WCHA Week 8: League Front-Runners Meet In Mankato
First-place and No. 5/8 Minnesota State hosts second-place Bowling Green; UP schools Michigan Tech (at Alaska Anchorage) and No. 20 Northern Michigan (at Alaska) head to the Last Frontier, while UAH hosts Lake Superior State and Ferris State plays a nonconference home-and-home with Michigan State
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First-place and No. 5/8 Minnesota State hosts second-place Bowling Green

Opening Face-Off

- Mavericks and Wildcats in the Polls: Minnesota State, after a sweep at defending MacNaughton Cup champion Bemidji State, jumped five spots to No. 5 in the USCHO.com poll and rose three, to No. 8, in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings. Northern Michigan held steady at No. 20 in the former, and is still receiving votes in the latter, after a split with Michigan Tech.

  • The Mavericks, who have played the nation's fourth-toughest schedule to date, have won five of six and matched the 8-3-0, 11-game record of the 2014-05 squad that won the WCHA regular season and postseason championships.
  • The Wildcats have played the ninth-toughest schedule in the country and are 6-4-0 through 10 games.

- Falcon Season: Bowling Green travels to Mankato this weekend riding a seven-game unbeaten streak (4-0-3), matching Colgate for the longest active run in the country.

  • The Falcons, who are receiving votes in the USCHO.com poll, have posted three straight league weekends with at least four points, including back-to-back five-point series.
  • BGSU has received an impressive effort from its freshman class, which leads the WCHA and ranks second nationally with 33 points through 11 games (behind UMass). The Falcon freshmen also pace WCHA rookie groups with 11 goals and 22 assists. First-year goaltender Eric Dop (part of a successful tandem thus far with sophomore Ryan Bednard) is eighth in the country with a .932 save percentage and ninth with a 1.77 goals-against average.

- Experience Counts: Five of the top-six overall WCHA scoring leaders thus far are seniors. Minnesota State's C.J. Suess (4g-11a=15pts) and Lake Superior State's J.T. Henke (3-12=15) are tops, followed by the Mavericks' Zeb Knutson (6-8=14), Northern Michigan's Robbie Payne (9-3=12) and Bemidji State's Gerry Fitzgerald (3-9=12).

- Whitecloud at the Karjala Cup: Bemidji State sophomore defenseman and 2016-17 All-WCHA Rookie Team performer Zach Whitecloud was the only active NCAA player to skate for Canada in last week's Karjala Cup (Northeastern's Dylan Sikura was selected but did not play due to injury). Whitecloud contributed an assist in Canada's 3-2 victory over Switzerland.


By the Numbers

- 0.9: Of a second was left in regulation Saturday when UAH's Connor Merkley scored the game-tying goal against Alaska Anchorage. The freshman's heroics allowed the Chargers to earn a valuable WCHA point (UAA later won the shootout).

- 5: Games in which Ferris State has scored at least 3 goals -- all Bulldog wins, including each of their last three contests.

- 6: Points last weekend by NCAA 1st Star of the Week, Marc Michaelis. The Minnesota State sophomore had 5g-1a.

- 65: Goals scored across 10 WCHA games last weekend, the season's first full weekend of league games. The 14 goals scored in Minnesota State's 8-6 win at Bemidji State was the most in a WCHA contest since Feb. 8, 2014 (MTU over UAH, 10-4).

- 99: Consecutive games played by Minnesota State senior forward C.J. Suess. One of the Mavericks' tri-captains, Suess has played in 128 career contests, compiling 99 points (39g-60a).

- 1.000: NCAA-best winning percentage for Minnesota State senior goaltender Connor LaCouvee (6-0-0), matching Cornell's Matthew Galajda (5-0-0). This is LaCouvee's first campaign with the Mavericks after three seasons at Boston University.


The Week Ahead

- Leaders in Mankato: Early WCHA front-runners meet at the Verizon Center, as No. 5/8 (and-league-leading) Minnesota State hosts Bowling Green, which trails by a single point. The teams split Oct. 20-21 in Ohio, with the Falcons winning Saturday.

- Hockey Capital of the South: Unbeaten in its last three (2-0-1), UAH's six-game homestand continues vs. Lake Superior State.

- UP in the Last Frontier: No. 20 Northern Michigan faces Alaska in Fairbanks, while Michigan Tech begins a two-week trip in the 49th state by skating at Alaska Anchorage.

- Michigan Bragging Rights: Ferris State and Michigan State meet in a home-and-home set, with the 'Dawgs hosting Saturday.


The Week in Review

- After opening the season with an eight-game road trip, Alabama Huntsville enjoyed its homecoming with a four-point weekend against visiting Alaska Anchorage.

- Red-hot Minnesota State continued its climb in the national polls after heading north and coming away with a high-scoring sweep of host Bemidji State.

- Bowling Green looked to stay near the top of the WCHA table this weekend, and did so with a five-point weekend against visiting Lake Superior State.

- Ferris State extended its winning streak to three games with its first sweep of the year, a pair of victories over visiting WCHA foe Alaska.

- In a highly anticipated battle of UP rivals near the top of the conference standings, Michigan Tech and No. 20 Northern Michigan each used strong offensive and goaltending performances in front of full houses to pull out a home-ice victory.

- Full recaps and box scores, along with the "Inside the WCHA" highlights show, are available at wcha.com.


at Alabama Huntsville 5, Alaska Anchorage 1
Alaska Anchorage 3, at Alabama Huntsville 3 – OT (UAA wins shootout, 1-0)
(Nov. 10 and 11 at Von Braun Center; Huntsville, Alabama)

After opening the season with an eight-game road trip, Alabama Huntsville enjoyed its homecoming with a four-point weekend against visiting Alaska Anchorage.

UAH opened its home slate with a five-goal outburst, rolling to a 5-1 win in Friday's series opener. Brennan Saulnier scored the game's first two goals to propel the Chargers, freshman Levi Wunder tallied his first collegiate marker, while Christian Rajic and Madison Dunn also lit the lamp for UAH.

Saturday night was full of drama, as UAH's Connor Merkley tied the game with 0.9-second remaining in regulation for a 3-3 tie, before UAA earned the extra point with a shootout win. Regulation was a special teams contest, with all six goals scored on the power play. Nicolas Erb-Ekholm, Austin Azurdia and Tad Kozun scored to give UAA a 3-1 lead heading to the third period, before UAH forward Josh Kestner cut the lead in half with his second goal of the game 4:36 into the third period. Jeremiah Luedtke gave the Seawolves an extra point with the lone shootout goal.


No. 10/11 Minnesota State 5, at Bemidji State 2
No. 10/11 Minnesota State 8, at Bemidji State 6
(Nov. 10 and 11 at Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn.)

Red-hot Minnesota State continued its climb in the national polls after heading north and coming away with a high-scoring sweep of host Bemidji State.

Friday night, Minnesota State forward Marc Michaelis broke an early 1-1 tie, as well as securing the victory, with a hat trick to give the Mavericks a 5-2 victory. Michaelis' shorthanded goal midway through the second period stood as the game-winner, while goaltender Connor LaCouvee stayed undefeated with a 30-save performance.

It would be yet another Maverick forward who netted a hat trick the next night, as Max Coatta's three-goal effort sparked a wild, 8-6 Minnesota State win. The high-scoring affair featured two hat tricks, five lead changes and 22 players that recorded at least a point. Michaelis capped a five-goal weekend and gave the Mavericks the lead for good with 9:59 remaining in regulation, while Jake Jaremko's first collegiate goal sealed the outcome. LaCouvee stopped seven-of-eight shots in relief for his sixth win of the season. Bemidji State's Jay Dickman also scored three goals for his first career hat trick.


at Bowling Green 2, Lake Superior State 2 – OT (BGSU wins shootout, 1-0)
at Bowling Green 5, Lake Superior State 2
(Nov. 10 and 11 at Slater Family Ice Arena; Bowling Green, Ohio)

Bowling Green looked to stay near the top of the WCHA table this weekend, and did so with a five-point weekend against visiting Lake Superior State.

Friday night, BGSU used goals from a pair of freshman forwards (Max Johnson and Brandon Kruse) to build a 2-1 lead in the second. But the Lakers wouldn't go away quietly, as Anthony Nellis sent the game to OT with his fifth goal of the season in the third. After the teams remained tied after the extra periods, Falcon senior Mitch McLain scored the lone shootout goal to give his team the extra point.

Bowling Green's offense broke out the next night in a 5-2 victory. Stephen Baylis had a career-high four-point effort, with two goals -- including the game-winner -- and two assists. Baylis and McLain (two goals overall) each scored short-handed markers, while Cameron Wright had a power-play strike.


at Ferris State 3, Alaska 1
at Ferris State 5, Alaska 3
(Nov. 10 and 11 at Ewigleben Ice Arena; Big Rapids, Mich.)

Ferris State extended its winning streak to three games with its first sweep of the year, a pair of victories over visiting WCHA foe Alaska.

Friday night, the two teams stayed neck and neck early, both scoring in the first period off goals from defensemen (FSU's Cameron Clarke and UAF's James LaDouce). Bulldogs freshman Coale Norris broke the tie with a power-play goal in the second period, Mitch Maloney added an empty-netter and Ferris State won the opener, 3-1.

Led by a strong offensive effort, the Bulldogs fought off the Nanooks' push all night, while defenseman Nate Kallen netted two goals for the home team to take the sweep with a 5-3, Saturday night victory. WCHA Goaltender of the Week Justin Kapelmaster wrapped up a 53-save weekend with 31 stops.


at Michigan Tech 4, Northern Michigan 1
at Northern Michigan 4, Michigan Tech 0
(Nov. 10 at John MacInnes Student Ice Center; Houghton, Mich. and Nov. 11 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich.)

In a highly anticipated battle of UP rivals near the top of the conference standings, Michigan Tech and No. 20 Northern Michigan each used strong offensive and goaltending performances in front of full houses to pull out a home-ice victory.

In the opener, Brent Baltus led the Huskies on the offensive end with two goals, including the game-winner, while Patrick Munson did the rest in net with 20 saves to preserve a 4-1 MTU victory. A near-capacity crowd of 4,058 jammed the John MacInnes Student Ice Center to watch the home team win.

The script was flipped the next night, as NMU senior Robbie Payne netted his 8th and 9th goal of the season to lead the Wildcats to a 4-0 victory, with netminder Atte Tolvanen earning the 19-save shutout. There was also a capacity crowd on hand in Marquette, with 4,260 packing the Berry Events Center.