- Let's Get it Started: After three men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) teams dropped the puck on the Association's 65th season last weekend, six more take the ice for their regular season debuts this weekend.
- Preseason Polls: Four WCHA teams were ranked in the USCHO top-20 preseason poll, mirroring their projected league finish in the coaches' and media polls: No. 14 Bowling Green, No. 17 Michigan Tech, No. 19 Minnesota State and No. 20 Ferris State. The Falcons are also the 15th-ranked team in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine poll.
- Charging Ahead: Alabama Huntsville opened the campaign with their strongest start of the WCHA era, sweeping Ferris State on the road to earn the first six points of the league season. The wins marked UAH's first-ever sweep of a ranked opponent, was the program's first conference-opening sweep and gave the Chargers a 2-0 start for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
- 4x20: With four separate 20-win teams for the first time since realignment, the WCHA in 2015-16 was one of just two Division I conferences to have at least that many (Hockey East led the country with five, 20-win teams).
- Michigan Tech (23-9-5), Bowling Green (22-14-6), Minnesota State (21-13-7) and Ferris State (20-15-6) formed the WCHA's 20-win quartet.
- Among the Best: Four (4) of the nation's top-15 winningest teams over the past three seasons play in the WCHA - the highest representation among that upper 25% of programs of any D-I conference since realignment (Hockey East and the NCHC each have three teams apiece, the Big Ten and ECAC Hockey both have two each and Atlantic Hockey has a single program).
- Minnesota State is fourth nationally with 76 wins, Ferris State is tied for 10th with 67, Michigan Tech is 12th with 66 and Bowling Green is 15th with 63.
By the Numbers
- 2: Wins for Alabama Huntsville after opening weekend, matching the entire season and WCHA total that UAH's current seniors had during their freshman campaign, the Chargers' first in the league (2013-14).
- 10: Career shutouts for Bemidji State junior Michael Bitzer and Minnesota State senior Cole Huggins, tied for the most among active NCAA goaltenders entering the season.
- 15: Consecutive season-openers without a loss for Alaska Anchorage, which is 12-0-3 to start a campaign since the 2001-02 season.
- 38: Career wins for Huggins, second among active NCAA netminders (behind Colgate's Charlie Finn, who has 47).
The Week Ahead
- Cup Co-Champs Meet: No. 17 Michigan Tech and No. 19 Minnesota State, defending WCHA regular season co-champions, open their respective league slates this weekend in Mankato. Tech won last year's season series, 1-0-1 (played in Houghton).
- Preseason Favorites Open: No. 14/15 Bowling Green, the coaches' and media's preseason pick to win the WCHA, opens this weekend at Bemidji State. The teams met in a thrilling three-game WCHA quarterfinal series last spring, with BGSU advancing to the Final Five.
- Raising the Banner: Prior to its Thursday night home game against Western Michigan, Ferris State will raise the banner commemorating its 2016 Broadmoor Trophy title as WCHA playoff champion. The Bulldogs will play at WMU Friday to complete the home-and-home.
- WCHA vs. Big Ten: Four games against Big Ten opponents await, including Northern Michigan hosting Wisconsin at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis. Both Alaska Anchorage and Alaska will play No. 13/11 Minnesota this weekend in Anchorage.
- Interconference Nonconference: In addition to playing the Gophers, Alaska Anchorage and Alaska will meet Saturday in a rare nonconference matchup between WCHA teams.
- Nonconference Road Test: Alabama Huntsville will look to continue its hot start with a two-game series at Hockey East foe Connecticut.
The Week in Review
- Alabama Huntsville opened the season with a two-game sweep at reigning Broadmoor Trophy champion Ferris State.
- No. 17 Michigan Tech started with a nonconference series at No. 6 Minnesota Duluth.
- Alaska Anchorage, Alaska, Bowling Green, Lake Superior State, Minnesota State and Northern Michigan all played exhibition contests.
- Full recaps, box scores and select video highlights are available online at wcha.com.
Alabama Huntsville 2, at No. 20 Ferris State 1
Alabama Huntsville 4, at No. 20 Ferris State 3
(Oct. 1 and 2 at Ewigleben Arena; Big Rapids, Mich.)
For the first time ever, Alabama Huntsville posted a sweep of a ranked opponent, opening a season 2-0 for the first time since 2001-02 with a pair of wins at No. 20 Ferris State.
WCHA Defensive Player of the Week Matt Larose was the story in Saturday's season-opener, making 37 saves in the 2-1 UAH victory. He stopped all 20 shots he faced in the third period, making Hans Gorowksy's tie-breaking, second period goal stand as the game-winner. Max McHugh also scored for the Chargers, while Ferris State received a goal from Mitch Maloney and 24 saves from Darren Smith.
Sunday was another tightly-contested game, with UAH's three-straight goals from the middle of the second period into the third standing as the difference. Trailing 2-1, the Chargers received scores from Brent Fletcher (11:04 of the second), WCHA Offensive Player of the Week McHugh (17:21 of the second) and Brennan Saulnier (6:33 of the third). The Bulldogs' Gerald Mayhew scored his second of the game to make it 4-3 with less than three minutes remaining, but FSU could get no closer. Larose made another 30 saves, while Ferris State redshirt freshman Craig Pefley completed a three-assist series that earned him WCHA Rookie of the Week honors.
No. 6 Minnesota Duluth 6, No. 17 Michigan Tech 0
No. 6 Minnesota Duluth 4, No. 17 Michigan Tech 3
(Oct 1 and 2 at AMSOIL Arena; Duluth, Minn.)
No. 17 Michigan Tech rebounded from a tough opening-night loss to hold a pair of two-goal leads in Sunday's finale, but eventually dropped both games at No. 6 Minnesota Duluth.
After dropping a 6-0 decision Saturday, the Huskies scored the game's first two goals Sunday, with Reid Sturos and Tyler Heinonen giving Tech a first-period lead. Joel L'Esperance put Tech on top 3-1 with a second-period score, but UMD scored the game's final three goals for the 4-3 win. Sophomore goaltender Devin Kero, who made 10 saves in relief on Saturday (including stopping a UMD penalty shot), made his first career start Sunday and turned aside 27-of-31 shots (including stopping a pair of breakaways).
at Alaska Anchorage 6, Simon Fraser 1 (Exhibition)
(Sept. 30 at Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Alaska)
Six different players scored goals as Alaska Anchorage defeated visiting Simon Fraser, 6-1 in exhibition play.
Jeremiah Luedtke, Corey Renwick, Jonah Renouf, Aleksi Ainali, Matt Anholt and Austin Azurdia scored goals for the Seawolves, who owned a 28-18 advantage in shots.
The Renuof twins of Jonah (1g-2a) and Nathan (2a) had big games in their UAA debuts, while Rasmus Reijoa, Olivier Mantha and Evan Hauser split time in net.
at Alaska 2, Simon Fraser 0 (Exhibition)
(Oct. 2 at Carlson Center; Fairbanks, Alaska)
Alaska received goals from underclassmen Kylar Hope (freshman) and Chad Staley (sophomore) en route to a 2-0 exhibition victory over visiting Simon Fraser.
Davis Jones (11 saves), Jesse Jenks (7) and Niko DellaMaggiore (2) combined on the 20-save shutout for the Nanooks, who scored both goals in the second period. at No. 14 Bowling Green 3, Windsor 2 (Exhibition) (Oct. 1 at BGSU Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio)
Junior Brett D'Andrea scored back-to-back second-period goals to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead, and Kevin Dufour added a power-play strike later in the period as No. 14 Bowling Green earned a 3-2 exhibition win over visiting Windsor.
The game featured a combined 26 power-play opportunities. Senior goaltender Tomas Sholl played the entire game for the Falcons, making 21 saves.
at Lake Superior State 3, Laurentian 3 (Laurentian wins shootout, 1-0) (Exh.)
(Oct. 2 at Taffy Abel Arena; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.)
Lake Superior State got extra work in during an exhibition contest, tying visiting Laurentian 3-3 in a contest that featured a 3-on-3 overtime and a shootout (won by the Voyagers, 1-0 in the third round).
Luke Morgan, Mitch Hults and J.T. Henke all scored for the Lakers, with Henke's goal giving LSSU a 3-2, third-period lead. Sophomore Nick Kossoff played the entire game in goal for LSSU, making 18 saves.
at No. 19 Minnesota State 5, Regina 3
(Oct. 1 at Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn.)
After trailing 1-0 early, No. 19 Minnesota State scored the next four goals and added an insurance marker late for a 5-3 win over visiting Regina in exhibition action.
Brad McClure scored twice for the Mavericks, while Zeb Knutson, Jordan Nelson and Marc Michaelis (power-play game-winner) also found the back of the net. Cole Huggins, Jason Pawloski and Aaron Nelson all split time in the Minnesota State net.
at Northern Michigan 10, Victoria 1
(Oct. 2 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich.)
Eight different players had multi-point outings as Northern Michigan rolled to a 10-1, exhibition victory over Victoria.
Robbie Payne had five points on a goal and four assists for the Wildcats, while Sami Salminen (2g-1a), Zach Diamantoni (2g-1a), Philip Beaulieu (1g-2a), Casey Purpur (1g-2a), Darien Craighead (3a), Jordan Klimek (1g-1a) and Brock Maschmeyer (2a) also had multi-point outings. Atte Tolvanen and Mathias Israelsson both logged time in net.