Playoffs? We're Talking About Playoffs?: With two weekends to go in the regular season in the WCHA, seven teams have secured spots in the league's postseason tournament - Minnesota State, Bowling Green, Lake Superior State, Bemidji State, Northern Michigan, Michigan Tech and Alaska. Alabama Huntsville (22 points) and Ferris State (18) will meet in Big Rapids this weekend with just four points separating the two teams in the battle for the final WCHA playoff slot.
Chasing MacNaughton: No. 4/4 Minnesota State clinched a share of the MacNaughton Cup last weekend and can secure the Cup outright and the No. 1 seed in the WCHA playoffs with one point in this weekend's series at Alaska. The Mavericks enter play Friday with 59 points, 12 ahead of second-place No. 15/RV Bowling Green and No. 18/RV Lake Superior State (47).
20-Win Club: Lake Superior State's 3-1 win over Michigan Tech last Saturday was the Lakers' 20th victory of the season, marking the first time since 2006-07 Lake State has reached the 20-win mark.
- Since beginning play at the Great Lake Invitational on Dec. 30, the Lakers have been one of the hottest teams in the country, winning the GLI title and rolling to an 11-2-1 record over that span.
#VoteWCHA: Eight Western Collegiate Hockey Association student-athletes are among the candidates for the 2019 Hobey Baker Award. Fan voting for this year's Baker Award is now open. Fans can cast up to one vote per day at https://www.hobeybaker.com/vote. This year's WCHA candidate are: Lukas Craggs (BGSU), Brandon Kruse (BGSU), Corey Mackin (FSU), Diego Cuglietta (LSSU), Anthony Nellis (LSSU), Jake Lucchini (MTU), Marc Michaelis (MSU) and Atte Tolvanen (NMU).
Mavericks, Falcons and Lakers Remain in Pairwise Hunt: Minnesota State (5), Bowling Green (16) and Lake Superior State (19) remain in the mix for NCAA playoff berths with the release of the latest Pairwise Rankings.
Year of the Defenseman: Three WCHA defensemen are among 13 blueliners nationally who lead their teams in scoring - Philip Beaulieu (28 points), Ferris State's Cooper Zech (27 points) and Bemidji State's Justin Baudry (26). The trio ranks 8th, 12th and 13th, respectively, in the NCAA among defenders for points scored.
By The Numbers
493: NCAA-leading blocked shot total for Alabama Huntsville this season.
89: Career points scored by Northern Michigan defenseman Philip Beaulieu, which ranks No. 6 among active NCAA blueliners.
17: Wins by Minnesota State goaltender Dryden McKay, which leads all NCAA freshmen. McKay is also the national rookie leader in GAA (1.87) and shutouts (3).
10: Goals by Michigan Tech freshman Brian Halonen, which leads WCHA rookies and ranks No. 8 nationally for newcomers.
1.81: Bowling Green's goals-against average this season, which ranks No. 2 in the NCAA.
The Week Ahead
Alabama Huntsville at Ferris State: The Bulldogs trail the visiting Chargers by four points for the final WCHA playoff spot.
Alaska Anchorage at Michigan Tech: Six of the last seven meetings between these two teams have gone to overtime.
18/RV Lake Superior State at Northern Michigan: The UP rivals meet in Marquette with an eye on second place in the league standings.
15/RV Bowling Green at RV/UR Bemidji State: Homestanding Beavers looking to lock down a home quarterfinal series.
4/4 Minnesota State at Alaska: The Mavericks can wrap up the outright WCHA regular season title in Fairbanks this weekend while the Nanooks are looking to continue their climb up the league standings.
- All of this weekend's action will be available on FloHockey.tv.
The Week in Review
at (19/RV) Lake Superior State 3, Michigan Tech 1
at (19/RV) Lake Superior State 3, Michigan Tech 1
(Feb. 15-16 at Taffey Abel Arena; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.)
- After falling into an early 1-0 hole, No. 19/RV Lake Superior State scored three unanswered goals in the second and third periods for a 3-1 over visiting Michigan Tech on Friday evening.
- Brian Halonen staked the Huskies to a 1-0 lead with a power play goal just 3:04 into the game and held the lead going into the second period.
- But Brayden Gelsinger lit the lamp on a power play for the Lakers at 2:54 of the second to tie the score at 1-1.
- Max Humitz gave Lake State the lead with his 13th goal of the season at 3:08 of the third period and Steven Ruggiero got the game-clincher, scoring on an empty net at 19:06.
- Mareks Mitens made 30 saves for the Lakers while Matt Jurusik turned away 26 shots for Michigan Tech.
- Lake Superior State posted a second-consecutive 3-1 win over visiting Michigan Tech on Saturday to sweep the two-game set and record its 20th win of the season.
- The win marks the first time Lake State has reached the 20-win plateau since 2006-07.
- Hobey Baker candidate Diego Cuglietta scored LSSU's first and third goals on the day to reach 20 goals for the season.
- Max Humitz added his 14th of the year for the game-winner.
- Michigan Tech's Hobey candidate, Jake Lucchini, potted his eighth of the season for the Huskies' lone score.
- Nick Kossoff stopped 31 shots for Lake Superior.
- Matt Jurusik made 25 saves for the Huskies, to give him 51 stops in the series.
No. 16/RV Bowling Green 8, Alaska 0
No. 16/RV Bowling Green 3, Alaska 3 (Alaska wins 3-on-3)
(Feb. 15-16 at Slater Family Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio)
- No. 16/RV Bowing Green tied its season-high for goals as seven different players scored in an 8-0 home win over Alaska on Friday evening.
- The victory marked the third time this season the Falcons have scored eight goals in a game and the win was the fourth shutout of the season for BGSU.
- Sam Craggs scored twice and was joined on the score sheet by Stephen Baylis, Cameron Wright, Taylor Schneider, Will Cullen, Jacob Dalton and Frederic Letourneau.
- Wright and Cullen scored the power play while Dalton and Letourneau scored shorthanded for the Orange & Brown.
- Defensively, Bowling Green limited the Nanooks to just 14 shots, all of which were turned away by Ryan Bednard.
- Bowling Green and Alaska played a back-and-forth game on Saturday that ended in a 3-3 tie with the visiting Nanooks picking up the extra WCHA point with a goal in the 3-on-3 overtime period.
- Alaska jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first period on goals by Jake Gresh (0:53), Tristen Thompson (PP- 12:55) and Tyler Cline (PP- 14:12).
- Connor Ford's shorthanded goal at 3:03 was the Falcons' lone tally in the period. BGSU rallied with a pair of goals in the second period by Cameron Wright (0:25) and Will Cullen (PP- 15:08) to knot the score but could not put another puck past Alaska's Gustav Grigals, who made 35 saves in regulation and the first overtime period.
- After a scoreless overtime, the Nanooks' Kylar Hope ended the contest with a goal at 2:44 of the 3-on-3 session.
at Bemidji State 2, Northern Michigan 2 (BSU wins 3-on-3)
at Bemidji State 3, Norhtern Michigan 0
(Feb. 15-16 at Sanford Center, Bemidji, Minn.)
- Ethan Somoza scored with 1:08 left in the 3-on-3 overtime session as Bemidji State picked up an extra WCHA point in a 2-2 with Northern Michigan on Friday in Bemidji, Minn.
- The teams exchanged goals in the first and third periods with the visiting Wildcats scoring first in each frame with the Beavers answering both goals.
- Troy Loggins opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal for Northern Michigan at 13:33 but Charlie Combs answered 50 seconds later with an even-strength tally to tie the contest at 1-1.
- The score held until NMU took a 2-1 lead on its second shorthanded goal of the night, this time by Griffin Loughran at 6:51 of the third period.
- But the Beavers would equalize again when Brad Johnson scored on the power play at 13:57.
- After a scoreless overtime period, Somoza gave BSU the extra point with his 3-on-3 score.
- Zach Driscoll stopped 16 shots in the contest for Bemidji State while Atte Tolvanen made 32 saves for Northern Michigan.
- Zach Driscoll stopped 21 shots, while Adam Brady, Brendan Harris and Nick Cardelli each potted a goal to lead Bemidji State to a 3-0 win over visiting Northern Michigan on Saturday.
- The win gave the Beavers five of six points in the weekend series to move them into a tie for fourth place in the WCHA standings.
- BSU was 1-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill to extend its streak of successful penalty kills to 39 in a row, dating to Dec. 30.
- Hobey Baker candidate Atte Tolvanen stopped 29 shots for the Wildcats, giving him 61 saves for the series.
Ferris State 2, at Alaska Anchorage 1
Ferris State 1, at Alaska Anchorage 1 (Alaska wins 3-on-3)
(Feb. 15-16 at Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Ak.)
- Coale Norris broke a 1-1 tie with his seventh goal of the season in the third period to give Ferris State a 2-1 win over Alaska Anchorage in the series opener between the two teams in Anchorage on Friday evening.
- Cooper Zech staked the Bulldogs to an early 1-0 lead with his seventh tally of the season at 15:09 of the first.
- The Ferris State lead stood until early in the final period when Tanner Schachle scored for Alaska Anchorage at 3:36 to square things at 1-1. But at 12:44, Hunter Wendt found Norris, who fired a one-timer past Kristian Stead for the game winner.
- Alaska Anchorage and Ferris State skated to a 1-1 tie, but Jonah Renouf scored in the 3-on-3 period to give Alaska Anchorage a second point in the WCHA standings Saturday.
- Nicolas Erb-Ekholm put the Seawolves on the board first with an unassisted goal at 3:45 of the first period. Ferris got on the board when Joe Rutkowski fired a shot at the UAA goal that was tipped by Craig Pelfey past goaltender Kris Carlson at 6:09 of the first frame.
- Neither team could find a way to light the lamp again until Renouf sent a shot on goal that trickled past FSU goalie Roni Salmenkangas one minute into the 3-on-3 period.
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.