WCHA Week 6: Border Battle Takes Center Stage
No. 6 Minnesota hosts No. 1 Wisconsin at Ridder Arena; Bemidji State welcomes Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State visits Minnesota State
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No. 6 Minnesota hosts No. 1 Wisconsin at Ridder Arena

Opening Faceoff

- Prominent in the Polls: The Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) enters the final weekend of October with three teams in the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls, with a fourth receiving votes.

  • 10-0-0 Wisconsin, one of only two D-I teams to play at least six games without a blemish, remains at the top of both polls. Ohio State is fourth for the second-straight week, while Minnesota is up to sixth. Minnesota Duluth dropped out of the top-10, but is receiving votes in both polls.

- Still Rolling: At 10-0-0, Wisconsin is off to the second-best start in school history. Only the 2015-16 squad enjoyed a better run, opening the season with wins in its first 18 games. Ohio State, which is idle this weekend, posted a sweep last weekend to extend the best start in program annals (7-0-1).

  • In fact, the Buckeyes' eight-game unbeaten run is the third-longest at any point of a season in program history, behind only a 10-game binge (9-0-1) from Oct. 28 to Dec. 8, 2006 and a nine-game streak (8-0-1) from Nov. 15, 2003 to Jan. 3, 2004.

- Impressive Company: Alex Rigsby. Jessie Vetter. Ann-Renée Desbiens. All three were All-Americans (and two won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award) in the Wisconsin net. But, the first goaltender in program history to begin her UW career a perfect 10-0-0 is sophomore Kristen Campbell.

  • Campbell, a transfer from North Dakota, set the standard with a pair of wins last weekend against Bemidji State. Rigsby and Desbiens each started 8-0-0 in the Cardinal and White.
  • Campbell leads the WCHA and ranks third nationally with a 0.96 goals-against average, while she is second in the league with a .949 save percentage (eighth NCAA) and three shutouts (tied for second in the country).

- Border Battle: Annually one of the best matchups in all of women's college hockey, No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 6 Minnesota meet this weekend at Ridder Arena for the first installment of the 2017-18 "Border Battle." Sunday's game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network, beginning at 5 p.m. CT.

  • The two programs have combined to win 11 national championships (10 NCAA, 1 AWCHA), 15 WCHA regular season titles (including each of the last nine seasons) and 13 WCHA playoff crowns (the last seven-straight years).
  • A combined 762 coaching wins will be behind the benches this weekend, with Wisconsin's Mark Johnson (438-78-39) and Minnesota's Brad Frost (324-55-28). Johnson is the WCHA's all-time winningest coach and is third in National Collegiate Women's Ice Hockey history, while Frost is third in league annals and eighth in NC history.
  • The Badgers are 4-0-2 in their last six games at Ridder Arena (1-0-2 against the Gophers), including wins in the 2016 (vs. Minnesota) and 2017 (vs. Minnesota Duluth) WCHA Final Face-Off championship games.
  • Minnesota leads the all-time series, 49-30-11. The teams are 4-4-2 in their last 10 meetings, with a 3-3 mark in an epic 2015-16 series and a 1-1-2 draw last season (including two ties at Ridder Arena in February 2017).

By the Numbers

- 41: Career wins for Minnesota senior goaltender Sidney Peters (41-10-5), good for sixth in Gopher history and two shy of Kim Hanlon for fifth place (43-14-2 from 2005-09).

- 60: Career points for Bemidji State senior defenseman Alexis Joyce, fourth among blue-liners in BSU history and one away from matching 2015-16 WCHA Defensive Player of the Year Ivana Bilic for third in program annals.

- 121: WCHA-leading blocked shots for Minnesota State, third-most nationally. Anna Keys leads the Mavericks with 22 blocks.

- 216: NCAA-leading saves for Ohio State redshirt-junior Kassidy Sauvé, along with her NCAA-best four shutouts. The 2016-17 All-American tops the WCHA with a .952 save pct. (sixth-best nationally), while she is second in the league and ninth in the country with a 1.36 goals-against average.


The Week Ahead

- Minnesota Duluth at Bemidji State: A pair of teams looking to halt recent losing skids and earn their first WCHA points of the year face-off in Bemidji, where the Beavers host the Bulldogs. UMD is undefeated in the last six meetings (4-0-2) and lead the all-time series, 66-12-4.

- St. Cloud State at Minnesota State: The Huskies and Mavericks will also be skating for their first WCHA points of the season when they meet in Mankato. SCSU is 36-30-11 (.539) against Minnesota State -- the program's best winning percentage against a WCHA rival. The Huskies are also 5-0-3 in the last eight meetings and 7-1-4 in the previous 12 contests.


The Week in Review

- No. 7 Minnesota received top-notch goaltending performances, one by a senior and one by a freshman, along with clutch scoring, to earn a road sweep at No. 8 Minnesota Duluth.

- Goaltender Kassidy Sauvé and the Ohio State defense proved to be too much to overcome for host St. Cloud State, as the fourth-ranked Buckeyes posted consecutive 4-0 shutout victories for the road sweep.

- Top-ranked Wisconsin ran its season-opening winning streak to 10 games, posting consecutive 5-1 victories over visiting Bemidji State.

- Watch all the top goals, plays and saves from last weekend on the "WCHA Highlight Reel," found here.

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


No. 7 Minnesota 4, at No. 8 Minnesota Duluth 1
No. 7 Minnesota 2, at No. 8 Minnesota Duluth 1
(Oct. 20 and 21 at AMSOIL Arena; Duluth, Minn.)

No. 7 Minnesota received top-notch goaltending performances, one by a senior and one by a freshman, along with clutch scoring, to earn a road sweep at No. 8 Minnesota Duluth.

Caitlin Reilly recorded three points, including a pair of goals, and Sidney Peters made 35 saves as the visiting Gophers won Friday's series opener, 4-1. Reilly and Cara Piazza (game-winner) each scored in the first period; then, after UMD's Jessica Healey scored 4:51 into the third, Reilly and Taylor Wente found the back of the net as Minnesota won going away.

Minnesota scored two, third-period goals to rally from a 1-0 deficit and secure the sweep with a 2-1 victory Saturday afternoon. Sophie Skarzynski tied the game at the 4:45 mark of the final stanza, before Caitlin Reilly scored the game-winner with 3:36 remaining in regulation. Patti Marshall set up both goals for the Gophers, while freshman goaltender Alex Gulstene made 26 saves. Rookie Ashton Bell scored the lone Bulldog goal, her third of the season.


No. 4 Ohio State 4, at St. Cloud State 0
No. 4 Ohio State 4, at St. Cloud State 0
(Oct. 20 and 21 at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center; St. Cloud, Minn.)

Goaltender Kassidy Sauvé and the Ohio State defense proved to be too much to overcome for host St. Cloud State, as the fourth-ranked Buckeyes posted consecutive 4-0 shutout victories for the road sweep.

After a scoreless first period in Friday's series opener, Ohio State scored all four of its goals during a 26-shot, second period outburst. Emma Maltais opened the scoring at the 4:39 mark, followed by Maddy Field, Rebecca Freiburger and Lauren Spring. Sauvé made 26 stops to outduel St. Cloud State's Janine Alder, who finished with 44 saves.

Sauvé pitched her second-straight, 26-save shutout in Saturday's series finale, getting all the offensive support she needed on Field's goal 15:49 into the contest. Julianna Iafallo scored twice in the second period and Maltais wrapped up a two-goal weekend with an empty-net strike late in the third.


at No. 1 Wisconsin 5, Bemidji State 1
at No. 1 Wisconsin 5, Bemidji State 1
(Oct. 20 and 21 at LaBahn Arena; Madison, Wis.)

Top-ranked Wisconsin ran its season-opening winning streak to 10 games, posting consecutive 5-1 victories over visiting Bemidji State.

Sophomore goaltender Kristen Campbell, a transfer from North Dakota, became the first Badger goaltender to win her first nine UW starts with a 21-save effort in Friday's series opener. Bemidji State held a 1-0 lead after the first period on a power-play goal by Jacqueline Kassa, but the Badgers scored three times in the second period and twice more in the third. UW's goals in the middle stanza came in a six-minute span, from Lauren Williams, Maddie Rolfes (game-winner) and Abby Roque. Claudia Kepler and Sophia Shaver sealed the outcome with third-period scores.

Kepler scored twice Saturday, while Roque added two assists in a 5-1 Wisconsin victory in front of another sellout crowd at LaBahn Arena. Now second in the country with a WCHA-high eight goals, Kepler lit the lamp just 46 seconds into the game, and finished the scoring with a third-period tally. Freshman defenseman Natalie Buchbinder scored her first collegiate goal in the first period, while Maddie Rowe and Mikaela Gardner also found the back of the net. Campbell improved to 10-0-0 with 11 saves, while her only blemish was the first collegiate goal by Bemidji State freshman Lydia Passolt.