WCHA Week 5: Full Slate Of League Series, Including Two Top-10 Matchups
No. 1 UW Visits No. 9/10 UND and No. 10/9 BSU Hosts No. 4 UMD; OSU Welcomes No. 2 Minnesota And SCSU Visits MSU
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No. 9/10 North Dakota hosts top-ranked Wisconsin in Grand Forks

Opening Face-Off

- Leading at the Polls: For the second-straight week, the women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) has an NCAA-best five teams ranked in the top-10 of the national opinion polls, comprising exactly half of both the USCHO.com and USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings.

  • Defending WCHA champion Wisconsin remains on top of both polls, while two-time defending national champion Minnesota is second. Minnesota Duluth is holding strong at No. 4, giving the WCHA three of the top-five.
  • North Dakota (No. 9 USCHO.com and No. 10 USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine) and Bemidji State (No. 10/9) round out the top-10.

- Strong Start for the Buckeyes: Following a whirlwind period prior to the season, first-year head coach Nadine Muzerall (hired on Sept. 10) and her staff have Ohio State receiving votes in the national polls for the first time since Feb. 23, 2015. The Buckeyes have enjoyed a strong, 3-2-1 start that includes a tie at LaBahn Arena against top-ranked Wisconsin and a win at then-No. 8 Bemidji State.

- 400 for Mark Johnson: With the Badgers' 4-1, sweep-clinching win Saturday at then-No. 7 Clarkson, Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson became the first bench boss in WCHA history - and just the third in D-1 women's hockey annals - to reach the 400-victory plateau (Harvard's Katey Stone has 469 and Mercyhurst's Michael Sisti has 430). Now in his 14th season with the Badgers, the seven-time WCHA Coach of the Year is 400-75-36 (.818) in his illustrious career.

- Passing the Baton: When North Dakota took the ice on opening night, it did so with a new look in net, as the Fighting Hawks were without the graduated Shelby Amsley-Benzie - a two-time top-10 Patty Kaz finalist and owner of nearly every major school goaltending record. However, senior Lexie Shaw (4-0-1) in five starts has been every bit as good as her predecessor, leading all NCAA goalies with a 0.97 goals-against average, ranking fourth with a .955 save percentage and tying for second with two shutouts.

- Growing the Game: Sunday's top-10 matchup between No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 9/10 North Dakota from the fabled Ralph Engelstad Arena will be televised live on Midco Sports Network, and will also be simulcast nationally on Fox College Sports Atlantic.

  • Additionally, last week the WCHA and FOX Sports North announced an unprecedented nine-game women's hockey package, featuring eight regular season league games and the 2017 Final Face-Off championship game.

- Nonconference Success: Wisconsin's road sweep at then-No. 7 Clarkson continued the WCHA's stellar start to nonconference play. The league is 13-1-2 (.875) thus far against College Hockey America (7-0-1), ECAC Hockey (4-0-0) and Hockey East (2-1-1).

  • The WCHA finished 35-8-2 (.800) in nonconference play in 2015-16, and is 213-59-21 (.763) this decade (beginning in 2010-11 and including NCAA tournament games).

By the Numbers

- 2.00: Points-per-game by Minnesota Duluth senior Lara Stalder, ranking second nationally. She has 12 points (6g-6a) in six games.

- 3: Game-winning goals (second in the NCAA), in six games, for Minnesota sophomore Sarah Potomak.

- 5: WCHA teams in the top-10 nationally for fewest goals allowed per game: Wisconsin (first at 1.00); Bemidji State and North Dakota (tied for third at 1.33); and, Minnesota and Ohio State (tied for sixth at 1.67).

- 40: Career shutouts for Badgers senior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens, an all-time Wisconsin record and just three shy of the NCAA mark held by Minnesota's Noora Räty.

- 101: Career points for Minnesota junior Kelly Pannek (38g-63a), becoming the 32nd player in Gophers history reach the milestone.

- 298: Career wins for Minnesota head coach Brad Frost, two shy of becoming the 11th head coach in women's D-I hockey history to reach the 300-victory plateau (third to do so all at a WCHA school). Currently in his 10th year with the Gophers, the program's all-time winningest coach has a 298-46-22 (.844) career record.


The Week Ahead

- No. 1 Wisconsin at No. 9/10 North Dakota: A match-up of superb goaltending, as Lexie Shaw (tops in the NCAA with a 0.97 GAA) and the No. 9/10 Fighting Hawks host Ann-Renée Desbiens (No. 2 in the NCAA at 0.98) and the top-ranked Badgers. Wisconsin leads the all-time series against North Dakota 45-7-3 and went 2-1-1-1 last season.

- No. 10/9 Bemidji State at No. 4 Minnesota Duluth: The Beavers and Bulldogs begin the latest installment of a burgeoning rivalry, which has seen one school upset the other in each of the last two WCHA quarterfinals (BSU over UMD in 2015, UMD over BSU in 2016). Bemidji State is 6-4-0 in the last 10 meetings - including its first-ever regular season series sweep last year.

- No. 2 Minnesota at Ohio State: First-year Buckeyes' coach Nadine Muzerall faces her alma mater - and the team she helped to four national championships as an assistant coach - for the first time as Ohio State hosts its home opener against the No. 2 Gophers. Minnesota is riding a 40-game unbeaten streak (38-0-2) in the series and has won the last seven-straight contests.

- St. Cloud State at Minnesota State: The intra-state rivalry between the Huskies and Mavericks resumes this weekend at the Verizon Wireless Center. SCSU won the 2015-16 season series, 3-0-1.


The Week in Review

- No. 3/2 Minnesota and No. 4 Minnesota Duluth played a thrilling, back-and-forth series that featured five in-game ties as neither team could gain more than a one-goal edge. In the end, two game-winners from Sarah Potomak lifted the Gophers to the sweep.

- Ohio State continued its impressive start by winning the opener at No. 8 Bemidji State, but the Beavers bounced back with a win Saturday to salvage the split.

- It took a little extra in the finale, but No. 10 North Dakota held off visiting Minnesota State to complete the weekend sweep.

- Top-ranked Wisconsin completed an impressive sweep at No. 7 Clarkson, while the Badgers' second win marked the incredible 400th career victory for head coach Mark Johnson.

- Full recaps and box scores are available at wcha.com.


at No. 3/2 Minnesota 4, No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 3
at No. 3/2 Minnesota 3, No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 2 - OT
(Oct. 14 and 15 at Ridder Arena; Minneapolis, Minn.)

No. 3/2 Minnesota and No. 4 Minnesota Duluth played a thrilling, back-and-forth series that featured five in-game ties as neither team could gain more than a one-goal edge. In the end, two game-winners from Sarah Potomak lifted the Gophers to the sweep.

UMD got on the board first Friday, with a Sydney Brodt goal just under five minutes into the contest. Setting the tone for the weekend, Minnesota freshmen Patti Marshall and Lindsey Agnew followed with goals to give the Gophers a 2-1 lead at intermission. The teams traded a trio of power-play goals in the second, with Potomak's first goal of the game sandwiched between tying scores by the Bulldogs' Jalyn Elmes and Ashleigh Brykaliuk. Potomak broke the 3-3 tie at the 13:20 mark of the third period, lifting Minnesota to the 4-3 triumph.

It would be Potomak again playing the hero for the Gophers in the finale, scoring her third goal of the weekend with just over a minute left in overtime to secure a 3-2 win and the sweep. The game-winner and two power-play goals from Cara Piazza and Kelly Pannek were all that Bulldog netminder Maddie Rooney let past in a 42-save performance. Senior forward Lara Stalder scored both UMD goals.


Ohio State 3, at No. 8 Bemidji State 1
at No. 8 Bemidji State 4, Ohio State 1
(Oct. 14 and 15 at Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn.)

Ohio State continued its impressive start by winning the opener at No. 8 Bemidji State, but the Beavers bounced back with a win Saturday to salvage the split.

Early scoring and stellar goaltending from Kassidy Sauve lifted Ohio State to the 3-1 win Friday. Lauren Spring and freshman Olivia Soares staked the Buckeyes to a 2-0 lead with first-period goals, before another rookie - Rebecca Freiburger - scored in the second period. Sauve made 35 saves, including stopping 18-of-19 shots in a frantic third period, to seal the OSU win. Madison Hutchinson scored the lone BSU goal.

Emily Bergland (2g-2a) factored in all four goals and Bemidji State scored three second-period, power-play tallies en route to the 4-1 win in the finale. After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Hutchinson scored for BSU on the man advantage 34 seconds into the second stanza. That was followed by power-play strikes from Emma Terres and Bergland, and an even-strength marker by Bergland in the third period. The Buckeyes received a third-period goal from Ariana DePinto to break up the shutout bid.


at No. 10 North Dakota 6, Minnesota State 0
at No. 10 North Dakota 4, Minnesota State 3 - OT
(Oct. 14 and 15 at Ralph Engelstad Arena; Grand Forks, N.D.)

It took a little extra in the finale, but No. 10 North Dakota held off visiting Minnesota State to complete the weekend sweep.

Three freshmen (Abbey Stanley, Emma Nuutinen and Rebekah Kohlstad) scored their first collegiate goals and the Fighting Hawks found the back of the net at least once in each period en route to a 6-0 win Friday night. Charly Dahlquist opened the scoring at the 12:13 mark of the first period, followed 35 seconds later by Stanley. Dahlquist's second goal of the game gave UND a 3-0 lead in the second period, before a three-goal final frame courtesy of the freshmen. Nuutinen scored twice, while Kolstad added one. Lexie Shaw made 17 saves for her second-consecutive shutout.

Saturday afternoon was a different story, but same result, as Nuutinen netted the game-winning goal with 1:24 remaining in overtime to give the Fighting Hawks a 4-3 victory and the sweep. The teams traded six goals during regulation, with Gracen Hirschy, Kayla Gardner and Vilma Tanskanen scoring for North Dakota. Megan Hinze scored twice for Minnesota State, lifting the Mavericks into 1-1 and 2-2 ties, before Hannah Davidson netted the final equalizer late in the second period. Minnesota State goaltender Kathryn Bidulka and UND netminder Shaw each had 19 saves in the contest.


No. 1 Wisconsin 3, at No. 7 Clarkson 2 - OT
No. 1 Wisconsin 4, at No. 7 Clarkson 1
(Oct. 14 and 15 at Cheel Arena; Potsdam, N.Y.)

Top-ranked Wisconsin completed an impressive sweep at No. 7 Clarkson, while the Badgers' second win marked the incredible 400th career victory for head coach Mark Johnson.

Emily Clark scored 1:51 into overtime Friday, completing a UW comeback and lifting the Badgers to a thrilling 3-2 victory. Trailing 2-1 entering the third period, Sam Cogan forced OT with the tying goal at the 9:34 mark. Sarah Nurse opened the scoring for UW, while Cogan also picked up the primary assist on Clark's game-winner. Ann-Renée Desbiens made 21 saves - including six in the third period and overtime - for the win.

Thanks to a three-goal flurry in the third period, Wisconsin earned Johnson his 400th career victory with a 4-1 triumph in Saturday's series finale. Johnson is now only the third head coach in NCAA Division I women's hockey to collect 400 victories on the bench and became the first WCHA coach to accomplish the feat. Tied 1-1 entering the final stanza, the Badgers received goals from Presley Norby (first career and the game-winner as part of a three-point day), Nurse and captain Sydney McKibbon (her second of the game). Desbiens' seven stops in the period closed out a 24-save effort and the victory.