2019 WCHA Championship: After completing two-game sweeps in their respective Western Collegiate Hockey Association Semifinal series on Saturday evening, WCHA regular-season champion Minnesota State will host No. 3 playoff seed Bowling Green on Saturday, March 23, in the 2019 WCHA Championship. The single-game matchup is set for 7:07 p.m. CT at the Verizon Center in Mankato, Minn.
- The winner of Saturday's WCHA Championship will take home the Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy and will earn the league's automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Championship.
- Minnesota State is seeking its third WCHA Postseason title this weekend. The Mavericks captured the 2014 playoff crown with a 4-1 over Ferris State at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., and won the 2015 title after posting a 5-2 victory over Michigan Tech at the Xcel Center in St. Paul, Minn. The Mavericks also advanced to the championship game in 2016 before falling, 2-1, to Ferris State in Grand Rapids, Mich.
- Bowling Green is making its second trip to the WCHA Championship Game since joining the league prior to the 2013-14 season. The Falcons dropped a 3-2 decision to Michigan Tech in the 2017 title game at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena in Houghton, Mich. That game marked the first year of the WCHA's on-campus postseason format. Bowling Green won its most-recent postseason league playoff in 1988 when it captured the Central Collegiate Hockey Association title with a 5-3 win over Lake Superior State at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
About Minnesota State: Nationally second- (USCHO.com) and third- (USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine) rated Minnesota State (31-7-2 overall/22-5-1-1 WCHA, 68 points) swept No. 4 seed Lake Superior State, 2-1 and 2-0, in Mankato over the weekend to advance to the league championship game for the first time since 2016. MSU opened the postseason with a two-game sweep of No. 8 seed Alabama Huntsville (3-1, 4-1) in the WCHA Quarterfinals. The Mavericks lead the nation in wins with 31 victories this year and captured their fourth WCHA regular season title in the last five seasons this year (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019).
About Bowling Green: No. 13/15 Bowling Green (25-9-5 overall/16-8-4-3 WCHA, 55 points), went on the road to defeat No. 2 seed Northern Michigan, 6-1 and 2-1 (2OT), at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich., to sweep the WCHA Semifinal series. After a resounding 6-1 win to open the series on Friday evening, the Falcons needed double overtime to secure victory in Game 2 and advance to the WCHA Championship Game for the second time since joining the league prior to the 2013-14 season. BGSU swept No. 6 seed, and two-time defending WCHA Postseason champion, Michigan Tech, 3-2 and 6-2, to reach the Semifinals.
2019 WCHA Championship Matchup
(3) Bowling Green at (1) Minnesota State: Saturday's Championship Game will be the third meeting between the Falcons and Mavericks this season. Bowling Green swept a two-game WCHA set against MSU, Dec. 14-15, at the Falcons' Slater Family Ice Arena. The sweep was only one suffered by the Mavericks during the 2018-19 season and Minnesota State enters play Saturday with a 17-3-2 record since that series at BGSU.
- Bowling Green's Lukas Craggs earned WCHA Forward of the Week honors for his performance in the Falcons' sweep that weekend, scoring a pair of goals, including the game-winner, in Saturday's series finale.
- Minnesota State holds a 10-9-3 record in the all-time series with the Falcons, which dates to 2008-09. This weekend's contest will be the third WCHA Postseason meeting between the two schools since Bowling Green joined the league in 2013-14. Both of those matchups took place in the Final Five semifinals with the Mavericks coming away with a 4-0 win in 2014 and a 2-1 victory in 2016. Both of those tournaments were held in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The Week in Review
at (1) Minnesota State 2, (4) Lake Superior State 0
at (1) Minnesota State 2, (4) Lake Superior State 1
(March 15-16 at Verizon Center; Mankato, Minn.)
- No. 1 seed Minnesota State earned a 2-1 win over No. 4 Lake Superior State in Game 1 of a best-of-three WCHA Semifinal series Friday at Verizon Center.
- All three goals of the game were scored within the first eight minutes of the opening period. The Lakers took a 1-0 lead 1:37 into the period when Minnesota State was caught on a line change and senior captain Diego Cuglietta converted on the partial breakaway, beating Dryden McKay with a laser high on the glove side.
- The Mavericks answered after junior winger Charlie Gerard flipped the puck up over the glove of Lake State senior netminder Nick Kossoff at the 6:18 mark. Less than a minute later, sophomore forward Walker Duehr gave Minnesota State a 2-1 lead with 10th goal of the season.
- Freshman netminder Dryden McKay was perfect in helping lead Minnesota State to a 2-0 win over Lake Superior State in Game Two.
- The victory clinched the best-of-three series for the Mavericks and established a school season record for victories with 31.
- For the second straight game, two goals scored in the first period was enough to give the Mavericks the win.
- MSU scored twice on a five-minute major man-advantage power play in the first period. At the 12:14 mark, Julian Napravnik chipped in his eighth goal of the season. Less than a minute later the Mavericks took the 2-0 lead after sophomore forward Reggie Lutz lit the lamp for the seventh time this season.
- McKay completed his fourth shutout of the season by stopping all 31 shots on net and improves to 23-6-2 on the season.
(3) Bowling Green 6, at (2) Northern Michigan 1
(3) Bowling Green 2, at (2) Northern Michigan 1 (2OT)
(March 15-16 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich.)
- Third-seeded Bowling Green scored the first four goals of the game and cruised to a 6-1 win over homestanding No. 2 seed Northern Michigan in game one of their WCHA Semifinal series on Friday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich.
- After a scoreless first period, BGSU struck first on a goal by Max Johnson 1:35 into the second period.
- Adam Smith added the Falcons' second goal four minutes later to push the lead to 2-0.
- BGSU then tallied twice on a five-minute power play early in the third period as Brandon Kruse (0:30) and Connor Ford (1:23) lit the lamp.
- NMU's Griffin Loughran got the Wildcats on the board 8:55 before BGSU added goals from Johnson (11:12) and Cameron Wright (19:54) to cap the scoring.
- Northern Michigan fell to Bowling Green, 2-1, in double overtime, on Saturday to give BGSU a sweep of the best-of-three WCHA Semifinal series in Marquette.
- The Falcons opened the scoring on a goal by Connor Ford at 15:12 of the first period but NMU equalized 21 seconds into the second period on a power goal by Darien Craighead.
- Neither team could solve Bowling Green's Ryan Bednard or NMU's Atte Tolvanen during the remainder of regulation or the 22:09 of overtime until Sam Craggs got the game-winner for the Falcons at 2:09 of the second extra session.
- Bednard stopped 40 shots for Bowling Green while Tolvanen turned away 41 shots in his final collegiate game.
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.