under second-year head coach Eric Rud, posting a road sweep last weekend at Ohio State to run its record to 9-2-2 (.769) since Nov. 1 - the sixth-best record in the country (third-best in the WCHA) over that span. The Huskies have gone 7-1-2-2 in WCHA play over that stretch, accumulating 25 points and vaulting to fifth in the league standings - just four points behind Bemidji State for fourth. SCSU has already posted its most WCHA wins, league points and overall victories since finishing the 2009-10 season in third place with 32 points (11-11-6-4) and a 15-14-8 mark.

- Playmakers: Twelve (12) of the NCAA's top 25 performers in terms of points-per-game come from the WCHA, representing five institutions: Hannah Brandt (Minnesota, third at 2.16 points per game); Dani Cameranesi (UMN, fifth at 2.00); Sarah Potomak (UMN, sixth at 1.90); Annie Pankowski (Wisconsin, eighth at 1.58); Kelly Pannek (UMN, 11th at 1.48); Sarah Nurse (UW, 14th at 1.30); Molly Illikainen (St. Cloud State, tied for 18th at 1.24); Ashleigh Brykaliuk (Minnesota Duluth, 20th at 1.21); Amy Menke (North Dakota, tied for 21st at 1.20); Emily Clark (UW, tied for 21st at 1.18); Cara Piazza (UMN, 23rd at 1.17); and, Kate Schipper (UMN, 25th at 1.12).

- The Puck Stops Here: Not to be outdone, the league's goaltenders have also made their mark on the national stage, with the following among the top 25 for goals-against average: Ann-Renée Desbiens (Wisconsin, 1st at 0.69); Amanda Leveille (Minnesota, sixth at 1.57); Shelby Amsley-Benzie (North Dakota, seventh at 1.60); Brittni Mowat (Bemidji State, eighth at 1.62); and, Katie Fitzgerald (St. Cloud State, 25th at 2.74). Desbiens (first at .961), Mowat (eighth at .940), Amsley-Benzie (14th at .926) and Leveille (18th at .918) are also all in the top-20 for save percentage.

- Quickly Around the WCHA: U.S. Women's National Team member Stephanie Anderson continues to lead BEMIDJI STATE with seven goals ... MINNESOTA leads the nation in both scoring offense (5.39 goals per game) and power-play percentage (31-for-66, 47.0 percent) ... MINNESOTA DULUTH junior F Ashleigh Brykaliuk has a 10-game point streak, accumulating five goals and 12 assists (17 points) over the span ... MINNESOTA STATE junior G Brianna Quade, who made 80 saves en route to WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors, now ranks second nationally with 682 stops this season ... Junior F Amy Menke, who is 15th nationally with 0.59 goals per game, has moved into the top 10 on NORTH DAKOTA'S all-time scoring list with 67 career points - tied for ninth in program history ... Three OHIO STATE blue-liners - Lauren Boyle (12), Dani Sadek (10) and Cara Zubko (10) - are all in the WCHA's top-10 defenseman in terms of total assists ... ST. CLOUD STATE'S 4-0 season sweep of OSU was the Huskies' first season series victory over the Buckeyes since the 2008-09 campaign ... WISCONSIN sophomore Annie Pankowski leads the Badgers with 38 points (16g-22a) - just four shy of matching her total from her 2014-15 national Rookie of the Year campaign.


The Week Ahead

- No. 8 North Dakota at No. 2 Wisconsin: The nearly-weekly all-WCHA, top-10 matchup moves to Madison, Wis., where the Badgers have won a program-record 16-straight games. No. 2 UW will look to avenge its only blemishes to date, as the Fighting Hawks earned a win (3-0) and tie (0-0, with UW winning shootout) back on Dec. 11 and 12 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

- No. 7 Bemidji State at Minnesota Duluth: The Bulldogs continue a season-long six-game homestand by welcoming the Beavers to AMSOIL Arena. BSU swept the teams' earlier meetings, winning 2-0 (Oct. 9) and 2-1 (Oct. 10) in Bemidji.

- Ohio State at Minnesota State: The Buckeyes will look to snap a five-game losing streak this weekend in Mankato. The Mavericks are playing some of their best hockey without much to show for it, following a Jan.8 tie by losing three-straight one-goal contests.

- No. 3 Minnesota at St. Cloud State: The Huskies return home to host the third-ranked Gophers, who have won 28-straight against SCSU (including all three meetings this season). This series marks SCSU's first at home since Nov. 20-21, while the Huskies are 4-0-1 in their last five contests at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.