BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Nov. 20, 2017 – A pair of three-goal performances, clutch scoring from the blue line and a yeoman's effort in net highlight the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Players of the Week for games of Nov. 17-18, 2017. The honorees are: Northern Michigan senior Robbie Payne (Offensive), Bowling Green sophomore Alec Rauhauser (Defensive), Alaska Anchorage senior Olivier Mantha (Goaltender) and Alabama Huntsville freshman forward Christian Rajic (Rookie).
Robbie Payne, Sr.
Northern Michigan (Gaylord, Mich.)
Payne recorded his second career hat trick Friday, leading No. 20 Northern Michigan to a 5-3 road win at Alaska. The senior from Gaylord, Mich. opened the scoring 10:33 into the contest, gave the Wildcats a 3-2 lead 5:24 into the second period, then tallied a power-play strike just over six minutes later that put NMU on top, 5-2. He finished the weekend with 10 shots on goal and a plus-2 rating. Payne now leads the WCHA and ranks second nationally with 12 goals this season, one behind Denver's Henrik Borgström. This is Payne's second WCHA weekly award of the 2017-18 campaign and his third career honor.
Honorable Mention: Austin Azurdia, Sr., F, Alaska Anchorage (Scored the game-tying goal Friday and assisted on the tying marker Saturday, helping the Seawolves to a four-point weekend against Michigan Tech); Corey Mackin, Jr., F, Ferris State (tied for the team lead with two points on a goal and assist, while posting a plus-2 rating in a nonconference series with Michigan State); Tyler Poulsen, Jr., F, Alabama Huntsville (registered a three-point weekend with a trio of assists, including two in a 5-3 win Saturday over visiting Lake Superior State).
Alec Rauhauser, So.
Bowling Green (Bismark, N.D.)
Rauhauser sparked a rebound performance Saturday for Bowling Green, tying his career high with three points (2g-1a) as the Falcons earned a series split with a 4-1 victory at No. 5/8 Minnesota State. In his first career multi-goal game, the sophomore from Bismark, N.D. scored a pair of power-play goals, including the game-winner in the final minute of the second period. He also assisted on Max Johnson's goal that put BGSU ahead, 3-1, just 54 seconds into the final stanza. He finished the weekend with a team-high seven shots on goal, along with three blocked shots.
Honorable Mention: Ryker Killins, Jr., D, Ferris State (had a goal and assist, along with six shots on goal and two blocks, in a nonconference series against Michigan State); Eric Sinclair, Fr., Alaska Anchorage (recorded over 58:00 of ice time, tied for sixth in the WCHA with five blocked shots and scored his first collegiate goal in Saturday's 3-3 tie vs. Michigan Tech).
Olivier Mantha, Sr.
Alaska Anchorage (La Tuque, Québec)
Mantha backstopped Alaska Anchorage to a pair of ties and a four-point weekend against visiting Michigan Tech, leading the WCHA with 73 saves (third-most nationally) and a NCAA-high 130:00 in net. The senior from La Tuque, Québec allowed just four goals on the weekend, two of which came in power-play situations, finishing the series with a 1.85 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage. In Friday's 1-1 draw, he finished with 36 official saves through 65 minutes, tallied two more stops in the 3-on-3 overtime period and collected four saves in the shootout, which the Seawolves won in the fifth round. Saturday evening, Mantha turned aside 37 shots in a 3-3 draw, including five in the 5-on-5 overtime session. His efforts set the stage for Trey deGraaf, who netted a goal in the 3-on-3 period to give UAA the extra WCHA point. This is Mantha's second WCHA weekly award of the 2017-18 season and his fifth career honor, including one Rookie of the Week accolade.
Honorable Mention: Niko DellaMaggiore, So., Alaska (made his collegiate debut with two appearances against No. 20 Northern Michigan and earned his first win Saturday, stopping 20-of-21 shots in a 4-1 victory); Patrick Munson, Jr., Michigan Tech (stopped 26-of-27 shots in two appearances at Alaska Anchorage, helping the Huskies to a pair of ties); Darren Smith, Jr., G, Ferris State (made 31 saves in 63:47 of a 3-2, nonconference overtime setback Friday at Michigan State).
Christian Rajic, Fr., F
Alabama Huntsville (Oakville, Ontario)
Rajic scored three times in Alabama Huntsville's 5-3 victory Saturday over Lake Superior State, becoming the first Chargers freshman with a hat trick since Jared Ross against Bemidji State on March 9, 2002). In accomplishing a feat not seen in Huntsville in 15 years, the Oakville, Ontario native led WCHA rookies last weekend in goals, while tying for the overall league lead. Rajic's first-period goal gave UAH a 2-0 lead, his strike at the 8:09 mark of the second stanza put the Chargers up, 4-2, and stood as the game-winner, while he added his third marker just 1:45 later. All three of his goals came during even-strength hockey, while he needed just four shots on goal to complete the hat trick. This is this first career WCHA weekly award for Rajic, who is one of four D-I freshmen in the country this season with a hat trick.
Honorable Mention: Jake Jaremko, Fr., F, Minnesota State (led the WCHA in scoring last week, tallying four points on two goals and two assists in the Mavericks' split with Bowling Green); Eric Sinclair, Fr., D, Alaska Anchorage (recorded over 58:00 of ice time, tied for sixth in the WCHA with five blocked shots and scored his first collegiate goal in Saturday's 3-3 tie vs. Michigan Tech). Cameron Wright, Fr., F, Bowling Green (tied for the league lead with three assists last weekend, including helping on the game-winner Saturday as the Falcons earned a split at then-No. 5/8 Minnesota State).