EDINA, Minn. – Feb. 13, 2017 – The NCAA's top goal-scorer last week, his teammate – a record-setting goaltender on a historic run – and, a MacNaughton Cup-winning defenseman highlight the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Players of the Week for games of Feb. 10-11, 2017. The honorees are: Northern Michigan junior forward Robbie Payne (Offensive Player of the Week); Northern Michigan sophomore goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Defensive Player of the Week) and Bemidji State freshman defenseman Zach Whitecloud. (Rookie of the Week).
Robbie Payne, Jr., F
Northern Michigan (Gaylord, Mich.)
Payne was the offensive complement to Defensive Player of the Week Atte Tolvanen's epic run, as his four goals matched Harvard's Ryan Donato for the NCAA lead last week. The junior from Gaylord, Mich., netted four of the Wildcats' five goals during a sweep of visiting Alaska, while he posted consecutive multi-goal contests for the first time in his career. In a 3-0, series-opening victory Friday night, Payne tallied even-strength markers in the second and third periods, extending what was a 1-0 Wildcat lead into the final margin. He then scored both NMU goals in Saturday's 2-0 triumph, finding the back of the net twice within a span of 3:03 late in the second period. The second of Payne's Saturday goals came on the power play, as he tied for second in the WCHA with a +3 rating. He also logged an impressive .444 shooting percentage, scoring his four goals on nine shots. Thanks partly to Payne's second WCHA weekly award of the 2016-17 season (and career), Northern Michigan climbed from ninth in the league standings into a tie for sixth.
Honorable Mention: Nate Arentz, Sr., F, Bemidji State (scored an unassisted goal and picked up the helper on the game-winning goal as the Beavers clinched the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular season champions with a 3-2 victory Friday at Alabama Huntsville); Mason Mitchell, So., F, Alaska Anchorage (helped the Seawolves to a four-point road weekend at LSSU with three goals, including the game-winner in a 3-2 triumph Friday); Anthony Nellis, So., F, Lake Superior State (scored both Lakers' goals in a 3-2 loss Friday to UAA, before adding an assist in a 4-4 tie Saturday); Brennan Saulnier, Jr., F, Alabama Huntsville (scored a goal in both games as the Chargers split with visiting Bemidji State, while he also added an assist in Saturday's 5-2 victory); Reid Sturos, Sr., F, Michigan Tech (was named Winter Carnival MVP after scoring two goals in the Huskies' 5-2 win Saturday over Ferris State, a win that gave Tech the MacInnes Cup); Jared VanWormer, Sr., F, Ferris State (continued his career-best offensive season with a team-high three points, scoring two goals and adding an assist as the Bulldogs split at Michigan Tech).
Atte Tolvanen, So., G
Northern Michigan (Vihti, Finland)
Tolvanen continued his historical run of goaltending brilliance with two more clean sheets, in the process setting an all-time WCHA record and matching the NCAA Division I men's mark with five-straight shutouts. While blanking Alaska on consecutive nights last weekend, Tolvanen also led all NCAA goaltenders with 87 saves. The sophomore from Vihti, Finland turned aside 39 shots in a 3-0 Northern Michigan victory Friday night, then made a career-high 48 stops Saturday to give the Wildcats a 2-0 triumph and series sweep. Tolvanen matched the 63-year-old WCHA record, originally set by North Dakota's Gerald "Spike" Shultz in 1954, with his fourth-straight whitewash; then, the sophomore equaled the Division I men's standard of five-consecutive shutouts established by Lake Superior State's Blaine Lacher in 1994. Also during Friday's contest, the Finn set the WCHA record for consecutive scoreless minutes with a streak that is currently at 335:39 and counting – surpassing Wisconsin netminder Brian Elliott's 2006 run of 269:51 and trailing only Lachler's 375:01 in NCAA Division I men's history. Tolvanen's sustained excellence, which has resulted in three WCHA weekly awards in the last month, has coincided with a nine-game unbeaten streak (7-0-2) that has vaulted Northern Michigan from 10th place in the WCHA standings all the way up into a tie for sixth. Tolvanen now has received seven career WCHA weekly honors, including three Rookie of the Week accolades.
Honorable Mention: Kris Bindulis, Fr., D, Lake Superior State (blocked seven shots and tied for the league lead in points by a defenseman with two assists Saturday as the Lakers tied visiting Alaska Anchorage, 4-4, before scoring in 3-on-3 overtime); Cameron Clarke, Fr., D, Ferris State (Boston Bruins' draft pick had a pair of assists in the Bulldogs' 3-2 win Friday at Michigan Tech, while adding five blocked shots on the weekend); Chris Nell, Jr., G, Bowling Green (backstopped the Falcons to a 3-0 win over Mercyhurst during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Slater Family Ice Arena, making 22 stops to extend his own school record with his ninth career shutout).
Zach Whitecloud, Fr., D
Bemidji State (Brandon, Manitoba)
One of six league rookies with multi-point weekends, Whitecloud had a key assist in a 3-2 victory Friday night as Bemidji State clinched the 2016-17 WCHA regular season title. With the Beavers clinging to a 1-0 lead 1:15 into the third period, Whitecloud picked up a helper on Gerry Fitzgerald's power-play goal. BSU built a 3-0 lead and held on to hoist the MacNaughton Cup for the first time in the program's seven WCHA seasons. The freshman from Brandon, Manitoba then added another power-play assist during Saturday's loss, helping the Beavers finish the weekend 3-for-10 on the man advantage. He finished the weekend with a pair of blocked shots and four shots on goal. This is the second WCHA weekly award of Whitecloud's freshman season.
Honorable Mention: Justin Kapelmaster, Fr., G, Ferris State (made 61 saves in the Bulldogs' split at Michigan Tech, including 39 stops in a 3-2 victory Friday); Luke Morgan, Fr., F, Lake Superior State (the only WCHA freshman with both a goal and assist last weekend, he ran his scoring streak to six-straight games for the Lakers).