WCHA Week 2: Now The Fun Really Begins
EIGHT WCHA SCHOOLS SKATE THIS WEEKEND IN NONCONFERENCE GAMES
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Michigan Tech will represent the WCHA at the annual Ice Breaker Tournament

Opening Face-Off

- Now the Fun Really Starts: Following some exhibition-game appetizers and the season-opening U.S. Hall of Fame Game for Michigan Tech, the first nearly-full weekend of regular season competition is coming up for the Men's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). Eight of the league's member schools will be in action for nonconference games.

- Among the Best: Three (3) of the nation's top-15 winningest teams since 2013-14 play in the WCHA -- matching Hockey East for the second-highest representation among that upper 25 percent of any conference since realignment (the NCHC has four teams, Atlantic Hockey and ECAC Hockey have two apiece, and the Big Ten has a single program).

  • Minnesota State is tied for fifth nationally over the last four seasons with 98 wins, Michigan Tech is tied for ninth with 89 and Bowling Green is tied for 13th with 84.
  • The WCHA also has four teams in the top-20 since realignment, matching the NCHC for the second-most among the upper-third of the country's 60 programs (Hockey East, counting Notre Dame, leads the way with five). Ferris State ranks 18th with 80 victories since 2013-14.

- Mavericks Open as Favorites: Minnesota State -- which is also tied for fourth nationally with 122 victories over the past five seasons -- is the heavy preseason league favorite in 2017-18, grabbing all nine possible first-place votes in the Mankato Free Press WCHA Coaches' poll and 12 of 14 in the UAHHockey.com WCHA Media poll (full results are available on Page 2).

  • The Mavericks are also 18th in the USCHO.com preseason poll and 15th in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine preseason rankings. Michigan Tech is receiving votes in both polls, while Bemidji State, Bowling Green and Ferris State all collected votes in the USCHO.com ledger.

- Taking the Reins in Fairbanks, Houghton and Marquette: After the same 10 WCHA head coaches guided their programs over the last four seasons, three enter 2017-18 with a new bench boss: Alaska (Lance West), Michigan Tech (Joe Shawhan) and Northern Michigan (Grant Potulny).


By the Numbers

- 100: Returning goals for Minnesota State, tied with Notre Dame for the seventh-most nationally. The Mavericks lost just 19 goals from their 22-win team a year ago, including double-digit lamp-lighters Zeb Knutson (15), Brad McClure (14), Marc Michaelis (14) and C.J. Suess (12).

- 999: Games in program history for Alabama Huntsville, which joined the NCAA ranks as a Division II team in 1986. The Chargers will play their 1,000th all-time contest in Friday's season opener at Notre Dame.


The Week Ahead

- Ice Breaker Tournament: The WCHA returns to the Ice Breaker Tournament for just the second time in the last five years (Lake Superior State in 2015), as Michigan Tech will play in the 21st annual event. The Huskies open at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minn. against No. 16 Union on Friday, and will face either No. 3 Minnesota or host Minnesota Duluth (No. 6/11) on Saturday.

- Nonconference Tests: Including the Ice Breaker field, nine of the WCHA's 11 nonconference games come against ranked opponents. Alabama Huntsville opens its season at No. 8 Notre Dame, Alaska Anchorage hosts No. 7 North Dakota and Alaska welcomes No. 17 Air Force, while No. 18/15 Minnesota State plays a single contest against visiting No. 9/6 St. Cloud State.

- Lake Superior State vs. Northern Michigan: With just one official WCHA league series scheduled between the UP rivals in 2017-18, the Lakers and Wildcats will meet for a home-and-home, nonconference set as part of the annual Cappo Cup.

- Bowling Green Exhibition: Bowling Green will face some of the nation's top young talent, hosting the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP) this Saturday night. The Falcons skate at Western Michigan next Tuesday (Oct. 10).