WCHA Week 14: Four League Series And More Tourney Fun On Tap
Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan represent the WCHA at the inaugural Ice Vegas Invitational, while league play features No. 7 Minnesota State at Alaska Anchorage, Alabama Huntsville at Alaska, Bemidji State at Lake Superior State and No. 19 Bowling Green at Ferris State
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Bowling Green, fresh off its GLI title, returns to WCHA play with a trip to Ferris State

Opening Face-Off

- Falcons Fly High at the GLI: Bowling Green rang in 2018 in fine fashion, winning the 53rd Great Lakes Invitational after defeating Michigan (6-4) in the semifinals and league foe Michigan Tech (4-1) in the championship.

  • BGSU sophomore forward Lukas Craggs earned MVP honors with a GLI-best five points (2g-3a) in the two wins. He was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Falcons sophomore defenseman Alec Rauhauser and BGSU freshman goaltender Eric Dop, along with Michigan Tech sophomore defenseman Mitch Reinke.

- Checking in on the Rankings: Minnesota State, which continues to lead the Men's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), is No. 7 in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls. Hours before hoisting the GLI trophy, Bowling Green made its first appearance of the season in the USCHO.com poll at No. 19.

  • The Mavericks are sixth in the PairWise Rankings entering the weekend, while the Falcons are 18th.

- Wildcats on the Prowl: Northern Michigan, which was picked to finish seventh by league coaches and media in the preseason poll, reached 10 wins before Christmas for the first time since 1999-2000 and, after a split at No. 7 Minnesota State, will open 2018 in second place in the WCHA. The Wildcats are also up to 20th in the PairWise Rankings.

- Defending Cup Champs Making a Push: Reigning MacNaughton Cup champion Bemidji State has won four-straight games and has a seven-game unbeaten streak (4-0-3), tied for fifth-longest in the country. The run, all in league play, has the Beavers up to fifth place in the WCHA standings.

  • BSU have given up a paltry 1.57 goals per game during the stretch, second-best in the WCHA since Dec. 2. The Beavers have scored 3.43 goals per contest in that same period.
  • Senior goaltender Michael Bitzer, the 2016-17 WCHA Player of the Year, has been in net for all seven games, posting a WCHA-best .932 save percentage during the span. He also has a 1.52 goals-against average and one shutout.

By the Numbers

- 8: December points, most by any NCAA freshman, for Minnesota State forward Jake Jaremko. The WCHA Rookie of the Month had two goals and six assists (also most in the country by a first-year skater) in six December games.

- 10: December points for Minnesota State senior C.J. Suess (6g-4a), tied for tops in the WCHA and second-most nationally. A Mavericks' tri-captain, Suess ranks 12th in the country with 1.30 points per game overall (10g-16a for 26 points in 20 games).

- 12: Goals in WCHA games by Alabama Huntsville senior Josh Kestner, most in the country for a skater in conference play.

- 16: Career-high goals scored this season by Northern Michigan senior forward Robbie Payne, most in the WCHA and tied for the most nationally (matching Clarkson's Sheldon Rempal and Holy Cross' Scott Pooley).


The Week Ahead

- Four WCHA Series: First-place Minnesota State brings its No. 7 national ranking to Alaska Anchorage. The Mavericks are joined in the Last Frontier by Alabama Huntsville, which plays the Nanooks in Fairbanks (the Chargers and MSU switch opponents next weekend). Bemidji State puts its seven-game unbeaten streak on the line at Lake Superior State, while GLI champion and No. 19 Bowling Green gets back to WCHA play with a Saturday-Sunday set at Ferris State.

- Ice Vegas Invitational: The WCHA comprises half of the inaugural Ice Vegas Invitational field, with Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan set to face No. 13/14 Boston College and Arizona State, respectively, on Friday night. The tournament will be played at T-Mobile Arena, home of the National Hockey League's Vegas Golden Knights.