WCHA Weekend Preview: Jan. 21 - 23, 2016
News and notes for the upcoming weekend of WCHA hockey
Bowling Green hosts Alaska Anchorage starting on Thursday night

Opening Face-Off

- Three WCHA Teams in USCHO.com Top 20: For the first time since the Oct. 12 poll, the WCHA has three teams in the USCHO.com rankings: No. 17 Michigan Tech, No. 18 Bowling Green and No. 20 Minnesota State.

- Winning Hockey: The WCHA has 60 percent of its membership (six of 10 teams) playing .500-or-better hockey, the third-best league-wide distribution among all NCAA conferences (ECAC Hockey has nine of 12 for 75 percent, while the NCHC has five of eight for 62.5 percent).

- Competitive Balance: Seventeen (17) of the first 44 WCHA series this season have resulted in splits, with an additional four ending in a pair of ties. There have been just 14 league sweeps to date, along with nine three-point weekends. As a result, three teams are within three points at the top of the WCHA standings, six points separates first place from fourth, and there is just a five-point gap between fourth place and the current two-way tie for eighth.

- Don't Leave Your Seats: Forty-seven (47) of the first 88 WCHA games have been either ties (17) or one-goal decisions (30), with 26 overtime contests. Twenty-one (21) league games have featured a tie-breaking, third-period game-winning goal (including seven in the last five minutes of regulation), with an additional nine victories coming in overtime.

- Ringing in the New Year: Bemidji State is unbeaten in six games (5-0-1) since the calendar flipped to 2016, moving above .500 (10-9-4) for the first time since Oct. 16 (1-0-1). The Beavers are tied with Dartmouth and RIT for the most wins in the country since Jan. 1, while their .917 winning percentage ranks second nationally (Massachusetts Lowell is 3-0-0).

- Quickly Around the WCHA: Over his last three starts (since Dec. 18), UAH junior G Matt Larose has gone 2-0-1 with a 1.51 GAA and .957 save percentage (while averaging 36.3 stops per contest) ... UAA's 14 league points are already two more than they had all of last season (12) ... UAF senior Fs Nolan Huysmans (3g-5a) and Tyler Morley (4g-4a) are part of a three-way tie for the WCHA points lead in January with eight apiece ... BSU sophomore F Gerry Fitzgerald has a six-game point streak (4g-4a--8pts) since returning from injury Jan. 2, while sophomore G Michael Bitzer is 4-0-1 with a 0.98 GAA and .958 save percentage in five starts since Jan. 3 ... BGSU has played an inordinate amount of close games in its first 25 contests, including eight overtime games (2-1-5), six decided in regulation by one goal (3-3) and seven two-goal affairs (5-2) ... FSU is one of two WCHA teams (MTU) with 10 different double-digit scorers, including senior D Simon Denis (4g-6a--10pts) - the Bulldogs' lone holdover from their 2012 Frozen Four team ... All nine of LSSU's game-winning goals have been scored by freshmen, while Lakers' rookies have 68 combined points - tied for most among any WCHA class (FSU's juniors) ... MTU senior F Alex Petan leads the league with 12 goals and 21 points in league play ... MSU has not allowed a power-play goal in the last 10 games, killing off 31-straight penalties ... NMU senior G Mathias Dahlström earned the win Saturday against Alaska (35 saves, including 20 in the third period), his first start since Oct. 16 and just his second since suffering an in-game injury Jan. 30, 2015.


- All six (6) WCHA games this weekend can be viewed live (or archived) via WCHA.tv.

All rankings listed by USCHO.com poll first, followed by USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll


Alaska Anchorage (6-8-2, 14 pts. WCHA / 9-10-3) at No. 19 Bowling Green (9-3-4, 22 pts. WCHA / 13-7-5)
BGSU Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio – Thurs., Jan. 21 and Fri., Jan. 22 (7:07 p.m. ET both nights)

- Alaska Anchorage continues its two-week stay in the Lower 48 with a trip to Ohio to face 19th-ranked Bowling Green in a rare Thursday-Friday series.

- UAA split last weekend at Lake Superior State, while BGSU lost a nonconference game at Miami.

- Seawolves' senior F Blake Tatchell is three points shy of becoming the 23rd UAA player ever to reach the 100-point plateau. He is tied for sixth in the WCHA with 18 points (5g-13a).

- BGSU goaltender Chris Nell ranks second nationally with a .946 save percentage and third with a 1.41 goals against average – both tops in the WCHA. He is a big reason why the Falcons have held their opponents to three goals-or-less in 19-straight games and rank fifth in the country by yielding just 1.84 goals per game.

- The Falcons are 4-0-4 at home in league play this season, but are hosting a WCHA opponent for the first time since Dec. 4-5.

- The teams split a series in Anchorage on Oct. 30 (UAA, 4-2) and Nov. 1 (BGSU, 2-0).

Ferris State (8-7-3, 19 pts. WCHA / 10-9-5) at Bemidji State (7-8-3, 17 pts. / 10-9-4)
Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn. – Fri., Jan. 22 (7:37 p.m. CT) and Sat., Jan. 23 (7:07 p.m. CT)

- Fourth place in the WCHA standings is on the line as Ferris State, currently in that position with 19 points, visits Bemidji State (currently in sixth place with 17 points).

- Last weekend, Ferris State earned three points from Alabama Huntsville and Bemidji State ran its unbeaten streak to six games (5-0-1) with a nonconference home sweep of Arizona State.

- Ferris State has earned at least two points in all nine WCHA series it has played this season.

- Bulldogs' senior D Simon Denis (1g-4a—5pts) and junior F Jared VanWormer (2g-2a—4pts) have both scored in all four FSU games in January.

- BSU is averaging 4.17 goals per game in January and has outscored its opponents by an average of 2.50 goals per contest, tied for the third-best mark in the country. Sophomore G Michael Bitzer has a 0.98 goals-against average and .958 save percentage in five games this month.

- Over the last two seasons (2014-15 and 2015-16), BSU is 16-7-3 after Jan. 1 (16-5-3 in regular season contests).

- Ferris State holds a 13-7-1 advantage in the all-time series, which began in 1999 (the teams split Dec. 4-5 in Big Rapids). In the Bulldogs' last visit to the Sanford Center, they earned a two-game sweep in the 2015 WCHA Playoffs – including an epic, triple-OT win in Game Two.

Lake Superior State (6-6-4, 16 pts. WCHA / 9-13-4) at No. 20 Minnesota State (10-3-5, 25 pts. WCHA / 11-8-5)
Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn. – Fri., Jan. 22 and Sat., Jan. 23 (7:07 p.m. CT both nights)

- No. 20 Minnesota State returns home, where the Mavericks are 7-1-0 in WCHA play this season, to face a Lake Superior State team that is 6-4-2 in its last 12 league games.

- The Lakers earned a home split last weekend against Alaska Anchorage, while Minnesota State was held to just one league point at Michigan Tech.

- All nine of LSSU's game-winning goals have been scored by freshmen, while Lakers' rookies have 68 combined points - tied for most among any WCHA class (FSU's juniors).

- Lakers' F Mitch Hults ranks second in goals (6) and points (6) among WCHA freshmen and has the most faceoff wins (213).

- MSU senior F Teddy Blueger leads the team in points (5-13 – 18), and has posted 11 points in the last nine games (2g-9a).

- The Mavericks, who have outshot their opponents in 18 of their 24 games on the season, rank first in the nation for fewest shots on goal allowed per game (21.9) and rank third in shots on goal margin with a +11.3 SOGM mark.

- Minnesota State went 6-0-0 vs. LSSU last season (including a sweep in the 2015 WCHA playoffs) and is 8-0-0 in the all-time series dating back to the 2013-14 season.