- At the Polls: League-leading Bemidji State and two-time defending MacNaughton Cup champion Minnesota State continue to carry the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) banner in the national opinion polls.
- The Beavers are now No. 13 in the USCHO.com poll and No. 15 in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine top-15, while the Mavericks are No. 16 in the former and receiving votes in the latter. Michigan Tech is receiving votes in the USCHO.com poll.
- Winning Hockey: Five (5) WCHA teams rank in the top-15 nationally for most victories: Bemidji State is tied for second with 12, Michigan Tech is tied for fifth with 10, Minnesota State is tied for ninth with nine, and, Bowling Green and Lake Superior State are each tied for 14th with eight.
- Michigan Tech has all of its wins in its last 16 games, posting the country's eighth-best winning percentage (.719, 10-3-3) since Oct. 14. The Huskies and Bowling Green are each tied for fifth in the NCAA since Nov. 1 with a .750 winning mark (7-2-1).
- Working Overtime: Alaska is the first team to come out ahead in all three levels of the WCHA's new overtime format; more impressively, the Nanooks have achieved the feat all on the road. UAF won 4-3 in overtime Oct. 29 at Lake Superior State, scored in the 3-on-3, second overtime period for the extra league point Nov. 11 at Alabama Huntsville; and, won the shootout for an extra point Dec. 3 at Minnesota State.
- Hats Off: Three WCHA skaters recorded hat tricks last weekend. Some fun facts about the trio:
- Minnesota State freshman Marc Michaelis' first career hat trick (Friday night) was the first by a WCHA rookie since his teammate, Brad McClure, scored three times against Michigan Tech in the 2015 Broadmoor Trophy championship game.
- Alabama Huntsville sophomore Kurt Gosselin turned in his first career three-goal performance Saturday night, the first by a men's D-I defenseman this season and the first by a WCHA blue-liner since Dec. 17, 2011 (St. Cloud State's Nick Jensen).
- Saturday night, Bowling Green junior Mitch McLain became the first WCHA player with multiple hat tricks in the same season since Colorado College's Rylan Schwartz had three during the 2011-12 campaign.
- Gosselin and McLain became the first WCHA pair with hat tricks on the same night since Alaska Anchorage's Brett Cameron (four goals) and Minnesota State's Dylan Margonari on Dec. 6, 2014.
- The Kids Are Alright: Three WCHA freshmen are among the NCAA's top-20 rookies for points-per-game, while two goaltenders rank in the top-20 overall for goals-against average, save percentage and winning percentage.
- Minnesota State's Marc Michaelis, who leads the WCHA with 17 points in conference play (9g-8a) and 21 points overall (9g-12a), ranks fourth nationally with 1.31 points-per-game. Ferris State's Craig Pefley, the league's Rookie of the Month for October, is 11th among NCAA freshmen with 0.94 points-per-contest (3g-12a=15pts). Bowling Green defenseman Alec Rauhauser averages 0.81 points-per-game (2g-11a=13pts), 19th-best nationally.
- Michigan Tech's Angus Redmond is first (1.47), tied for sixth (.932) and eighth (.792), respectively, in goals-against average, save percentage and winning percentage. Ferris State's Justin Kapelmaster is 13th (2.19), eighth (.932) and fifth (.833).
- Tradition Starts Here: 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 ranks fourth nationally with 85 wins, Michigan Tech is 10th with 76, Ferris State is 13th with 73 and Bowling Green is tied for 14th with 71.
By the Numbers
- 5.48: Combined goals-per-game in WCHA play (340 in 62 contests), up 10.0 percent from the final 2015-16 tally of 4.98 (697 goals in 140 games).
- 8: Categories in which Bemidji State junior goaltender Michael Bitzer ranks among the top-10 nationally: Wins (1st - 12), games (1st - 17), starts (t1st - 17), minutes (1st - 1021:47), goals-against average (2nd - 1.47), save percentage (2nd - .940), saves (t7th - 393) and shutouts (t2nd - 3). He sits in 11th with a .735 winning percentage (12-4-1).
- 13: Undefeated streak in WCHA play by Bemidji State (12-0-1) before a loss last Saturday; the run was tied for the fifth-longest single-season stretch, by games, in league history (behind streaks of 19, 18, 15 and 14 contests, achieved by a combined seven teams).
The Week Ahead
- Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup: The Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup gets underway in Fairbanks, with the Nanooks hosting the Seawolves.
- Elsewhere Around the WCHA: Michigan Tech (10-3-3 in its last 16 games) visits Bowling Green (8-2-1 in its last 10 contests); Ferris State, which split in Mankato Oct. 28-29, hosts No. 16 Minnesota State; Alabama Huntsville travels to Northern Michigan; and, No. 13 Bemidji State entertains Lake Superior State.
The Week in Review
- The first weekend of all-WCHA play saw four splits in five series, as only Minnesota State earned the majority of available points.
- A tightly-contested matchup of league front-runners resulted in a win for each team, as No. 13 Bemidji State won the opener before host Michigan Tech handed the Beavers their first WCHA loss of the season.
- A third-period outburst made the difference each night, with Lake Superior State winning the opener and visiting Bowling Green earning the split with a Saturday night triumph.
- A combined 20 goals were scored on the weekend, with No. 15 Minnesota State scoring enough of them to earn four points from visiting Alaska.
- Alaska Anchorage earned its first WCHA win of the season, while visiting Northern Michigan earned the split with a Saturday night victory.
- Alabama Huntsville ran its winning streak against Ferris State to three games with a win Saturday night, before the visiting Bulldogs bounced back with a win Sunday.
- Full recaps, box scores and select video highlights are available at wcha.com.
No. 13 Bemidji State 3, at Michigan Tech 1
at Michigan Tech 2, No. 13 Bemidji State 1
(Dec. 2 and 3 at John MacInnes Ice Arena; Houghton, Mich.)
A tightly-contested matchup of league front-runners resulted in a win for each team, as No. 13 Bemidji State won the opener before host Michigan Tech handed the Beavers their first WCHA loss of the season.
Friday night, Bemidji State ran its season-opening league unbeaten streak to 13 games with a 3-1 win. Both goaltenders were exceptional, as Michael Bitzer made 26 saves for the Beavers, while on the other end Angus Redmond made 22 stops for the Huskies. Michigan Tech got on the board first off the stick of Mike Neville 11:36 into the first period. BSU, however, came back less than a minute later as Leo Fitzgerald's third goal of the season tied things up. The teams remained deadlocked until the Beavers' Kyle Bauman scored the short-handed game-winner 5:15 into the second-period. Charlie O'Connor added an empty-net strike and Bitzer stood tall late.
Saturday night, the Huskies used some late-game heroics to hand the Beavers their first loss in WCHA play. Michigan Tech defenseman Chris Leibinger got his team on the board first at the 5:56 mark of the opening frame with his sixth goal of the season. O'Connor scored for the Beavers to tie things up at the end of the second period. But, Neville pushed his team to victory with his second goal of the weekend, the tie-breaking, game-winning score with less than four minutes to play to give Tech the 2-1 win. Bitzer finished with 32 saves, while Redmond made 17 stops.
at Lake Superior State 4, Bowling Green 2
Bowling Green 5, Lake Superior State 2
(Dec. 2 and 3 at Taffy Abel Arena; Sault Ste. Marie)
A third-period outburst made the difference each night, with Lake Superior State winning the opener and visiting Bowling Green earning the split with a Saturday night triumph.
Sean Walker's first-period goal gave Bowling Green a 1-0 lead heading into the third period Friday, before the host Lakers struck four times for a 4-2 win. Freshman Luke Morgan tied it up, fellow rookie Max Humitz scored the game-winner, while Matt McArdle and Mitch Hults each had a pair of assists. Anthony Nellis also scored for LSSU during the period, while Diego Cuglietta's short-handed goal salted the game away.
Saturday, the Falcons were the ones who got hot in the final frame, snapping a 2-2 tie with three third-period goals. Mitch McLain traded goals with LSSU's Brayden Gelsinger and Gage Torrel to create the 2-2 deadlock. Freshman Lukas Craggs got the Falcons going in the third with the game-winner, coming short-handed at the 5:44 mark. Kevin Dufour also scored, then McLain capped his second hat trick of the season with an empty-net strike.
at No. 15 Minnesota State 7, Alaska 3
Alaska 5, at No. 15 Minnesota State 5 - OT (UAF wins shootout, 2-1 in 6 rounds)
(Dec. 2 and 3 at Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn.)
A combined 20 goals were scored on the weekend, with No. 15 Minnesota State scoring enough of them to earn four points from visiting Alaska.
The tone was set in the first period Friday, which ended with the Mavericks on top 3-2 en route to a 7-3 win. Minnesota State freshman Marc Michaelis recorded his first career hat trick and added an assist, while defenseman Daniel Brickley scored and had an assist in his first game back from injury. Alaska pulled within 4-3 entering the third period, but the Mavericks pulled away with three unanswered goals in the final stanza.
Saturday, the Nanooks looked aggressive to avenge their loss the night before, scoring three first period goals as forward Chad Staley got things going with his fifth goal of the season. But the Mavericks came out of the break firing, as Brad McClure opened up the scoring 26 seconds into the second period and Minnesota State put three more goals in the net to head into the locker room with a 4-3 lead. Alaska answered back in the third, as Troy Van Tetering and Staley gave the Nanooks a 5-4 advantage two minutes into the frame. The Mavericks tied things up again as C.J. Franklin got his fifth goal of the season at the 9:33 mark. The score stayed tied through overtime, while the Nanooks got the extra point with a 2-1, six-round shootout victory. Alaska goaltender Davis Jones finished with 48 saves through 65 minutes, matching a career high.
at Alaska Anchorage 5, Northern Michigan 3
Northern Michigan 4, at Alaska Anchorage 1
(Dec. 2 and 3 at Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Alaska)
Alaska Anchorage earned its first WCHA win of the season, while visiting Northern Michigan earned the split with a Saturday night victory.
Friday, the teams remained locked at zeros until the last 11 seconds of the first, when James Vermeulen gave NMU the 1-0 lead heading to the dressing room. The Seawolves rattled off three unanswered goals spanning the second and third period (by Jonah Renouf, Jarret Brown and Matt Anholt), before NMU responded at the 6:10 point in the third to cut the lead to one. But Seawolves senior Chase Van Allen would put the game away with his first goal of the season, giving UAA a 5-3 victory and its first conference win of the season.
Saturday night, the Wildcats rode sophomore goaltender Atte Tolvanen to a 4-1 victory. Tolvanen made 29 saves overall, while Troy Loggins and Brock Maschmeyer gave Northern Michigan a 2-0 lead. After Tad Kozun cut the lead in half five minutes into the third, Robbie Payne and Dominik Shine scored for the final three-goal margin.
at Alabama Huntsville 5, Ferris State 3
Ferris State 3, at Alabama Huntsville 1
(Dec. 3 and 4 at Von Braun Center; Huntsville, Ala.)
Alabama Huntsville ran its winning streak against Ferris State to three games with a win Saturday night, before the visiting Bulldogs bounced back with a win Sunday.
Saturday, the fans at the Von Braun Center were witnesses to history, as sophomore defenseman Kurt Gosselin recorded the first hat trick for the Chargers since 2008. After the Bulldogs got on the board first, Gosselin netted two goals in the span of two minutes in the first period to give his team the lead. After FSU tied things up in the second, Jason Tackett added his first career goal to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead heading into the final period. Gosselin again brought UAH even with his third goal, marking the first hat trick by a NCAA defenseman this season, the first by a WCHA defenseman since 2011 and the first by a Chargers' blue-liner since 1999. Hans Gorowsky put UAH ahead at the 5:22 mark, and Cam Knight added an empty-netter for the 5-3 victory.
Saturday, the Bulldogs came roaring out of the gate, as Jared VanWormer got his fourth goal of the season 34 seconds into the contest. Freshman Taylor Fernandez pushed the lead to two 10 minutes later, which would prove to be the game-winning goal. The Chargers added their lone goal off the stick of Brandon Parker to cut the lead in half, but the Bulldogs held on to take the 3-1 victory. Ferris State goaltender Darren Smith made 16 saves for his first win of the season.