Two in the Top-12: The men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) enters the 2019 portion of the season with two teams in the top-12 of the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll: No. 8 Bowling Green and No. 12 Minnesota State. The Falcons (eighth) and Mavericks (12th) hold down the same spots in the PairWise Rankings, while Lake Superior State (20th) and Michigan Tech (26th) are within striking distance of the top-16.
First GLI Title for the Lakers: Lake Superior State won its first-ever Great Lakes Invitational over the weekend in its fourth appearance in the GLI behind tournament MVP and team captain Diego Cuglietta, who recorded and NCAA-best four goals last week.
- The championship game win was the 11th victory of the season for the Lakers, which surpasses their total for the 2017-18 campaign (10).
- LSSU downed Michigan State, 4-3, in overtime in Sunday's semifinal before defeating WCHA rival Michigan Tech, 6-3, in the championship game.
Going for Gold: Minnesota State head coach and two-time WCHA Coach of the Year Mike Hastings has the U.S. National Team in position for a medal at the IIHF Junior World Championships in British Columbia. The United States defeated the Czech Republic, 3-1, in the quarterfinals on Jan. 2 and is slated to play Russia in the semifinals on Jan. 4, with the winner facing Finland or Switzerland for the gold.
BY THE NUMBERS
12: Lake Superior State's win at the Great Lakes Invitational was the 12th GLI title won by current WCHA schools. The win was also the second GLI title won by a conference school in 2018. Bowling Green won the 2017-18 season GLI, which was played on Jan. 1-2, 2018.
4: The number of WCHA teams with 10 wins on the season - Minnesota State (14), Bowling Green (13), Lake Superior State (11), Michigan Tech (10). The total tops all NCAA Division 1 conferences
3: Game-winning goals by Bowling Green's Lukas Craggs in December. The total led the NCAA for the month and spurred the Falcons to a 5-0-1 mark to close out the 2018 calendar year.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Conference Play Heats Up: WCHA play resumes with a full slate of five conference series on the opening weekend of the new year with the highlight being the series between Michigan Tech and No. 12 Minnesota State in Mankato.
- The Huskies and Mavericks stand first and third, respectively, in the league race, separated by two points and bookending No. 8 Bowling Green.
- Michigan Tech and Minnesota State have combined to win four of the last five WCHA tournament championships and have won or shared three of the last four McNaughton Cups as well.
- Other series on tap this weekend include No. 8 Bowling Green hosting Bemidji State, Ferris State visiting Alabama Huntsville, Alaska hosting Northern Michigan and Alaska Anchorage hosting Lake Superior State.
- The Bowling Green-Bemidji series is a rare Thursday-Friday pairing with the remaining matchups following the traditional Friday-Saturday scheduling. All the action will be available for viewing on FloHockey.tv.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW
Eight WCHA teams were in non-conference or exhibition action over the Christmas break with Lake Superior State capping the weekend with its first Great Lakes Invitational title. Following is a brief look at all the action.
54th GREAT LAKES INVITATIONAL
(Dec. 30-31 at Little Caesars Arena; Detroit, Mich.)
Semifinal 1 - Michigan Tech 2, vs. Michigan 2 - OT (MTU wins shootout, 2-1)
The Huskies advanced to their fourth straight GLI championship game with a 2-2 tie and shootout victory over Michigan.
Freshman Tommy Parrottino scored in the fifth round of the shootout to send Michigan Tech to the title game. Jake Lucchini scored in the third round to keep the Huskies alive and send it to the sudden death rounds, while goaltender Robbie Beydoun stopped three of four Wildcats shots.
Before Parrottino's shootout heroics, the Huskies received regulation goals from fellow rookies Alec Broetzman and Brian Halonen. Beydoun made 36 saves through 65 minutes.
Semifinal 2 - Lake Superior State 4, Michigan State 3 - OT
The Lakers overcame a 2-0, first-period deficit to defeat Michigan State, 4-3 in overtime on Diego Cuglietta's second goal of the game, setting up the second-consecutive all-WCHA GLI championship game. Anthony Nellis and Cuglietta scored in the opening stanza to draw Lake Superior State even, while Max Humitz lit the lamp in the second period. Nick Kossoff made 29 saves for the Lakers, who earned their first GLI win since 1996.
Championship - Lake Superior State 6, Michigan Tech 3
The Lakers defeated the Huskies 6-3 in the Great Lakes Invitational final. Senior center Diego Cuglietta was named Tournament MVP as LSSU won the GLI for the first time in program history in its fourth appearance.
Anthony Nellis and Cuglietta scored in the opening stanza to draw Lake Superiror State even, while Max Humitz lit the lamp in the second period. Nick Kossoff made 29 saves for the Lakers, who earned their first GLI title since 1996.
DESERT HOCKEY CLASSIC
(Dec. 28-29 at Glia River Arena; Glendale, Ariz.)
Semifinal 1 - No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 4, No. 8 Minnesota State 3 (OT)
No. 8 Minnesota State dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to No. 4 Minnesota Duluth in the opening round of the Desert Hockey Classic.
Sophomore Dallas Gerads opened the scoring for the Mavericks to cut the lead to 2-1 at the first intermission. juniors Marc Michaelis and Josh French scored a pair of goals in the second to push Minnesota State to the lead before the Bulldogs forced overtime with a power play goal late in the third period then netted the game-winner 2:17 into overtime.
Consolation - No. 8 Minnesota State 2, No. 13 Arizona State 2
(ASU wins shootout, 1-0)
No. 8 Minnesota State fell behind early but rallied to earn a 2-2 tie with No. 13 Arizona State in the third-place game at the Desert Hockey Classic.
Walker Duehr and Dallas Gerads posted a pair of second period goals for the Mavericks while Charlie Gerard and juniors Marc Michaelis and Edwin Hookenson each added an assist. Dryden McKay stopped 26 of 28 shots in regulation and overtime.
TD BANK CATAMOUNT CUP
(Dec. 28-29 at Gutterson Fieldhouse; Burlington, Vt.)
Semifinal - Vermont 4, Alabama Huntsville 1
Alabama Huntsville fell, 4-1, to host Vermont in the opening round of the TD Bank Catamount Cup.
Freshman Bauer Neudecker netted the only goal on the night for the Chargers off of assists from sophomore Andrew Dodson and freshman Jack Jeffers. Sophomore Mark Sinclair stopped 29 of 32 Catamount shots in the defeat.
Consolation - No. 11 Northeastern 2, Alabama Huntsville 0
Alabama Huntsville dropped a 2-0 decision to No. 11 Northeastern to wrap up play at the TD Bank Catamount Cup.
Senior Jake Theut stopped 41 of 43 shots against his former team. The Washington, Mich., native was a member of the Northeastern program from 2014-18 before transferring to UAH prior to the season.
at Minnesota 5, Ferris State 3
Ferris State 3, at Minnesota 2
(Dec. 28-29 at Mariucci Arena; Minneapolis, Minn.)
The Ferris State Bulldogs split a pair of contests with the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. The Gophers posted a 5-3 win in the series opener before FSU rebounded with a 3-2 victory on Saturday to split the set.
Ferris redshirt junior Craig Pefley notched three assists in Friday's contest while freshman Cooper Zech posted a goal and a helper to add to his WCHA-leading freshman and defenseman scoring totals.
On Saturday, senior captain Corey Mackin tallied twice for the Bulldogs, including a third-period power play goal for the win.
Freshman Roni Salmenkangas stopped a career-high 44 shots in the win and a total of 71 shots over the two games.
at Nebraska Omaha 3, Alaska Anchorage 0
at Nebraska Omaha 4, Alaska Anchorage 0
(Dec. 29 and 31 at Baxter Arena; Omaha, Neb.)
The Alaska Anchorage Seawolves dropped a pair of road decisions to the Nebraska Omaha Mavericks over the weekend, falling 3-0 on Saturday and 4-0 on Monday.
Sophomore Brody Claeys stopped 30 of 33 shots in the opener while sophomores Kris Carlson and Kristian Stead handled 45 of 49 in the series finale.
Bemidji State 3, at Air Force 3 (OT)
at Air Force 6, Bemidji State 3
(Dec. 29 and 30 at Cadet Ice Arena; Colorado Springs, Colo.)
The Bemidji State Beavers earned a 3-3 tie in their opener at Air Force last weekend before dropping a 6-3 decision in the series finale.
Sophomore Henry Johnson posted a career-high 30 saves in Friday's tie and senior Justin Baudry added a goal and assist in the contest.
Sophomore Aaron Miller posted a goal and an assist in Saturday's loss with classmate Ethan Somoza and freshman Alex Ierullo also finding the net in the series finale.
at Bowling Green 7, Windsor (Ont.) 3 (Exhibition)
(Dec. 30 at Slater Family Ice Arena; Bowling Green Ohio)
No. 12 Bowling Green downed Windsor, 7-3, in exhibition action on Sunday.
Sophomore Max Johnson talled twice for the Eagles, who ended scored the game's final five goals to erase a 3-2 third period deficit.
2019 WCHA Postseason Tournament
Once again in 2019, the WCHA will bring the singular intensity and passion of playoff college hockey directly to its member institution fans with an eight-team, three-round tournament hosted on-campus by the highest remaining seeds. The winner will receive an automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship and the Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup.