- Falcons and Huskies in Top 20: Two teams that will face-off this weekend in Houghton, Mich. - No. 15 Bowling Green and No. 20 Michigan Tech - are the WCHA representatives in this week's USCHO.com poll. Both schools are receiving votes in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine poll, while Minnesota State and Alaska Anchorage received votes in the USCHO.com ledger.
- Competitive Balance: Six of the WCHA's ten teams are at .500 or better overall, including a trio of schools playing better than .600 hockey: Alaska Anchorage (.688, 5-2-1), Michigan Tech (.625, 5-3-0) and Bowling Green (.611, 4-2-3).
- Points for Everyone: Nine of the first 12 WCHA series of the 2014-15 season resulted in sweeps (75 percent). This year, there have been 11 WCHA series thus far - and only three sweeps (27.3 pct.). While the ratio eventually came down in 2014-15, at season's end, 61.4 percent of WCHA series (43) resulted in one team winning both contests.
- Heating Up: While Alaska Anchorage is off to its best eight-game start (5-2-1) since the 2008-09 season and Bowling Green survived playing six of its first seven games on the road, three WCHA teams have begun to find their stride in the last three to four weekends. Ferris State is 4-2-1 in its last seven games, Michigan Tech is 4-1-0 in its last five contests and Minnesota State has rebounded from an 0-4-0 start to go 5-1-0 in its last six outings.
- Century Mark: Alaska senior forward Tyler Morley reached and surpassed the career 100-point mark with a five-point weekend, and now sits at 103 points (48g-55a) in 107 collegiate contests (0.96ppg). Morley joins Michigan Tech senior Alex Petan (107 points on 44 goals and 63 assists in 124 games) as the two WCHA players among the nine active NCAA Division I skaters in the century club. Next up is Alaska Anchorage senior Blake Tatchell, who is 11 points shy (27 goals and 62 assists for 89 points in 116 games).
- Talons Up in Goal: Bowling Green's Chris Nell ranks second nationally with a .960 save percentage (167-for-174) and third with a 1.07 goals-against-average (7 in 394:04), helping the Falcons post a WCHA-best mark of 1.89 goals per contest (ninth in the NCAA). The sophomore has allowed one-or-fewer goals in four of six starts this year and two-or-fewer in 12 of 18 career starts (including five shutouts).
- Special in Bemidji: Bemidji State is one of just four teams (and the only WCHA school) to rank in the top 15 nationally for both power play (tied for seventh) and penalty kill (15th) efficiency. The Beavers have converted 25.8 percent of their chances with a man advantage (8-for-31), while successfully thwarting 31-of-35 opponent power plays (88.6 percent). BSU ranks third nationally for combined special teams at 59.1 percent (39-for-66).
By the Numbers
- 0.86: Goals-per-game average, tied for sixth-best nationally, by UAH's Brennan Saulnier, UAF's Tyler Morley and BSU's Gerry Fitzgerald. Their six goals are tied for seventh-most among all NCAA players, a group that also includes BGSU's Kevin Dufour.
- 1.57 and 1.43: Points-per-game averages for Morley and Saulnier, good for ninth and tied for 13th, respectively, in the country.
The Week Ahead
- No. 15 Bowling Green at No. 20 Michigan Tech: The Huskies will host a top-20 matchup with the Falcons at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena, where Tech is 11-1-0 in its past 12 games. These teams met in a 2015 Final Five semifinal, won by MTU, 5-2.
- Alaska at Bemidji State: Idle last week, the Beavers will look to snap a 0-4-1 stretch against the Nanooks, who split a home series with NMU last weekend. BSU swept UAF last year at the Sanford Center.
- Ferris State at Alaska Anchorage: The Bulldogs, 4-2-1 in their last seven games, visit the 5-2-1 Seawolves. Ferris State won all four meetings last year and leads the all-time series, 8-1-1.
- Nonconference Play: Two nonconference series are on tap. Lake Superior State hosts D-I newcomer Arizona State, while Minnesota State renews its rivalry with Minnesota in a home-and-home series (Mankato on Friday; Minneapolis on Saturday).
The Week in Review
- The lone series sweep of the past weekend occurred in Huntsville, as Michigan Tech won both contests against the host Chargers to vault back into the top 20 in the USCHO.com poll.
- Alaska and Northern Michigan each left the weekend with a win, splitting the series in Fairbanks by identical 5-2 scores.
- Behind superb efforts from a pair of sophomore goalies (LSSU's Gordon Defiel and BGSU's Chris Nell, longtime rivals Lake Superior State and Bowling Green skated to a pair of 1-1 ties.
- For the first-time ever in WCHA play, Ferris State earned a victory over Minnesota State, as the Bulldogs won the opener in a series split with the defending league champs.
- Full recaps, box scores and select video highlights are available online at wcha.com.
Michigan Tech 4, at Alabama Huntsville 2
Michigan Tech 2, at Alabama Huntsville 1
(Nov. 6 and 7 at Von Braun Center; Huntsville, Ala.)
The lone series sweep of the past weekend occurred in Huntsville, as Michigan Tech won both contests against the host Chargers.
UAH jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead Friday on a goal by Huntsville native Josh Kestner just 1:21 into the game. The Huskies, however, closed the period with three unanswered goals by Josh L'Esperance, Alex Petan and - with the short-handed game-winner - Brett Baltus. MTU's Mason Blalock added an insurance marker in the third period, while Jamie Phillips made 16 saves in goal. Chargers' netminder Matt Larose stopped 36-of-40 shots to keep UAH close.
Tech jumped out to a 2-0 lead Saturday with two goals in a 3:41 span of the first period, as Baltus and L'Esperance found the back of the net. UAH freshman defenseman Cam Knight scored his first career goal on a third-period power-play to bring the Chargers within one, but Phillips closed the door on the win and sweep. Carmine Guerriero made 28 saves for UAH.
at Alaska 5, Northern Michigan 2
Northern Michigan 5, at Alaska 2
(Nov. 6 and 7 at Carson Center; Fairbanks, Alaska)
Alaska and Northern Michigan each left the weekend with a win, splitting the series by identical 5-2 scores.
The weekend was a special one for Nanooks' captain Tyler Morley, as the senior became the 33rd player in program history (and eighth active NCAA Division I player) to reach the 100-point mark. Needing two points, Morley wasted no time reaching the milestone, as the senior scored twice in the first period Friday for a 2-0 UAF lead. He later added an assist on the eventual game-winning goal (by Colton Sparrow), as the Nanooks and goalie Davis Jones (21 saves) earned the win.
Northern Michigan turned the tide Saturday, as the visitors scored the game's first three goals (by Dominik Shine, Shane Sooth and - with the gamewinner on the power play - Ryan Trenz). T. Morley would add a goal and assist for UAF, but Sooth scored again for NMU and the Wildcats' Casey Purpur also lit the lamp for a 5-2 win. NMU goaltender Atte Tolvanen made 31 saves.
Lake Superior State 1, at No. 14/15 Bowling Green 1 (OT)
Lake Superior State 1, at No. 14/15 Bowling Green 1 (OT)
(Nov. 6 and 7 at BGSU Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio)
Behind superb efforts from a pair of sophomore goalies, longtime rivals Lake Superior State and Bowling Green skated to a pair of 1-1 ties. Lakers' netminder Gordon Defiel finished the weekend with 70 saves (on 72 shots), while the Falcons' Chris Nell turned aside 57-of-59 attempts.
Friday evening, BGSU's Kevin Dufour scored his sixth goal of the season at the 6:46 mark of the first period to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead. Freshman Josh Nenadal answered for LSSU at 14:04 of the second, and Defiel stopped a combined 21 shots in the third period and overtime.
The Falcons again scored first Saturday, with Pierre Luc-Mercier converting on a power play 12:38 into the second period. Again, the Lakers had the answer, with Zach Loesch netting his own power-play marker less than six minutes later. In overtime, LSSU would out-shoot BGSU by a 6-1 margin, but Nell held strong to preserve the tie.
at Ferris State 7, Minnesota State 4
Minnesota State 3, at Ferris State 2
(Nov. 6 and 7 at Ewigleben Ice Arena; Big Rapids, Mich.
For the first-time ever in WCHA play, Ferris State earned a victory over Minnesota State, as the Bulldogs won the opener in a series split with the defending league champs.
Friday night's game was a wild affair, with a combined six goals scored in the third period of an eventual 7-4, Ferris State victory. The teams traded the game's first four goals, before the Bulldogs opened up a 4-2 advantage 5:48 into the third period. Minnesota State would rally, however, tying the game on goals by Casey Nelson and freshman Max Coatta. Tied 4-4, Ferris State rattled off the game's final three goals over the last 9:21, receiving markers from Sean O'Rourke (his second of the contest and the game-winner), Chad McDonald and Matt Robertson (empty-netter). Bulldogs' junior forwards Gerald Mayhew (1g-2a) and Jared VanWormer (3a) each had three-point efforts in the win.
Saturday was also a taught affair, with Minnesota State's Zach Stepan scoring just 1:39 into the game for a 1-0 lead. Ferris State answered with goals by Kenny Babinski and Corey Mackin for a 2-1 advantage, but the Mavericks received goals from Nelson and Zeb Knutson (game-winner) late in the second period for the 3-2 win. Mavericks' goaltender Cole Huggins stopped all 13 shots he faced in the third period to secure the victory.