WCHA Week 6: WCHA Boasts The Nation's Top-Three Teams In The Polls
No. 1 UW, No. 2 UMN, No. 3 UMD And No. 10 BSU Give League Four In Top-10; UND And OSU Also Receiving Votes
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Wisconsin, Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth sit atop the national polls

Opening Face-Off

- Three of a Kind, Working on a Full House: The top three teams - and four of 10 overall - in this week's national opinion polls are women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) teams, with another two receiving votes.

  • Top-ranked Wisconsin, No. 2 Minnesota and No. 3 Minnesota Duluth hold the top three spots in both the USCHO.com and USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine polls.
  • No. 10 Bemidji State gives the WCHA a fourth team, while North Dakota and Ohio State are receiving votes in both ledgers.

- Clutch Potomak: Minnesota has played eight games this year and has won seven of them - and sophomore forward Sarah Potomak has the game-winning goal in five of those contests. Perhaps most impressively, the Gophers have been tied in the third period or overtime in each of their last four outings - and in each instance, Potomak has scored the tie-breaking, game-winner.

  • The 2016 WCHA and National Rookie of the Year scored at the 13:20 mark of the third period to defeat Minnesota Duluth, 4-3 on Oct. 14, and then tallied the winner against the Bulldogs with 1:03 left in overtime Oct. 15. Last weekend, she scored with 4:36 and 13:18, respectively, remaining in regulation to lead Minnesota to a sweep at Ohio State.
  • Potomak leads the NCAA with her five game-winning goals overall.

- Sensational Sarah: Wisconsin senior forward Sarah Nurse on Sunday became the fifth Badgers player (seventh occurrence), and the 36th in WCHA history (53rd occurrence), to score at least four goals in one game. Her effort at North Dakota places Nurse in elite company, joining fellow UW greats Megan Hunter (Jan. 26, 2002 vs. Boston College), Cyndy Kenyon (March 11, 2006 vs. St. Cloud State), Hillary Knight (five goals on Sept. 27, 2008 vs. Quinnipiac), and Brooke Ammerman (Oct. 4, 2008 vs. Syracuse, Nov. 13, 2009 vs. Wayne State and Feb. 24, 2012 vs. Minnesota State).

- The Puck Stops Here: Once again, the WCHA boasts a bevy of fantastic goaltenders, with six ranking among the top-25 nationally for goals-against average and five placing among the top-20 for save percentage.

  • UW senior Ann-Renée Desbiens (second at 0.99), SCSU freshman Janine Alder (sixth at 1.07), UND senior Lexie Shaw (11th at 1.40), UMN junior Sidney Peters (14th at 1.52), BSU senior Brittni Mowat (16th at 1.85), OSU sophomore Kassidy Sauve (18th at 1.88) and UMD sophomore Maddie Rooney (23rd at 2.07) are among the GAA leaders.
  • Alder (third at .964), Sauve (sixth at .953), Shaw (11th at .944), Desbiens (12th at .938), Mowat (13th at .937) and Rooney (17th at .929) are in the save percentage rankings.
  • Among all NCAA goaltenders with at least five appearances, Shaw is one of only two to rank in the top-10 for shots faced (178), saves (168), save percentage and GAA. Alder leads all freshmen in GAA, save percentage, wins (tied with 3) and shutouts (tied with 1).
  • Sauve leads the NCAA in shots faced (320) and saves (305).

- 300 for Brad Frost: With the Gophers' 2-1, sweep-clinching win Saturday at Ohio State, Minnesota head coach Brad Frost became the 11th coach in NCAA D-1 women's hockey history to reach the 300-victory plateau. Frost joins Wisconsin's Mark Johnson (402) and former Minnesota Duluth head coach Shannon Miller (383) as the only three to reach the milestone entirely in the WCHA (Laura Halldorson compiled 278 of her 337 victories with Minnesota). Now in his 10th season with the Gophers, the four-time WCHA Coach of the Year is 300-46-22 (.845) in his illustrious career.


By the Numbers

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

- 96.0: NCAA-leading penalty-kill percentage for Bemidji State (24-of-25). The Beavers have killed 21 straight power plays and have not allowed a power-play goal since the first period of the season's first game (Sept. 30 at Syracuse).


The Week Ahead

- No. 1 Wisconsin at Minnesota State: The top-ranked Badgers will look to remain the WCHA's lone undefeated team when the visit the Mavericks in a coaching matchup of "Miracle on Ice" teammates Mark Johnson (UW) and John Harrington (MSU). The Badgers lead the all-time series with the Mavericks, 72-2-3 and have won seven-straight.

- St. Cloud State at No. 2 Minnesota: Riding a three-game undefeated streak (2-0-1), the Huskies travel to Ridder Arena to face the No. 2 Gophers. Minnesota is 72-3-2 all-time against SCSU, including a current 30-game winning streak dating back to February 2010.

- No. 3 Minnesota Duluth at Ohio State: The No. 3 Bulldogs venture outside Minnesota for the first time this season, traveling to Ohio State. The Buckeyes will play their seventh and eighth-straight games against ranked opponents (at UW, at BSU, vs. UMN and vs. UMD). UMD went 3-1-0 in the series last year and holds a 63-15-3 all-time edge.

- No. 10 Bemidji State at/vs. North Dakota: Regional rivals meet for a home-and-home series, with the Fighting Hawks hosting the No. 10 Beavers on Friday. UND leads the all-time series, 38-22-5; but, BSU held a 2-1-1 edge last season.


The Week in Review

- In a series marked by sparkling individual performances, No. 1 Wisconsin rode the 41st career shutout from Ann-Renée Desbiens and a four-goal effort by Sarah Nurse to its first sweep at No. 9/10 North Dakota since the 2010-11 season.

- Second-ranked Minnesota received four goals from Sarah Potomak - including a pair of third-period game-winners - to outlast a 90-save effort from Ohio State goaltender Kassidy Sauve and earn the weekend road sweep.

- In a tightly-contested series between ranked opponents, No. 4 Minnesota Duluth came out with a five-point weekend against No. 10/9 Bemidji State.

- Two intra-state rivals engaged in a hard-fought series in Mankato, with St. Cloud State emerging with five points against Minnesota State.

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


No. 1 Wisconsin 2, at No. 9/10 North Dakota 0
No. 1 Wisconsin 5, at No. 9/10 North Dakota 2
(Oct. 22 and 23 at Ralph Engelstad Arena; Grand Forks, N.D.)

In a series marked by sparkling individual performances, No. 1 Wisconsin rode the 41st career shutout from Ann-Renée Desbiens and a four-goal effort by Sarah Nurse to its first sweep at No. 9/10 North Dakota since the 2010-11 season.

Emily Clark put the Badgers up 1-0 with 13 minutes left in the third period in the opener, before senior Sarah Nurse sealed the victory with a late empty-net goal. Desbiens turned aside all 16 shots she faced for the shutout. UND senior goaltender Lexie Shaw was outstanding in her own right, saving 38-of-39 shots.

Nurse became the first Wisconsin player to score four goals in a game since Brooke Ammerman against Minnesota State on Feb. 24, 2012, helping the Badgers to a 5-2 win in Sunday's finale. Freshman Presley Norby tallied four assists, including on Lauren Williams' second-period game-winner. Jordan Hampton and Rebekah Kohlstad each scored for the Fighting Hawks.


No. 2 Minnesota 3, at Ohio State 2
No. 2 Minnesota 2, at Ohio State 1
(Oct. 21 and 22 at OSU Ice Rink; Columbus, Ohio)

Second-ranked Minnesota received four goals from Sarah Potomak - including a pair of third-period game-winners - to outlast a 90-save effort from Ohio State goaltender Kassidy Sauve and earn the weekend road sweep.

Potomak scored her first career hat trick, including the game-winning goal (to snap a 2-2 tie) with 4:36 remaining in regulation, as the Gophers won Friday's opener, 3-2. Sauve made 35 saves, while Jacyn Reeves and Maddy Field both scored for the Buckeyes.

Sauve was sensational Saturday, making a career-high 55 saves to keep OSU tied into the third period, despite the Buckeyes being out-shot by a 57-19 margin. After the Buckeyes' Dani Sadek and the Gophers' Taylor Williamson traded second-period goals, Potomak notched another game-winner at the 6:42 mark of the third. The victory was the 300th for Minnesota head coach Brad Frost, as he became the 11th D-I women's head coach to reach the illustrious milestone (third to win all 300 games in the WCHA).


at No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 2, No. 10/9 Bemidji State 1
at No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 3, No. 10/9 Bemidji State 3-OT (UMD wins shootout, 1-0)
(Oct. 21 and 22 at AMSOIL Arena; Duluth, Minn.)

In a tightly-contested series between ranked opponents, No. 4 Minnesota Duluth came out with a five-point weekend against No. 10/9 Bemidji State.

Katerina Mrázová was the difference for the host Bulldogs in the opener, scoring both goals to give UMD the 2-1 win. She opened the scoring at the 1:13 mark of the second period and then, after BSU's Madison Hutchinson tied the contest, Mrázová netted the game-winner 4:08 into the third period. Bulldogs' goaltender Maddie Rooney made 20 saves, while the Beavers' Brittni Mowat stopped 39.

UMD appeared poised for the sweep Saturday, taking a 3-1 lead on the strength of goals by Katherine McGovern, Mrázová and Brooklyn Schugel. However, Bemidji State's Emma Terres scored twice - once on a power-play goal in the second period and then at 7:13 of the third - to force overtime. After neither team could score in the extra stanza, UMD's Lara Stalder scored the lone shootout goal for the extra league point. Mowat made 38 more saves - including 13 in the third period and overtime - to give BSU a chance.


St. Cloud State 2, at Minnesota State 2 - OT (SCSU wins shootout, 2-1)
St. Cloud State 2, at Minnesota State 0
(Oct. 21 and 22 at Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn.)

Two intra-state rivals engaged in a hard-fought series in Mankato, with St. Cloud State emerging with five points against Minnesota State.

The two teams traded goals Friday, with Emily Antony's score for Minnesota State with 1:52 remaining in regulation forcing overtime (SCSU's Kayla Friesen and Payge Pena tallied goals, while Mavericks' freshman Demi Gardner netted her first collegiate goal). After a scoreless overtime period, the shootout for the extra league point lasted until the eighth round, when the Huskies' Kelsey Saelens finally ended it for SCSU.

After a 26-save performance in the series opener, SCSU freshman Janine Alder was even better in the finale, stopping all 30 shots she faced for her first career shutout in a 2-0 victory. Alder made 10 saves in the first period, 14 in the second and six in the third, while the Huskies received first-period goals by Alyssa Erickson (4-on-4) and Julia Tylke (power-play).