WCHA Week 1: Let's Drop The Puck On 2017-18!
NO. 2 WISCONSIN OFFICIALLY OPENS WCHA'S 19TH SEASON WITH NONCONFERENCE SERIES; BEMIDJI STATE, MINNESOTA, MINNESOTA DULUTH, OHIO STATE AND ST. CLOUD STATE HOST EXHIBITIONS
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No. 2 Wisconsin Officially Opens WCHA's 19th Season With Nonconference Series

Opening Faceoff

- Leaders and Champions: The Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), home to a record 16 national championships (including 15 of a possible 17 Frozen Four crowns), seven Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winners, 95 All-American and many Olympic, national team and professional players, officially drops the puck on its 19th campaign this weekend with the regular season opener.

- Polling Place: The WCHA is well-represented in the preseason USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine opinion polls, with No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 3 Minnesota and No. 5 Minnesota Duluth holding the same spot in both. Ohio State is also receiving votes in both ledgers.

- A New, Old Look for the WCHA: For the first time since the 2003-04 campaign, the WCHA's seven founding members will play a 24-game league schedule in 2017-18.

  • In addition to the 84-game gauntlet of the WCHA league schedule, member institutions will play a handful of nonconference games against each other. Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth will face off in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game (Nov. 6 in Cambridge, Minn.), Minnesota will host St. Cloud State (Jan. 9), while the Huskies will welcome Bemidji State (Nov. 22) and Minnesota Duluth (Jan. 20 on Hockey Day Minnesota 2018).

- Postseason Tournament Changes: As a reward for winning college hockey's premier conference, the WCHA regular season champion will earn a quarterfinal-round bye and advance directly to the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff, March 3 and 4 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. The other six teams will play in the best-of-three quarterfinals.

- WCHA and the Winter Olympics: The WCHA is honored to have six current and incoming student-athletes training in national team camps for an opportunity to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Since the league's inception in 1999, WCHA teams have produced a combined 66 Olympians for the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 Games.

  • The 2017-18 U.S. Women's National Team Roster includes forwards Annie Pankowski (Wisconsin) and Kelly Pannek (Minnesota), along with goaltender Maddie Rooney (Minnesota Duluth). Pankowski and Pannek, both All-Americans and All-WCHA performers, will return as seniors in 2017-18. Rooney, an All-WCHA selection and Most Outstanding Player of the 2017 WCHA Final Faceoff, will have two years of eligibility remaining.
  • The 2017-18 Olympic centralization roster for Canada's National Women's Team features Emily Clark (Wisconsin) and the Potomak sisters, Sarah and Amy (Minnesota). All-WCHA forward Clark will return in 2017-18 for her senior season with the Badgers, fellow all-league performer Sarah Potomak will be back for her junior campaign, while Amy Potomak will skate collegiately for the first time next season.

By the Numbers

- 6: Straight seasons that WCHA teams have ranked 1-4 nationally in attendance. Last season, Wisconsin drew 55,315 fans (2,911 per game) for 18 dates at LaBahn Arena and one game at the Kohl Center, Minnesota welcomed 39,059 (1,953) over 19 dates at Ridder Arena and one game at Braemar Arena; 22,342 fans (1,176) saw games at Minnesota Duluth's AMSOIL Arena and the final season of North Dakota women's hockey saw the program host 15,344 (808) at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

- 1,135: Saves in 2016-17 by second-team All-American Kassidy Sauve, the Ohio State single-season record and just three shy of the WCHA standard. After ranking among NCAA leaders for save pct. (5th - .942), minutes (sixth - 2098:20), shutouts (t7th - 6) and goals-against average (16th - 2.00), the redshirt-junior is the coaches' choice as preseason WCHA Player of the Year.


The Week Ahead

- Lindenwood at Wisconsin: The last WCHA team playing in 2016-17 opens the 2017-18 regular season, as 2017 national finalist Wisconsin hosts Lindenwood for a Friday-Saturday series (Sept. 22-23) at LaBahn Arena. The Badgers also became the first WCHA team to play an exhibition season, blanking the Korean Women's National Team, 8-0, last Saturday at LaBahn Arena.

- Korean Women's National Team Exhibitions: Prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, six WCHA teams will play the host country in exhibition games. After playing in Madison last Saturday, the Korean Women's National Team will skate this Wednesday (Sept. 20) at Bemidji State, this Friday (Sept. 22) at St. Cloud State, this Sunday (Sept. 24) at Minnesota, next Tuesday (Sept. 26) at Ohio State and Jan. 2 at Minnesota State.

- Minnesota Whitecaps at Minnesota Duluth: Minnesota Duluth hits the ice for a home exhibition contest with the Minnesota Whitecaps this Sunday (Sept. 24) at AMSOIL Arena.