BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Feb. 26, 2018 – The final weekend of the regular season in the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) saw several excellent performances by seniors, along with one of the nation's top rookie goal-scoring efforts. The WCHA Players of the Week for games of Feb. 23-24 are: Ferris State senior Mitch Maloney (Offensive), Alaska senior Zach Frye (Defensive), Alaska Anchorage goaltender Olivier Mantha (Goaltender) and Ferris State freshman forward Coale Norris (Rookie).
Mitch Maloney, Sr.
Ferris State (Macomb, Mich.)
Maloney made the most of his final regular season home games at Ewigleben Ice Arena, tying for the WCHA lead with four points and helping Ferris State clinch its 21st consecutive postseason appearance with a sweep of Lake Superior State. The senior from Macomb, Mich. tallied two goals and two assists, had a pair of multi-point efforts and ranked second in the WCHA with a plus-5 rating during. Maloney assisted on the Bulldogs' first two goals in Friday's 4-1 triumph, including the first helper on Corey Mackin's game-winner. He came back on Saturday to notch two, third-period goals, including the game-winner, to seal FSU's Senior Night win. Both goals came on empty nets at 17:43 and 18:50, including one unassisted, turning a 2-1 Bulldogs lead into a 4-2 triumph. With the two wins, Ferris State secured the No. 6 seed for the 2018 WCHA Postseason Tournament. This is Maloney's second career WCHA weekly award, both coming this season (also Nov. 27).
Honorable Mention: Brent Baltus, Sr., Michigan Tech (scored a goal each night, helping the Huskies split with No. 19 Northern Michigan); Nicolas Erb-Ekholm, Jr. Alaska Anchorage (tied for the WCHA lead and tied for second nationally with three goals, helping the Seawolves to a road sweep in Fairbanks); Mitch McLain, Sr., Bowling Green (scored a goal in both games, as the No. 17 Falcons split at Alabama Huntsville); Marc Michaelis, So., Minnesota State (scored a goal each night as the No. 3 Mavericks clinched the MacNaughton Cup during a four-point series vs. Bemidji State); Robbie Payne, Sr., Northern Michigan (scored the tying goal and assisted on the game-winner as the No. 19 Wildcats rallied for a 2-1 win Friday vs. Michigan Tech).
Zach Frye, Sr.
Alaska (Spokane, Wash.)
Despite dropping a pair of games to UAA, Alaska's Frye collected two goals and two assists to tie for a league-best four-point weekend. The senior from Spokane, Wash. led WCHA defensemen in scoring and tied for second among all NCAA blueliners, while collecting a league-best 13 shots on goal. Frye tallied two assists in Friday's 5-3 loss, before scoring both Nanooks' goals in Saturday's 3-2 setback to finish the weekend with a plus-2 rating. This is Frye's third career WCHA weekly award, all coming in the second half of the 2017-18 campaign (also Jan. 15 and Feb. 5).
Honorable Mention: Mark Auk, Sr., Michigan Tech (had a pair of assists Saturday in the Huskies' 3-2, comeback win over No. 19 Northern Michigan); Philip Beaulieu, So., Northern Michigan (tied for the WCHA lead with a defenseman-best three assists, helping the No. 19 Wildcats split with Michigan Tech); Tanner Johnson, Sr., Alaska Anchorage (scored his first goal of the season, while also adding an assist, as the Seawolves won Saturday to complete a sweep at Alaska); Joe Rutkowski, So., Ferris State (tallied two assists and a WCHA-best plus-5 rating, helping the Bulldogs clinch a playoff spot with a sweep of Lake Superior State); Zach Whitecloud, So., Bemidji State (led the Beavers in scoring with a goal and an assist, while collecting four blocks as BSU earned two points at No. 3 Minnesota State).
Olivier Mantha, Sr.
Alaska Anchorage (La Tuque, Québec)
Mantha wrapped up his illustrious collegiate career in style, backstopping Alaska Anchorage to a sweep at rival Alaska with a WCHA-best 76 saves (the second-most nationally). The senior from La Tuque, Québec finished the weekend with a .938 save percentage, while making double-digit stops in five of the six periods. Mantha opened the series by making 35 saves in Friday's 5-3 victory, including 32 over the final 40 minutes. Saturday night, he logged the 13th 40-save performance of his career (fourth this season), stopping 41 shots in a 3-2 triumph. Mantha made 12 saves in the first period, 13 in the second and 16 more over the final 20 minutes, ending his collegiate career with a UAA-record 3,449 saves. He also tallied 946 stops this season, one shy of the Seawolves' single-season record. In addition to his saves number, Mantha also ends his time in Anchorage as UAA's career leader in save percentage (.908) and minutes (6973:22). This is Mantha's third WCHA weekly award of the 2017-18 season and his sixth career honor, including one Rookie of the Week accolade.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Bednard, So., Bowling Green (collected a 23-save shutout Saturday, while finishing the No. 17 Falcons' split at Alabama Huntsville with a 1.51 goals-against average and a .935 save pct.); Michael Bitzer, Sr., Bemidji State (was terrific against the nation's top-ranked offense, making 64 saves with a .941 save pct. and a 1.95 GAA as the Beavers earned two points at No. 3 Minnesota State); Devin Kero, Sr., Michigan Tech (posted 52 stops and a .929 save pct. in backstopping the Huskies to a split with No. 19 Northern Michigan); Connor LaCouvee, Sr., Minnesota State (backstopped the No. 3 Mavericks to a MacNaughton Cup-clinching win Friday and a four-point weekend, posting a 1.44 GAA and .933 save pct.); Darren Smith, Jr., Ferris State (led all WCHA netminders with two wins and a .957 save pct., posting a 1.50 GAA as the Bulldogs swept Lake Superior State to earn a playoff spot); Atte Tolvanen, Jr., Northern Michigan (posted 50 saves on the weekend, along with a .926 save pct. and 2.05 GAA as the No. 19 Wildcats split with Michigan Tech).
Coale Norris, Fr., F
Ferris State (Oxford, Mich.)
Norris led WCHA rookies with three goals (tied for second among NCAA freshmen), three points and a plus-3 rating, helping Ferris State clinch its 21st consecutive postseason berth with a sweep of Lake Superior State. The freshman from Oxford, Mich. put the finishing touches on the Bulldogs' 4-1 win Friday with an empty-net goal, before scoring twice in Saturday's 4-2 victory. With Ferris State trailing, 1-0, in the second period Saturday, Norris scored at the 3:43 mark to tie the contest. He then put the Bulldogs ahead, 2-1 at 7:37 of the third period, finishing his first collegiate multi-goal contest with his 10th of the season. This is Norris' second WCHA weekly award of his freshman season.
Honorable Mention: Seamus Donohue, Fr., D, Michigan Tech (had a pair of assists in the Huskies' 3-2, comeback win Saturday vs. No. 19 Northern Michigan).