WCHA Week 9: Thanksgiving Week Brings Helping Of Nonconference Games
Only two WCHA league sets are on tap, as Alabama Huntsville hosts Ferris State and Michigan Tech visits Alaska; Bemidji State (at Princeton), Bowling Green (vs. Miami), No. 8 Minnesota State (at No. 16/15 Minnesota Duluth) and Northern Michigan (at Omaha) all play nonconference games
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Only two WCHA league sets are on tap including Alaska hosting Michigan Tech

Opening Face-Off

- Mavericks Remain in the Top-10: Minnesota State, which sits atop the standings in the Men's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), is eighth in this week's USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings. Bowling Green is receiving votes in both polls, while Northern Michigan and Bemidji State got votes in the USCHO.com ledger.

- Bringing the Payne: Northern Michigan senior forward Robbie Payne is second in the country with 12 goals this season and an average of 1.00 per game, trailing only Denver's Henrik Borgström (13 and 1.18) in both categories.

  • The Wildcats' co-captain has scored at least one goal in seven games (NMU is 6-1-0 when he lights the lamp), while he has four multi-goal contests (highlighted by a hat trick Nov. 17 at Alaska).
  • Payne is one goal shy of his career-high 13 goals, established last season. He also scored 12 as a sophomore in 2015-16, while he netted five as a freshman in 2014-15.

- Welcome to the WCHA: Several rookies have made an impact in their inaugural WCHA season, while four rank among the top-20 nationally for freshman scoring.

  • Bowling Green's Cameron Wright has 14 points (5g-9a) in his first 13 collegiate contests, ranking fourth in the NCAA rookie scoring race at 1.08 points per game. Minnesota State's Jake Jaremko (3-9=12) is tied for seventh at 0.92, BGSU's Max Johnson (3-8=11) is tied for 14th at 0.85 and Alaska's Steven Jandric, the WCHA Rookie of the Month for October, is tied for 17th at 0.79 (1-10=11).
  • Bowling Green's freshman class has combined for 39 points this season (12g-27a), good for third-best nationally among rookie groups. Minnesota State is tied for fourth with 36 points (10g-26a) from its first-year players.

- Hats Off: WCHA players have combined for five hat tricks this season, matching ECAC skaters for the second-most nationally (Hockey East has produced seven, three-goal efforts).

  • Minnesota State's Marc Michaelis and Max Coatta each have hat tricks, as do Alabama Huntsville's Christian Rajic, Bemidji State's Jay Dickman and Northern Michigan's Robbie Payne.

By the Numbers

- 3: Straight games for Alaska Anchorage that have advanced past 5-on-5 overtime, with the Seawolves earning the extra point in all three. UAA won shootouts Nov. 11 at UAH and Nov. 17 vs. Michigan Tech, before scoring in 3-on-3 OT vs. MTU on Nov. 18.

- 15: Years since a UAH freshman collected a hat trick, before Christian Rajic scored three goals in a 5-3 win over Lake Superior State last Saturday. Prior to Rajic, the last Chargers rookie with a hat trick was Jared Ross on March 9, 2002 (vs. Bemidji State).

- 94.3: NCAA-leading penalty-kill rate this for Bemidji State (33-for-35). The Beavers were second in that category in 2016-17, finishing at 88.0 percent (139-for-158).


The Week Ahead

- Light Week for League Games: Only two WCHA matchups are on the docket this weekend. Alabama Huntsville (3-1-1 in its last five games) welcomes Ferris State. Michigan Tech wraps up its two-week stay in Alaska by facing the Nanooks in Fairbanks.

- Nonconference Hockey: Four WCHA teams will skate in nonconference games. Bemidji State makes its first trip to Hobey Baker Rink, visiting Princeton in a rare Wednesday-Friday series. Bowling Green renews acquaintances with in-state rival Miami, hosting the RedHawks on Friday-Saturday. Northern Michigan travels to Omaha for a Friday-Saturday set, while No. 8 Minnesota State visits No. 16/15 Minnesota Duluth for a single game Saturday (the teams will play Jan. 23 in Mankato).

- USNTDP Exhibition: Lake Superior State will play the U.S. National Team Development Program this Saturday in the Soo.


The Week in Review

- Alabama Huntsville and Lake Superior State both looked for valuable conference points this weekend, and both teams emerged with a win to split the series in Huntsville.

- It was an exciting weekend in Anchorage, as Michigan Tech and Alaska Anchorage took both contests to extra-time, with the Seawolves emerging with four league points.

- Both teams earned a win in Fairbanks, as No. 20 Northern Michigan won the opener before Alaska bounced back to take the finale.

- A battle between early-season front-runners in the WCHA took place in Mankato, and the weekend ended where it started: with Minnesota State in first place in the WCHA, one point ahead of Bowling Green.

- Ferris State met Michigan State in a nonconference home-and-home series, with the Spartans winning a pair of tightly-contested games.

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


Lake Superior State 3, at Alabama Huntsville 1
at Alabama Huntsville 5, Lake Superior State 1
(Nov. 17 and 18 at Von Braun Center; Huntsville, Alabama)

Alabama Huntsville and Lake Superior State both looked for valuable conference points this weekend, and both teams emerged with a win to split the series in Huntsville.

LSSU goaltender Nick Kossoff stole the show in the series opener, recording 26 saves as the Lakers posted a 3-1 victory. Three different skaters scored for the visitors: Diego Cuglietta (power-play), Jake Hand (game-winner) and Max Humitz (empty-net).

In a high scoring finale, the teams exchanged goals throughout, but it was the Chargers and freshman forward Christian Rajic who came away on top as UAH took the contest, 5-3. Rajic became the first UAH freshman with a hat trick since March 2002, scoring once in the first period and twice in the second (including the game-winner). Jordan Uhleski tied his season high with 41 saves, including stopping all 21 shots he faced in the third period as UAH held on.


at Alaska Anchorage 1, Michigan Tech 1 – OT (UAA wins shootout, 1-0)
at Alaska Anchorage 3, Michigan Tech 3 – OT (UAA scores in 3-on-3 OT)
(Nov. 17 and 18 at Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Alaska)

It was an exciting weekend in Anchorage, as Michigan Tech and Alaska Anchorage took both contests to extra-time, with the Seawolves emerging with four league points.

UAA goaltender Olivier Mantha was a brick wall all weekend, leading the WCHA with 73 saves in the two games (third-most nationally). Friday night, Mantha finished with 36 official saves and Austin Azurdia scored for the fourth-straight game in a 1-1 tie. UAA pulled out the shootout victory behind a Corey Renwick goal to earn the extra point in the standings.

After the Seawolves went into the third period with a 3-1 lead Saturday, the Huskies rallied to send the game into extra time, as Dane Birks and Alex Smith each knocked in a goal. Trey deGraaf would give UAA an extra point for the second consecutive night, scoring in the 3-on-3 overtime period. Mantha finished with 37 stops.


No. 20 Northern Michigan 5, at Alaska 3
at Alaska 4, No. 20 Northern Michigan 1
(Nov. 17 and 18 at Carlson Center; Fairbanks, Alaska)

Both teams earned a win in Fairbanks, as No. 20 Northern Michigan won the opener before Alaska bounced back to take the finale.

Friday night, Robbie Payne recorded his second career hat trick for the Wildcats, as the visiting team posted a 5-3 victory. Darien Craighead added a goal and two assists for NMU, while Atte Tolvanen made 32 saves.

UAF bounced back for the split on Saturday, winning 4-1 in a night of firsts for the Nanooks. Goaltender Nikko Della Maggiore made his first career start (a night after his first career appearance, in relief) and made 20 saves for his first collegiate win. Freshmen Max Newton and Justin Young scored their first collegiate goals, with Newton's standing as the game-winner (he also had an assist).


at No. 5/8 Minnesota State 6, Bowling Green 1
Bowling Green 4, at No. 5/8 Minnesota State 1
(Nov. 17 and 18 at Verizon Center; Mankato, Minn.)

A battle between early-season front-runners in the WCHA took place in Mankato, and the weekend ended where it started: with Minnesota State in first place in the WCHA, one point ahead of Bowling Green.

The first night, the host Mavericks rolled from the jump. Freshman Reggie Lutz had his hand in both MSU goals in the first period with a goal and an assist, with Ian Scheid adding a pair of power-play goals in the second to give the Mavericks a 6-1 victory. Minnesota State got seven points (2g-5a) on the night from its freshmen.

The Falcons bounced back with a big 4-1 win Saturday night, scoring the game's final four goals after trailing 1-0 entering the second period. Defenseman Alec Rauhauser had two goals (including the game-winner) and one assist, and the Falcons scored three times on the power play.


at Michigan State 3, Ferris State 2 – OT
Michigan State 3, at Ferris State 1
(Nov. 17 at Munn Ice Arena; East Lansing, Mich. and Nov. 18 at Ewigleben Ice Arena; Big Rapids, Mich.)

Ferris State met Michigan State in a nonconference home-and-home series, with the Spartans winning a pair of tightly-contested games.

The Bulldogs rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime in Friday's series opener. Mitch Maloney lit the lamp for the fifth-straight game and Ryker Killins tied the contest with 4:24 remaining in regulation. But, in the end, Darren Smith's 31-save effort wasn't enough, as Michigan State scored 3:47 into overtime for the 3-2 win in East Lansing.

A sold-out crowd of 2,490 greeted the teams Saturday night at the Ewigleben Ice Arena, but the host Bulldogs dropped a 3-1 decision. Michigan State again jumped out to a 2-0 lead, before Ferris State's Corey Mackin cut the deficit to one early in the third period.