WCHA Press Releases

WCHA Week 19: NCAA Tournament Begins
Minnesota State, Lake Superior State and Bemidji State begin the quest for the WCHA's 38th NCAA title

Opening Faceoff

- WCHA Lands Three in the NCAA Tournament: The WCHA landed three teams in the 2021 NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship – WCHA postseason champion Lake Superior State, MacNaughton Cup champion Minnesota State and Bemidji State. The trio are part of a 16-team field announced Sunday evening by the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee. The Lakers, Mavericks and Beavers will be seeking the WCHA's 38th NCAA title.

  • WCHA regular-season champion Minnesota State is making its seventh appearance in the tournament (2003, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019) and will be the No. 2 seed in the West Regional in Loveland, Colo.
  • Jeff Sauer Trophy winner Lake Superior State is making its 11th NCAA Championship appearance in program history and its first as a member of the WCHA this season. The Lakers are the No. 3 seed in the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn.
  • Bemidji State finished fourth in the WCHA regular-season and advanced to the semifinals of the WCHA Postseason to earn its fifth NCAA Championship trip and first a member of the WCHA. The Beavers will join the Lakers in Bridgeport as the East's No. 4 seed.

- WCHA Announces All-Decade Team for the 2010s: The WCHA concluded its recognition of 70 Years of Excellence last week with the announcement of its All-Decade honorees for the 2010s.

  • Named to the All-Decade Team were forwards Jack Connolly of Minnesota Duluth (2008-12) and Marc Michaelis (2016-20) and Matt Leitner of Minnesota State (2011-15); defensemen Justin Schultz of Wisconsin (2009-12) and Alec Rauhauser of Bowling Green (2016-20) and goaltender Dryden McKay of Minnesota State (2018-present).
  • UMD's Connolly was honored as the Player of the Decade. The WCHA's most-recent Hobey Baker Award winner and the captain of Minnesota Duluth's first national championship team, Connolly registered 197 points on 66 goals and 131 assists during his Bulldog career.
  • Minnesota State's Mike Hastings was named the WCHA Coach of the Decade. Hastings, who is in his ninth season at Minnesota State in 2020-21, has led the Mavericks to six MacNaughton Cup titles, including an unprecedented four in a row from 2017-18 through 2020-21. The six regular season titles tie him for third all-time in the WCHA with long-time Michigan Tech head coach John MacInnes, trailing only the seven crowns won by Denver's Murray Armstrong and Minnesota and Colorado College's Don Lucia.

By The Numbers

- 713: Saves by Bemidji State's Zach Driscoll this season. The total ranks second nationally and is the most by any netminder playing in the NCAA Championship.

- 159: WCHA Postseason-leading saves total by Northern Michigan freshman Rico DiMatteo.

- 92: Percent of penalties killed (173-of-188) by Bemidji State since the start of the 2019-20 season, the best percentage in the NCAA in that time period.

- 47: Goals scored by Lake Superior State since Feb. 1, the most in the nation. The Lakers also top the NCAA with 127 points in that span.

- 8: Points scored by Northern Michigan's AJ Vanderbeck in the WCHA Postseason to lead all league scorers.

- 3: Consecutive NCAA Championship appearances for Minnesota State with this year's trip.

- 1.89: Goals-against average for Lake Superior State's Mareks Mitens in the WCHA Postseason, the top GAA among all league netminders.

- 1.52: Goals allowed per game by Minnesota State this season, the lowest average in the country. MSU is one of only six teams in the nation allowing fewer than two goals per contest.

The Week Ahead

- No. 4 (14/15) Bemidji State vs. No. 1 (4/4) Wisconsin: Fourth-seeded Bemidji State will meet former WCHA foe Wisconsin in the opening game of the East Regional on Friday in what will be the second NCAA tournament meeting between the Beavers and Badgers. Wisconsin leads the all-time series, 6-0-1, and defeated BSU, 4-0, in the 2006 Midwest Regional in Green Bay, Wis.

- No. 3 (13/13) Lake Superior State vs. No. 2 (6/5) Massachusetts: WCHA Postseason champion Lake Superior State will meet No. 2 seed Massachusetts in the second game of the East Regional on Friday to open LSSU's first NCAA tournament since the 1995-96 season. Friday's contest will be the first meeting between Lakers and Minutemen.

- No. 3 (11/10) Quinnipiac vs. No. 2 (5/6) Minnesota State: WCHA regular-season champion Minnesota State will open its seventh NCAA tournament as the No. 2 seed in the West regional and will meet No. 3 seed Quinnipiac in Saturday's first round. The meeting will be the first between the two schools. The contest will be a match-up of two of the stingiest defenses in the NCAA. MSU (1.52) and QU (1.96) rank No. 1 and No. 6 in goals allowed per game this season.

2021 WCHA Postseason Tournament

Once again in 2021, the WCHA crowned a playoff champion at the WCHA Postseason Tournament presented by SPIRE Credit Union. Lake Superior State received the WCHA's automatic bid to the 2021 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship and the Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup.