- Mavericks First to Punch Postseason Ticket: Minnesota State, which leads the Men's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) with 45 points in 20 league games, is the first to clinch a spot in the eight-team, 2018 WCHA Playoffs.
- At 15-5-0 in WCHA play, the Mavericks have equaled their 2016-17 league victory total (15-9-4).
- Cardiac 'Cats: Philip Beaulieu's overtime winner with 6.9 seconds remaining Saturday was the fourth time this season that Northern Michigan has won with a goal in last minute of regulation or OT. The full list:
- Oct. 14 at Ferris State (Darien Craighead with 0:00.5 left in regulation), Oct. 20 vs. Wisconsin (Denver Pierce with 0:17.1 left in OT), Dec. 29 at Minnesota State (Joseph Nardi with 0:36 left in regulation) and Jan. 13 vs. Bowling Green (Beaulieu with 0:06.9 left in OT).
- More from Marquette: Picked to finish seventh in the WCHA by league coaches and media, Northern Michigan (13-10-3 overall / 11-5-2-2 WCHA) has already equaled its 2016-17 victory total, while surpassing its league output of a season ago (13-22-4 / 10-15-3-1 WCHA). The Wildcats enter the weekend in second place, eight points behind front-running Minnesota State (and with two games in-hand on the Mavericks).
- The Wildcats are 5-3-1 this season against ranked opponents, splitting once with then-No. 6 Wisconsin, twice with Minnesota State (No. 9 and No. 7), skating to a tie vs. Boston College (No. 13) and sweeping Bowling Green (No. 14).
- NMU has earned at least three points from every WCHA series this season, including three sweeps.
- A Look at the Rankings: Minnesota State is No. 9 in this week's USCHO.com poll, followed by No. 17 Bowling Green (Northern Michigan is one point shy of the top-20, while Bemidji State and Michigan Tech are receiving votes). The Mavericks are eighth in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings (the Falcons are receiving votes).
- Minnesota State is eighth in the PairWise rankings entering the weekend, while Bowling Green is 17th.
- The Mavericks (17-7-0) have the third-most wins in D-I men's college hockey, while the Wildcats (13-10-3) are tied for ninth and the Falcons (12-8-6) are tied for 13th.
By the Numbers
- 3: Times this season that Bowling Green has forced overtime with an extra-attacker goal in the final 90 seconds of regulation: Nov. 25 vs. Miami (Alec Rauhauser with 0:38 remaining), Dec. 2 vs. Bemidji State (Lukas Craggs with 0:54 remaining) and last Saturday at Northern Michigan (Cameron Wright with 1:29 remaining).
- 69 and 75: Points this season by Minnesota State's freshmen (20g-49a) and Bowling Green's first-year skaters (23g-52), ranking fourth and second, respectively, among national rookie classes.
The Week Ahead
- Alaska Anchorage at No. 17 Bowling Green: The Falcons, who are 5-1-4 in WCHA games this season at the Slater Family Ice Arena, are unbeaten in their last five games against the Seawolves (4-0-1).
- Bemidji State at Ferris State: The Beavers have won six-straight WCHA games and are undefeated in their last nine league contests (6-0-3). BSU took five-of-six points from the Bulldogs at the Sanford Center on Oct. 27-28.
- Alaska at Michigan Tech: The Huskies, 5-2-4 in their last 11 league games, play their first WCHA series since Dec. 15-16. The Nanooks are 5-3-0 (all in WCHA play) since being swept by Tech back on Nov. 24-25 in Fairbanks.
- Lake Superior State at Northern Michigan: The 2017-18 Cappo Cup is on the line when the Lakers and Wildcats meet for the final time. The UP rivals opened the season with a nonconference home-and-home, with each team winning on home ice.
- No. 9/8 Minnesota State at No. 3 St. Cloud State: The Mavericks and Huskies play Saturday evening for Hockey Day Minnesota 2018. The nonconference matchup between the WCHA and NCHC leaders will be televised live on FOX Sports North PLUS.
The Week in Review
- Alabama Huntsville wrapped up its two-week Alaska stay and 12-game road trip with a series split, while host Alaska Anchorage earned a much-needed victory Saturday.
- Alaska stormed to a five-goal win in the series opener, but No. 8/6 Minnesota State rallied for a Saturday-night victory and a 3-1-0 record during its two-week stay in the Last Frontier.
- Ferris State maintained a seven-point lead over Lake Superior State in the race for the eighth and final spot in the WCHA Playoffs following a series split in the Soo.
- Upstart Northern Michigan pulled off perhaps its biggest surprise of the season, sweeping No. 14 Bowling Green to leapfrog the Falcons into second place in the WCHA standings.
- Regional rivals met in a home-and-home series, with Bemidji State bouncing back from a Friday home loss to earn a 2-2 tie Saturday at No. 7/8 North Dakota.
- Full recaps and box scores, along with the "Inside the WCHA" highlights show, are available at wcha.com.
Alabama Huntsville 4, at Alaska Anchorage 2
at Alaska Anchorage 2, Alabama Huntsville 1
(Jan. 12 and 13 at Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Alaska)
Alabama Huntsville wrapped up its two-week Alaska stay and 12-game road trip with a series split, while host Alaska Anchorage earned a much-needed victory Saturday.
The Chargers scored twice in the final three minutes of regulation to snap a 2-2 tie and win, 4-2, in Friday's series opener. Freshman Levi Wunder broke the tie with his first collegiate game-winning goal, while Josh Kestner's empty-net goal was his 14th of the season in WCHA play – most of any player in the country in conference play.
UAA picked up just its second win of the season, and first at home, rallying to win 2-1 on Saturday in broadcaster Kurt Haider's 700th game as the voice of the Seawolves. Alex Jackstadt scored his first goal of the season to tie the game 1-1 in the first period, while Trey deGraaf snapped the 1-1 tie with the game-winner at the 8:41 mark of the third period. Senior goaltender Olivier Mantha, who leads the WCHA and ranks second nationally with 712 saves this season, made 28 stops in the victory.
at Alaska 5, No. 8/6 Minnesota State 0
No. 8/6 Minnesota State 5, at Alaska 1
(Jan. 12 and 13 at Carlson Center; Fairbanks, Alaska)
Alaska stormed to a five-goal win in the series opener, but No. 8/6 Minnesota State rallied for a Saturday-night victory and a 3-1-0 record during its two-week stay in the Last Frontier.
Sophomore goaltender Anton Martinsson made 26 saves for his first collegiate shutout, as UAF upset the league-leading Mavericks, 5-0 on Friday night. Four different Nanooks lit the lamp, with Zach Frye's two power-play goals serving as the bookends. UAF's defensive effort marked the first time since the Oct. 7 season opener that the Mavericks were kept off the scoreboard.
Minnesota State bounced back in a big way Saturday, scoring the game's final five goals to win, 5-1. After UAF took a 1-0 lead just 2:51 into the contest, the Mavericks rallied for three first-period goals, including two by Brad McClure. Marc Michaelis and Daniel Brickley added power-play goals in the second period and the Mavs rolled from there, becoming the first team to clinch a spot in the 2018 WCHA Playoffs.
Ferris State 4, at Lake Superior State 0
at Lake Superior State 5, Ferris State 3
(Jan. 12 and 13 at Taffy Abel Arena; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.)
Ferris State maintained a seven-point lead over Lake Superior State in the race for the eighth and final spot in the WCHA Playoffs following a series split in the Soo.
Junior goaltender Darren Smith turned aside all 27 shots he faced for his first shutout of the year, while four different Bulldogs lit the lamp in a 4-0 win Friday. Coale Norris opened the scoring with the third game-winning goal of his freshman campaign, while Corey Mackin, Nate Kallen and Ryker Killins also found the back of the net.
The Lakers jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period Saturday, watched the Bulldogs rally to tie the game 3-3, then scored the game's final two goals to win, 5-3. Ferris State's Ryker Killins and Jason Tackett tied the game with goals :41 seconds apart in the third period, but LSSU senior blueliner Kyle Chatham put the Lakers back on top for good with his first goal of the season, at the 12:35 mark. Gage Torrel, Jake Hand and Anthony Nellis all scored for LSSU during its three-goal, first-period outburst.
at Northern Michigan 5, No. 14 Bowling Green 2
at Northern Michigan 3, No. 14 Bowling Green 2 - OT
(Jan. 12 and 13 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich.)
Upstart Northern Michigan pulled off perhaps its biggest surprise of the season, sweeping No. 14 Bowling Green to leapfrog the Falcons into second place in the WCHA standings.
The host Wildcats went a perfect 4-for-4 on the power-play, including a pair of man-advantage goals by Troy Loggins, to win the opener 5-2. Darien Craighead's second-period power-play goal stood as the game-winner, while Atte Tolvanen made 23 saves for NMU.
Philip Beaulieu's goal with 6.9 seconds left in OT on Saturday gave NMU a dramatic, 3-2 win, the series sweep and sole possession of second place. Bowling Green had tied the game, 2-2, on an extra-attacker goal by freshman Cameron Wright with 1:29 remaining in regulation. Loggins scored his third power-play goal of the weekend for the Wildcats.
No. 7/8 North Dakota 5, at Bemidji State 1
Bemidji State 2, at No. 7/8 North Dakota 2 - OT
(Jan. 12 at Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn. and Jan. 13 at Ralph Engelstad Arena; Grand Forks, N.D.)
Regional rivals met in a home-and-home series, with Bemidji State bouncing back from a Friday home loss to earn a 2-2 tie Saturday at No. 7/8 North Dakota.
Bemidji State saw its six-game winning streak and nine-game unbeaten run come to an end Friday night at the Sanford Center. The game was tied, 1-1, after the first period, but the Fighting Hawks scored the game's final four goals to win, 5-1.
The Beavers rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits and Michael Bitzer made 29 saves in a 2-2 tie Saturday night in Grand Forks, N.D. Leo Fitzgerald scored a power-play goal in the second period to draw BSU even at 1-1. Trailing 2-1 nearing the halfway point of the third period, junior defenseman Dillon Eichstadt scored the equalizer for the Beavers.