WCHA Week 18: All 10 Teams Take The Ice For WCHA Games As Races Heat Up
For just the fourth time this year, a full slate of five WCHA series as No. 19 Northern Michigan visits Alabama Huntsville, No. 14 Bowling Green hosts Michigan Tech, No. 7 Minnesota State welcomes Alaska Anchorage, Bemidji State faces Lake Superior State at the Sanford Center and Ferris State is at Alaska
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Bemidji State, 9-1-3 in its last 12 league games, hosts Lake Superior State this weekend

Opening Face-Off

- Moving Up in the Rankings: Three teams from the Men's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) are in the top-20 of the USCHO.com poll: No. 7 Minnesota State, No. 14 Bowling Green (up one spot) and No. 19 Northern Michigan (up one spot). The Mavericks and Falcons hold the same spots in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings, while the Wildcats are receiving votes (Bemidji State is garnering votes in the USCHO.com rankings).

  • Minnesota State is seventh in the PairWise Rankings entering the weekend, while Bowling Green is 17th, Northern Michigan is 18th and Bemidji State is 22nd.

- 2018 WCHA Playoffs: Four of the eight spots in the 2018 WCHA Playoffs are claimed. Picked to finish seventh in the preseason polls, Northern Michigan enters February in first place in the WCHA and with its postseason ticket punched. Second-place Bowling Green, third-place Minnesota State (the first team to clinch) and fourth-place Bemidji State are also in.

- Winning Hockey: With a combined 6-1-0 record last week, the top four teams in the WCHA standings continued to play excellent hockey. All four schools rank among the top-12 nationally this season for winning percentage.

  • Minnesota State is tied for fourth in the country with an overall .731 winning percentage (19-7-0). Bowling Green is 10th at .633 (16-8-6), Northern Michigan is 11th at .617 (17-10-3) and Bemidji State is 12th at .607 (.14-8-6).
  • Since Dec. 1, the Mavericks are tied for second at .833 (10-2-0), the Falcons are tied for sixth at .733 (10-3-2), the Wildcats are ninth at .719 (10-3-3) and the Beavers are 11th at .688 (9-3-4).
  • MSU (tied for second at .833, 5-1-0), NMU (fourth at .812, 6-1-1 -- including six-straight wins) and BGSU (fifth at .800, 8-2-0 -- including a four-game winning streak) were three of just five NCAA teams to play .800-or-better in January.

- January Notables: The WCHA saw several impressive performances once the calendar flipped to 2018. Among those:

  • Four of the nation's top-10 January scorers skate in the WCHA: BGSU sophomore defenseman Alec Rauhauser tied for the most points in the NCAA with 14 (1g-13), NMU junior Troy Loggins was third (8g-15a--13pts), while fellow Wildcats junior Adam Rockwood (3-9--12) and BGSU senior Mitch McLain (5-7--12) were tied for fifth.
  • No NCAA freshman tallied more points in January than BGSU's Brandon Kruse (2g-9a--11pts), followed closely in second by fellow Falcons forward Max Johnson (5-4--9).
  • Ferris State junior Darren Smith (eighth at .937) and Minnesota State senior Connor LaCouvee (ninth at .937) were among the top-10 NCAA goaltenders for save percentage, while LaCouvee (1.16) and Bemidji State senior Michael Bitzer (.186) were second and 10th, respectively, for goals-against average.

By the Numbers

- 4: Game-winning goals by Ferris State freshman forward Coale Norris, matching St. Cloud State's Easton Brodzinski and Michigan State's Mitchell Lewandowski for most by a NCAA rookie.

- 25: NCAA-leading assists for Northern Michigan junior forward Adam Rockwood. The transfer from Wisconsin has nine helpers during a current seven-game point streak, including four assists on NMU game-winning goals.

- 100: Overall wins since joining the WCHA for Bowling Green. The Falcons join Minnesota State (117) and Michigan Tech (102) in the WCHA's 100-victory club since 2013-14.


The Week Ahead

- Fourth of Five Weekends with Five League Series: Bowling Green brings its four-game winning streak and No. 14 ranking into a 2017 WCHA Championship rematch vs. visiting Michigan Tech. Passed twice in the standings while off from league play the last two weekends, No. 7 Minnesota State -- now in third place -- hosts Alaska Anchorage. Bemidji State, 9-1-3 in its last 12 league games, hosts a Lake Superior State team fighting to keep postseason hopes alive. Alaska, which trails sixth-place Ferris State by five points, hosts the Bulldogs. League-leading and No. 19 Northern Michigan plays Sat. and Sun. afternoon games at UAH.


The Week in Review

- The week began last Tuesday with a nonconference, top-10 clash in Mankato, where No. 7/8 Minnesota State blanked No. 9/13 Minnesota Duluth, 1-0.

- Northern Michigan vaulted past idle Minnesota State and into first place in the WCHA standings, as the 20th-ranked Wildcats swept host Alaska Anchorage for their fifth- and sixth-straight wins.

- On a weekend in which UAH honored the 20th anniversary of its 1998 NCAA Division II national champions (which defeated Bemidji State to host the trophy), the Chargers and Beavers each posted 5-1 victories.

- After dropping eight of its previous nine games, Ferris State righted the ship in a big way, sweeping rival Michigan Tech in front of packed houses at Ewigleben Ice Arena to jump from eighth to sixth in the WCHA standings.

- Bowling Green moved past idle Minnesota State in the WCHA standings and kept pace with Northern Michigan, as the No. 15 Falcons finished the weekend in second place following a sweep at Lake Superior State.

- After defeating a pair of nationally-ranked NCHC teams over the previous seven days, the seventh-rated Mavericks took a weekend off from collegiate competition and hosted the U.S. Under-18 Team on Saturday in Mankato.

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


at No. 7/8 Minnesota State 1, No. 9/13 Minnesota Duluth 0
(Jan. 23 at Verizon Center; Mankato, Minn.)

The week began last Tuesday with a nonconference, top-10 clash in Mankato, where No. 7/8 Minnesota State blanked No. 9/13 Minnesota Duluth, 1-0.

Mavericks senior goaltender Connor LaCouvee was the difference, turning aside all 15 UMD shots for his second career shutout. Parker Tuomie scored the game's lone goal, one-timing a Marc Michaelis pass (off an outlet from Daniel Brickley) into the back of the net at 17:24 of the second period.


No. 20 Northern Michigan 4, at Alaska Anchorage 2
No. 20 Northern Michigan 5, at Alaska Anchorage 3
(Jan. 26 and 27 at Sullivan Arena; Anchorage, Alaska)

Northern Michigan vaulted past idle Minnesota State and into first place in the WCHA standings, as the 20th-ranked Wildcats swept host Alaska Anchorage for their fifth- and sixth-straight wins.

Four different Wildcats scored Friday as NMU – which was picked to finish seventh in the preseason polls – won to move into first place in the WCHA standings. Anchorage native Alec Butcher scored his first two Sullivan Arena goals for the Seawolves, but it wasn't enough in a 4-2 NMU victory. Troy Loggins' goal with 1:57 remaining gave NMU a 3-1 lead and stood as the game-winner.

NMU jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 15:46, then, after UAA drew within one late in the third period, held on for a 5-3 victory to complete the sweep. Loggins wrapped up a three-goal weekend with a pair of goals, Adam Rockwood scored a goal and added his NCAA-leading 25th assist – setting up the first collegiate goal by freshman blue-liner Robert Fosdick.


at Alabama Huntsville 5, Bemidji State 1
Bemidji State 5, at Alabama Huntsville 1
(Jan. 26 and 27 at Von Braun Center; Huntsville, Ala.)

On a weekend in which UAH honored the 20th anniversary of its 1998 NCAA Division II national champions (which defeated Bemidji State to host the trophy), the Chargers and Beavers each posted 5-1 victories.

Playing their first home game since Nov. 25, the Chargers treated their home fans to a show with a 5-1 win Friday over longtime rival Bemidji State. Madison Dunn had a three-point night, scoring UAH's second and fifth goals, and assisting on the fourth. Huntsville native Josh Kestner moved into a tie for the WCHA lead with his 17th goal of the season, while senior Jordan Uhleski made 30 saves for the Chargers.

UAH brought its 1998 championship team on the ice for second intermission, but the visiting Beavers stole the show with a 5-1 win, clinching a spot in the WCHA playoffs. BSU outshot the host Chargers, 36-12, while defenseman Justin Baudry scored twice in the win. Max McHugh, an all-league performer for UAH, returned to the ice this weekend for the first time this season and scored his first goal of the season in the third period.


at Ferris State 4, Michigan Tech 3
at Ferris State 3, Michigan Tech 1
(Jan. 26 and 27 at Ewigleben Ice Arena; Big Rapids, Mich.)

After dropping eight of its previous nine games, Ferris State righted the ship in a big way, sweeping rival Michigan Tech in front of packed houses at Ewigleben Ice Arena to jump from eighth to sixth in the WCHA standings.

In a showcase of special teams prowess, Ferris State scored three power-play goals to the Huskies' two en route to a 4-3 win in Friday's series opener. The second period alone saw five man-advantage goals – the first two by FSU to take a 3-1 lead, the next two by Tech to tie the game, 3-3, and then the last by the host Bulldogs. FSU defenseman Ryker Killins scored twice in the second period – once to put FSU on top, 2-1; then, again with the game-winner.

More special teams success, along with the goaltending of Darren Smith, paved the way for a 3-1 Ferris State win Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd of 2,490 fans. The Bulldogs again scored three times in the middle period: Corey Mackin scored on the power play, freshman Coale Norris netted an even-strength marker and fellow rookie Lucas Finner scored a short-handed breakaway for what stood as the game-winner. Smith turned aside 26-of-27 shots in the win.


No. 15 Bowling Green 5, at Lake Superior State 3
No. 15 Bowling Green 3, at Lake Superior State 2
(Jan. 26 and 27 at Taffy Abel Arena; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.)

Bowling Green moved past idle Minnesota State in the WCHA standings and kept pace with Northern Michigan, as the No. 15 Falcons finished the weekend in second place following a sweep at Lake Superior State.

The Falcons snapped a 2-2 tie Friday with a three-goal, second-period outburst, en route to a 5-3, series-opening win. Lukas Craggs, freshman Brandon Kruse (second-straight game-winner) and Tyler Spezia all scored in the middle stanza. Although the Lakers outshot the Falcons, 18-1 in the third period, BGSU goaltender and Florida Panthers prospect Ryan Bednard made 17 saves in the frame to preserve the victory.

BGSU scored three, first-period goals, then held on the rest of the way for a 3-2 victory. Spezia scored twice in the first period, while Mitch McLain added his team-leading 13th of the season for the Falcons. The Lakers rallied with two goals in the second, including a short-handed strike by Gage Torrel, but could not find the tying marker.


at No. 7/8 Minnesota State 5, U.S. Under 18 Team 3 (Exhibition)
(Jan. 27 at Verizon Center; Mankato, Minn.)

After defeating a pair of nationally-ranked NCHC teams over the previous seven days, the seventh-rated Mavericks took a weekend off from collegiate competition and hosted the U.S. Under-18 Team on Saturday in Mankato. Minnesota State won, 5-3, behind goals from Connor Mackey, Reggie Lutz, Marc Michaelis, Jared Spooner and Josh French.