WCHA Press Releases

For the third time in four seasons, the MacNaughton Cup will reside in Mankato, with the 2017-18 WCHA regular season champion Minnesota State Mavericks.
2017-18 WCHA Season In Review
WCHA's 66th season of competition another memorable campaign, with four 20-win teams, three squads in the final polls and two NCAA tournament participants

Opening Face-Off

- No. 66 in the Books: The Men's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) proudly celebrated its 66th season of competition in 2017-18, another campaign of terrific on- and off-ice accomplishments by its student-athletes, coaches and member programs.

  • The WCHA enjoyed frenzied environments and epic moments during its second-consecutive on-campus postseason tournament, sent two teams to NCAA regionals, joined Hockey East as one of two conferences to produce a quartet of 20-win teams, landed three teams in the final national polls, featured a Hobey Baker Memorial Award top-10 finalist and three All-Americans, applauded a pair of top-10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award®, celebrated Minnesota State's third MacNaughton Cup title in four years and Michigan Tech's second-straight league playoff crown, and cheered on the 24 players -- from all 10 member institutions -- who signed professional contracts.

- Tourney-Bound: For the first time since the 2014-15 season, two WCHA teams advanced to the NCAA tournament: League regular season champion Minnesota State (the Mavericks earned the No. 2 seed in the West Region) and WCHA tournament champion Michigan Tech (with the league's automatic bid, the Huskies were the fourth seed at the East Regional).

  • The WCHA's representatives nearly derailed the 2018 national championship game on the tournament's first day. Michigan Tech scored late to force overtime, before dropping a 4-3 decision to runner-up Notre Dame. Minnesota State fell, 3-2 in OT, to eventual national champion Minnesota Duluth.

- 4x20: The WCHA matched Hockey East with an NCAA-best four, 20-win teams. Minnesota State led the country in victories at 29-10-1, while Northern Michigan (25-15-3) tied for fourth, Bowling Green (23-12-6) tied for ninth and Michigan Tech (22-17-5) tied for 14th.

  • The WCHA has now had a quartet of 20-win teams for three-straight seasons.

- Polling Place: Three WCHA teams were featured in the final USCHO.com poll of the 2017-18 season: No. 9 Minnesota State, No. 16 Michigan Tech and No. 20 Northern Michigan. The Mavericks (eighth) and Huskies (15th) were each up one spot in the final USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings. Bowling Green received votes in the final USCHO.com poll.

- MacNaughton Returns to Mankato: For the third time in four seasons, the MacNaughton Cup will reside in Mankato after Minnesota State emerged as 2017-18 WCHA regular season champions.

  • The Mavericks finished 22-5-1-0 in WCHA play, marking the conference's most league victories since Wisconsin went 23-5-0 en route to the 1999-2000 MacNaughton Cup.

- Tech's Championship Road: First-year head coach Joe Shawhan guided Michigan Tech on an improbable run from WCHA tournament fifth seed to repeat champions with road series wins at Bemidji State and Minnesota State, capped by a victory at Northern Michigan to earn the inaugural Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup.

  • The Huskies swept the Beavers in a quarterfinal-round series, rebounded from a Game 1 loss to outlast the Mavericks in a semifinal-round series and posted a 2-0, WCHA Championship victory over the Wildcats in Marquette.
Bemidji State's Michael Bitzer wrapped up his illustrious career with a WCHA-record 21 shutouts, the second-most in NCAA D-I men's hockey history.

- Bitzer Sets WCHA Shutout Mark: With a career-high 45 saves in a scoreless tie at eventual national champion Minnesota Duluth on Oct. 14, Bemidji State senior goaltender Michael Bitzer set the all-time WCHA record with his 17th career shutout.

  • Bitzer wrapped up his illustrious collegiate career with 21 shutouts -- the second-most in NCAA Division I men's hockey history (behind only the 26 posted at Michigan State by eventual NHL All-Star and U.S. Olympian Ryan Miller).

- National Accolades: WCHA Overall and Offensive Player of the Year C.J. Suess, Minnesota State's senior forward, was a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award and a first-team CCM/AHCA Hockey All-American.

  • Suess headlined a trio of WCHA All-Americans, along with two sophomore defensemen who earned second-team honors: Northern Michigan's Philip Beaulieu and Bowling Green's Alec Rauhauser (WCHA Defenseman of the Year).
  • Beaulieu was also named to the All-USCHO Second Team, while Suess garnered third-team accolades. Northern Michigan junior forward Troy Loggins, Minnesota State junior defenseman Daniel Brickley, Rauhauser and Minnesota State senior goaltender Connor LaCouvee all earned honorable mention.
  • Rauhauser was an All-CHN selection, joined by Minnesota State freshman forward Jake Jaremko (All-Rookie Team).
  • Bemidji State goaltender Michael Bitzer and Bowling Green forward Mitch McLain were among the top-10 finalists for the 2017-18 Senior CLASS Award®, while Ferris State forward Andrew Dorantes was among the top-20 candidates.

- The Next Level: Following the 2017-18 college season, 24 players -- representing all 10 WCHA programs -- signed professional contracts to continue their careers.

  • Five (5) players signed National Hockey League (NHL) entry-level contracts: Bemidji State's Zach Whitecloud (Vegas), Michigan Tech's Dane Birks (Pittsburgh) and Mitch Reinke (St. Louis), and Minnesota State's Daniel Brickley (Los Angeles) and C.J. Suess (Winnipeg).
  • Whitecloud, Reinke and Brickley were all undrafted free agents -- and all three made their NHL debuts.

From the League Office

- Successful 2017-18 Season: With the continued financial success of the on-campus WCHA Postseason Tournament, increased revenue from WCHA.tv and sponsorships (including value-in-kind), reduced expenditures and appropriate budgeting, the WCHA Men's League generated a surplus for the second-consecutive fiscal year.

- Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy: The league was honored in 2018 to introduce the Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, to be awarded each season to the WCHA Postseason Tournament Champion. The late Coach Sauer embodied all that is wonderful about hockey and everything we strive to represent at the WCHA; the league is thrilled to have a new trophy as a tangible reminder of his enduring impact on our league and sport.

  • The trophy, which is presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup and designed by renowned manufacturer Jostens, will reside in Houghton, Mich. for the next year after Michigan Tech captured the 2018 WCHA postseason title.

- WCHA Partners with FloSports: On June 11, the WCHA announced a multiyear partnership with FloSports, the innovator in live digital sports and original content, to stream every game hosted by a WCHA member institution live and on-demand exclusively on FloHockey.tv. With FloSports' significant investment in the WCHA and college hockey, the partnership -- and shared commitment to grow the league and sport -- will have an immediate, tangible and highly-positive fiscal impact for all 10 WCHA member schools.

  • FloHockey.tv will now be the home to approximately 400 college hockey games each season, including every contest hosted by a WCHA Men's League school, the WCHA Women's League (Bemidji State, Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State and St. Cloud State) and select Big Ten Conference games (men's and WCHA-affiliated women's programs).

- WCHA.tv: The WCHA enters its partnership with FloSports riding the momentum generated by the best of WCHA.tv's five seasons. Following the introduction of custom WCHA.tv apps on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Android TV, subscription sales were up 35.7 percent and net revenue increased by 30.9 percent.

- WCHA Brand Continues to Grow: Association-wide digital impressions (across all WCHA owned channels) were up by 1.1 percent during the season. The WCHA continued its four-year trend of increased digital traffic, with its 2017-18 digital network impressions up 162.5 percent from the 2013-14 total. Likewise, Association social media followers (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube) have increased by 114.1 percent over the same period.

  • The WCHA again brought fans a pair of weekly video features: the "WCHA Plays of the Week, Presented by SPIRE Credit Union" and "Inside the WCHA." The league partnered with School Space Media on the latter, with host Ryan Phelps delivering the top goals, saves and plays from each week, along with a look ahead to the next weekend of competition.
  • From fan contests and in-game commentary, to feature stories and highlights of professional success, #WeAreWCHA has become a staple for engagement with the league on any platform, connecting all who make the WCHA a truly special league -- from current players and alumni to future student-athletes; from administrators to coaches; and, most importantly, all our fans. We are all the WCHA.

- Sponsorship: WCHA sponsorship revenue increased by 110.7 percent, with value-in-kind deals adding additional budget relief. The leagued welcomed Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup as the presenting sponsor of the Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, enjoyed new partnerships with Frauenshuh Commercial Real Estate and Art by ASI, while continuing successful relationships with SPIRE Credit Union, UNRL and Ostrom Creative.

- UNRL Powers Official WCHA Online Store: In addition to providing participant gifts at the 2018 WCHA Championship, athletic lifestyle brand UNRL launched the Official WCHA Online Store in February. The site offers fans exclusive, co-branded headwear and apparel featuring the logos and colors of all 10 WCHA Men's League institutions.

- WCHA Leadership: Following the 2018 WCHA Management Council meetings (held April 23-24 in Naples, Fla.) and the Board of Directors meetings (held June 4 in Bloomington, Minn.), the Association formally approved its updated articles of incorporation, bylaws and policies and procedures.

  • The WCHA Men's League Board of Directors is filled of member institution Presidents/Chancellors or their designees, while the WCHA Management Council is comprised of the Athletic Director, Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) and Head Coach of each institution.
  • The 2018-19 WCHA Men's League Advisory Council, which is responsible for general counsel to Commissioner Bill Robertson, along with providing oversight of the League's day-to-day operations, consists of Dr. Fritz Erickson (President, Northern Michigan and Board Chair), Dr. Kim Hancock (Faculty Athletics Representative, Ferris State and FAR Chair), Bob Moosbrugger (Athletic Director, Bowling Green and AD Chair) and Tom Serratore (Head Coach, Bemidji State and Coaches' Chair).

2018 WCHA Postseason Tournament

Michigan Tech capped an improbable run through the 2018 WCHA tournament, winning five road games to earn the inaugural Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, Presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup.

- Bringing Playoff Hockey Home: "Hockey is the best sport there is, playoff hockey is the best of the best, and winning a championship in your home arena – or coming together as a team to win on the road – is one of the greatest feelings a player or coach can have." Those words, spoken by esteemed Ferris State Head Coach Bob Daniels, have proven true in the last two seasons, with the WCHA's on-campus league postseason tournament bringing the singular intensity and passion of playoff college hockey directly to its member institution fans.

- 2018 WCHA Playoffs -- Quarterfinals: The best-of-three quarterfinals saw No. 2 seed Northern Michigan outlast No. 7 Alabama Huntsville in three games, along with a trio of sweeps (No. 5 Michigan Tech upset host and No. 4 seed Bemidji State, while No. 1 Minnesota State toppled No. 8 Alaska and No. 3 Bowling Green eliminated No. 6 Ferris State).

  • Memorable moments included NMU's first home playoff games since 2012 (in the CCHA); UAH's first-ever WCHA postseason victory, courtesy of a late goal by senior forward and Huntsville native Josh Kestner in Game 2; MTU's rally from 3-1 down to win, 5-3, in Game 1; a pair of four-goal periods by MSU; and, a school-record 62 saves by FSU junior goaltender Darren Smith in Game 1, before BGSU freshman Brandon Kruse scored the overtime winner.

- 2018 WCHA Playoffs -- Semifinals: The best-of-three semifinals featured all four WCHA 20-win teams, while both series were settled by an overtime goal in the decisive Game 3. Northern Michigan outlasted Bowling Green and earned the right to host the WCHA Championship after Michigan Tech upset Minnesota State later that same evening.

  • Tech twice staved off a season-ending defeat behind goaltender Patrick Munson, winning Games 2 and 3 in Mankato, the latter on Jake Jackson's second goal of the game, the OT winner in a 2-1 triumph.
  • A matchup of nationally-ranked teams did not disappoint -- especially in a thrilling Game 3 that saw BGSU tie the game with eight seconds left in regulation on a goal by senior captain Mitch McLain, before NMU's Troy Loggins sent the Wildcats to the title game with a goal at 15:53 of OT.

- 2018 WCHA Championship: In an all-Upper Peninsula title game, Michigan Tech captured its second-straight league playoff crown and hoisted the inaugural Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, Presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup. The Huskies won their fifth road game of the tournament, defeating Northern Michigan, 2-0, in front of a sold-out, standing room-only crowd of 4,260 at the Berry Events Center in Marquette.

  • Munson was the difference, capping a remarkable three-game tournament run with a 21-save shutout to earn WCHA Championship First Star and Most Outstanding Player honors. His spectacular, sliding armpit save with 2:20 left in the second period stopped a 2-on-1 opportunity for the Wildcats and preserved a 1-0 Tech lead.
  • MTU freshman Greyson Reitmeier opened the scoring 5:56 into the second period with the eventual game-winner, while Joel L'Esperance sealed the outcome with an empty-net strike at 19:13 of the third.

More from the 2017-18 Season

Northern Michigan's Adam Rockwood led the NCAA with 40 assists, helping the Wildcats to their first 25-win season since the 2001-02.

- Horns Up: Minnesota State led all NCAA Division I teams in 10 categories: Wins (29), goals scored (153), goals per game (3.83), goal margin (+69), goal margin per game (+1.73), power-play goals (52), power-play goals per game (1.30), shots on goal per game (22.00), shots on goal margin (+509) and shots on goal margin per game (+12.72).

  • The Mavericks joined Frozen Four participant Ohio State as the only two teams to rank among the top-10 nationally in scoring offense (first at 3.83 goals per game), scoring defense (sixth at 2.10 goals allowed per game), power-play success rate (third at 27.4 percent, 52-for-190) and penalty-kill efficiency (sixth at 85.5 percent, 148-for-173).
  • For the first time in the program's D-I era, Minnesota State had six players with at least 30 points (C.J. Suess - 43; Zeb Knutson - 43; Marc Michaelis - 40; Jake Jaremko - 39; Parker Tuomie - 37; and, Daniel Brickley - 35).

- Marquette Magic: In his first year as a NCAA Division I bench boss, WCHA Coach of the Year Grant Potulny engineered the finest Northern Michigan season in over a decade. The Wildcats tied for fourth nationally in victories with their first 25-win season (25-15-3) since 2001-02, while reaching 20 wins for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign.

  • After going 8-8-0 through their first 16 games, the Wildcats were undefeated in 20 of their final 27 contests (17-7-3).
  • NMU led the country with 17 home wins, while the Wildcats were fourth with a .773 winning percentage at the Berry Events Center (17-5-0).
  • Despite being picked to finish seventh in the WCHA preseason coaches' and media polls, the Wildcats challenged for the MacNaughton Cup and finished second in the league standings.

- Helping Hand: In his first season with Northern Michigan, junior forward Adam Rockwood led the country with 40 assists -- the most by a WCHA skater since Minnesota Duluth's Jack Connolly also had 40 during his 2011-12 Hobey Baker Award-winning season.

  • A transfer from Wisconsin, he also scored eight goals to lead the WCHA with 48 points overall. His 0.93 assists per game ranked second nationally.

- Lighting the Lamp: For the first time since the 2013-14 season, the WCHA featured a quartet of 20-goal scorers.

  • A pair of seniors -- Alabama Huntsville's Josh Kestner and Northern Michigan's Robbie Payne -- led the WCHA and tied for sixth nationally with 24 goals apiece. Kestner, a Huntsville native, matched UAH's D-I era single-season record.
  • Northern Michigan junior Troy Loggins, who finished second in the WCHA's overall scoring race with 47 points, was third in the league (and tied for ninth nationally) with 23 goals.
  • Minnesota State senior C.J. Suess (43 points overall) was fourth in the WCHA and tied for 12th nationally with 22 goals.
  • Kestner (fifth at 0.65), Payne (13th at 0.56), Suess (14th at 0.55), Loggins (15th at 0.53) and Minnesota State sophomore Marc Michaelis (tied for 24th at 0.50) all ranked among the top-25 nationally for goals per game.
Alaska's Zach Frye, a first-team All-WCHA selection, ranked fourth among NCAA defensemen with 0.97 points-per-game.

- Offensive Defensemen: The WCHA skated four of the NCAA's top-10 defenseman scoring leaders.

  • Second-team All-American Philip Beaulieu, a sophomore at Northern Michigan, was second nationally with 0.98 points per game, while his 42 points overall (11g-31a) were tops among NCAA blueliners.
  • Alaska senior Zach Frye was fourth at 0.97 (11g-23a--34pts), while WCHA Defenseman of the Year and second-team All-American Alec Rauhauser (Bowling Green sophomore) was second overall with 39 points (9g-30a) and sixth at 0.95 points per game.
  • Minnesota State junior Daniel Brickley, who would tally an assist in his NHL debut for the Los Angeles Kings on April 5, was tied for ninth at 0.88 points per game (10g-25a--35pts).

- Youth is Served: Five of the NCAA's top-20 freshman scoring leaders were WCHA rookies, with each wearing either a Minnesota State or Bowling Green uniform.

  • The Mavericks' Jake Jaremko, the second-consecutive WCHA Rookie of the Year from Minnesota State, ranked second nationally with 0.97 points per game. His 39 total points (15g-24a) were also second-most by a NCAA rookie and the most by a freshman in Minnesota State's D-I era (surpassing future NHL All-Star David Backes' 37-point output in 2003-04).
  • Reggie Lutz, a teammate of Jaremko's at Elk River (Minn.) High School, with Chicago in the USHL and at Minnesota State, was 13th nationally with 0.77 points per game (7g-20a--27pts).
  • Bowling Green's high-scoring rookie trio included: Brandon Kruse, who was ninth nationally at 0.80 points per game (8g-25a--33pts); Max Johnson, who tied for 18th at 0.73 (13-17--30); and, Cameron Wright, who finished 20th at 0.69 (9-16--25).
  • The Mavericks' freshman group ranked third in the NCAA overall with 3.17 points per game (41g-86a--127pts), while the Falcons' rookies were fourth at 3.00 (42g-81a--123pts).

- Special Teams Prowess: Northern Michigan's Troy Loggins was a special-teams dynamo, leading the country with five short-handed goals and tying for eighth with nine power-play strikes.

  • Minnesota State's Marc Michaelis and Bemidji State senior Kyle Bauman both tied for second nationally with three short-handed goals apiece.
  • Bowling Green's Max Johnson paced NCAA rookies and was seventh overall with 10 power-play goals. UAH's Josh Kestner matched Loggins with nine power-play markers, tied for eighth-most nationally.

- Clutch 'Cats: Northern Michigan sophomore forward Darien Craighead led the NCAA with six game-winning goals, while teammate Troy Loggins was tied for second with five.

  • Five of the duo's combined 11 game-winners snapped a third-period tie and stood as the final goal of the contest, including one in the final second of regulation (Craighead on Oct. 14 vs. Ferris State) and one in overtime (Loggins against Bowling Green in Game 3 of the WCHA semifinals).

- Between the Pipes: Led by Bemidji State senior Michael Bitzer (who set the league's all-time shutout mark), the WCHA again had a stable of outstanding netminders.

  • WCHA Goaltender of the Year Atte Tolvanen won 23 games (tied for fourth nationally), made 736 saves, ranked sixth in the NCAA with a .691 winning percentage (23-10-1) and was 17th with a 2.22 goals-against average.
  • Minnesota State senior Connor LaCouvee, a transfer from Boston University, took charge in the Mavericks' net and led the WCHA with a 1.80 goals-against average (third nationally), 23 wins (tied for fourth) and a .783 winning percentage (second, at 23-6-1). He also ranked second in the WCHA with a .914 save percentage.
  • Bitzer tied for fifth in the country with a WCHA-best five shutouts, while he was 18th with a 2.24 goals-against average.

- League Scoring Ticks Up: An average of 5.51 goals were scored per WCHA regular season league game in 2017-18 (772 total), up 5.6 percent from 2016-17 (5.22 goals-per-game / 731 total) and 10.8 percent from the 2015-16 campaign (4.98 gpg / 697 total).

- Another Thrilling Playoff Chase: Befitting the highly-competitive nature that is a WCHA hallmark, the league entered the final weekend of the regular season with the MacNaughton Cup winner undetermined, six of eight playoff seeds up for grabs and four teams battling for the final three postseason slots.

  • Minnesota State needed every bit of its' 11-game unbeaten streak to end the regular season (10-0-1), holding off second-half charges from Northern Michigan (10-3-1 after Jan. 1) and Bowling Green (12-4-0) to win the MacNaughton Cup. The Mavericks clinched their third title in four seasons with a 2-1 home victory over Bemidji State on the final Friday night.
  • By splitting with Michigan Tech on the regular season's final weekend, Northern Michigan held on to the No. 2 seed over Bowling Green (thereby giving the Wildcats home ice when they faced the Falcons in the semifinal round of the WCHA Playoffs).
  • Alabama Huntsville's Friday-night win over Bowling Green clinched the Chargers' first WCHA postseason berth since 2014-15.
  • In a head-to-head matchup for the final open slot in the WCHA Playoffs, Ferris State -- which began the weekend with a one-point lead over ninth-place Lake Superior State -- swept the visiting Lakers to vault all the way up to the No. 6 seed (and eliminate LSSU).

- Changing of the Guard: The WCHA is excited to welcome two new head coaches for the 2018-19 season, as Matt Curley takes the reins at Alaska Anchorage and Erik Largen ascends to the top role at Alaska.

  • Curley will be a first-year NCAA head coach, coming to UAA after stints with the U.S. National Team Development Program, the USHL, two seasons (2013-15) as an assistant coach at Bentley (Atlantic Hockey) and, most recently, a three-year tenure as head coach of the EC Red Bulls junior team based out of Salzburg, Austria.
  • Largen, a Fairbanks native and former UAF goaltender, takes over the Nanooks' program after two years as an assistant coach, first under Dallas Ferguson (2016-17) and then Lance West (2017-18).
  • Largen (31 years old) and Curley (35) will be the second- and third-youngest head coaches, respectively, in NCAA Division I men's hockey.

Once Around the Rink

Led by Huntsville native Josh Kestner and his 24 goals, UAH won its most games this decade and captured its first-ever WCHA playoff victory.

- UAH: Just four years removed from a two-win season, the Chargers (who have improved their winning percentage each campaign under head coach Mike Corbett) won 12 games (their most since 2009-10) and captured their first-ever WCHA playoff victory, while Josh Kestner earned the highest All-WCHA Team recognition in program history (second-team honors).

- UAA: The Seawolves' season-ending road sweep in Fairbanks was sparked by 76 saves from senior goaltender Olivier Mantha, who departs as the program's all-time leader in saves (3,449), save percentage (.908) and minutes played (6973:22).

- UAF: The Nanooks won their sixth-straight Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup against rival Alaska Anchorage, qualified once again for the WCHA Playoffs and landed a pair of All-WCHA selections -- including first-team defenseman Zach Frye.

- BSU: The Beavers opened the season with a win and tie against eventual national champion Minnesota Duluth, ranked among the top-20 nationally for regular season wins and saw freshman forward Charlie Combs score 13 goals -- the most by a BSU rookie since the 2009-10 season.

- BGSU: The Falcons captured their first-ever Great Lakes Invitational championship (including a victory over eventual Frozen Four participant Michigan) and won a league postseason series for an NCAA-best eighth-straight season (all under head coach Chris Bergeron).

- FSU: The Bulldogs dealt Frozen Four-bound Michigan one of its only five home losses on the season, while qualifying for their conference postseason tournament for the 21st-consecutive campaign.

Lake Superior State goaltender Nick Kossoff's 63-save effort at defending NCAA champion Denver marked the 10th-most stops in WCHA history.

- LSSU: The Lakers nearly rallied themselves back into the WCHA Playoffs with consecutive February road sweeps -- LSSU's first four-game road winning streak since 2011 (including back-to-back shutouts Feb. 2-3 at Bemidji State, the first time in eight years the Lakers held a team scoreless for an entire weekend series).

- MTU: The Huskies went from league tournament fifth seed to back-to-back WCHA playoff champs, a fitting send-off for a senior class that became the first Tech group since 1978 to have a winning record all four seasons, ranked fifth nationally with 97 victories, snapped a 34-year NCAA tournament drought with three appearances and hoisted three league trophies (the MacNaughton Cup as 2015-16 regular season co-champs, the Broadmoor Trophy as 2017 playoff champs and the Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy as 2018 playoff winners).

- MSU: The Mavericks' third MacNaughton Cup in four seasons capped a tremendous run by its 2017-18 senior class, which also won the 2015 Broadmoor Trophy as league playoff champions, made a pair of NCAA tournament appearances and tied for second nationally with 101 victories (matching North Dakota, four behind Denver).

- NMU: While Philip Beaulieu became the Wildcats' first All-American since 2010, the team's six All-WCHA honorees were the most in a single-season in program history (Beaulieu, Darien Craighead, Troy Loggins, Robbie Payne, Adam Rockwood and WCHA Goaltender of the Year Atte Tolvanen).

In the Classroom and In the Community

Olivier Mantha, the 2017-18 WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year, became the first Alaska Anchorage hockey player ever to be named an Academic All-American.

- Google Cloud Academic All-American: Olivier Mantha, the 2017-18 WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year, became the first Alaska Anchorage hockey player ever to be named a Google Cloud Academic All-American. The senior goaltender was a first-team honoree for the Division I Men's At-Large team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

  • Alabama Huntsville junior defenseman John Teets joined Mantha as a Google Cloud Academic All-District honoree.

- Krampade All American Scholars: Fifty-one (51) student-athletes, representing all 10 WCHA Men's League member institutions, were honored as Krampade All American Scholars, as announced by the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA). These outstanding players attained a 3.6 GPA each semester and participated in 40 percent of their school's games during the 2017-18 season.

- Doing It With CLASS: Bemidji State goaltender Michael Bitzer and Bowling Green forward Mitch McLain were among the top-10 finalists for the 2017-18 Senior CLASS Award®, while Ferris State forward Andrew Dorantes was among the top-20 candidates.

- Scholar-Athletes: Eighty-one (81) student-athletes, representing all 10 Men's League member institutions, earned WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award status for maintaining a GPA of 3.50 or above.

- All-Academic Team: One hundred and fifty-one (151) student-athletes, representing all 10 Men's League member institutions, earned a spot on the WCHA All-Academic Team for maintaining a GPA of 3.00 or above.

The Next Level

Alaska Anchorage alumnus Jay Beagle became the first player ever to win the Kelly Cup, the Calder Cup and the Stanley Cup.

- Member-Institution Alumni in the NHL: Twenty-two (22) alumni, representing all 10 current WCHA member institutions, played in the NHL in 2017-18.

  • Alaska Anchorage alumnus Jay Beagle became the first player in history to win the Kelly Cup (ECHL), Calder Cup (AHL) and Stanley Cup (NHL) when he and the Washington Capitals captured their first-ever title.
  • Beagle, who played in 23 of 24 postseason contests, while contributing eight points (2g-6a) and a plus-7 rating, was joined on the Caps by backup goaltender Pheonix Copley (Michigan Tech), goaltending coach Scott Murray (Lake Superior State), associate coach Todd Reirden (Bowling Green) and general manager Brian MacLellan (BGSU).
  • The Western Conference Champion Vegas Golden Knights received 14 points (9g-5a) in 36 regular season games from midseason waiver pickup Ryan Carpenter, then another five points (5a) and a plus-5 rating in postseason play from the Bowling Green alumnus.
  • Ferris State legend Chris Kunitz fell just short in his quest to play for an incredible fifth-straight Stanley Cup, as a successful first season with the Tampa Bay Lightning (13g-17a--30pts, while playing in all 99 games) ended in the Eastern Conference Final.
  • Battling back from both illness and injury, veteran forward David Backes (Minnesota State) still contributed 33 points (14g-19a) in 57 regular season games for the Boston Bruins.
  • Among other WCHA member-institution alumni, Cam Talbot (Alabama Huntsville) made 67 starts in the Edmonton net, while Oilers teammate Jujhar Khaira (Michigan Tech) set career highs with 69 games played, 11 goals, 10 assists and 21 points.
  • Three of the last four WCHA Defensive Players of the Year saw NHL ice last season: Alaska alumnus Colton Parayko, a two-time winner (2014 and 2015), played in all 82 games for the St. Louis Blues and matched his career high with 35 points, while 2016 honoree Casey Nelson (Minnesota State) skated in 37 contests with the Buffalo Sabres and former Mavericks teammate (and 2017 winner) Daniel Brickley picked up an assist in his NHL debut April 5 with the Los Angeles Kings.

- Pro Signings: As previously mentioned, 24 players -- representing all 10 WCHA programs -- signed professional contracts after the 2017-18 college season.

  • Five (5) players signed NHL entry-level contracts: Bemidji State's Zach Whitecloud (Vegas), Michigan Tech's Dane Birks (Pittsburgh) and Mitch Reinke (St. Louis), and Minnesota State's Daniel Brickley (Los Angeles) and C.J. Suess (Winnipeg).
  • Whitecloud, Reinke and Brickley were all undrafted free agents -- and all three made their NHL debuts.

- 2018 NHL Draft: The two opponents from this past spring's Western Conference Final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs each chose forwards with WCHA connections in the 2018 NHL Draft, as Minnesota State commit Nathan Smith was a third-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets (91st overall) and Bowling Green rising sophomore Brandon Kruse was grabbed by the defending conference champion Vegas Golden Knights in the fifth round (135th overall).

Bowling Green's Brandon Kruse, a WCHA All-Rookie Team performer, was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights during the 2018 NHL Draft.

- NHL Development Camps: Thirty-seven (37) players with ties to WCHA programs – including 24 slated to skate in the league this upcoming season – were invited to participate in 2018 NHL Development Camps.

  • The 24 players expected to be on 2018-19 WCHA rosters feature 10 underclassmen (five incoming freshmen and five sophomores), along with eight juniors and six seniors.
  • Bowling Green, which has produced four-straight 20-win seasons, led the WCHA with nine current, former and incoming players. Back-to-back WCHA Postseason Tournament champion Michigan Tech and defending MacNaughton Cup winner Minnesota State were tied for second with seven players apiece, while Northern Michigan had six players from its 25-win, WCHA tournament runner-up squad earn invites.

- International Competition: The international season was highlighted by the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Five players from current WCHA institutions competed: Alaska Anchorage's Mat Robinson (Canada) and Luka Vidmar (Slovenia), Bemidji State's Matt Dalton (Korea), Ferris State's Chad Billins (United States) and Northern Michigan's Erik Gustafsson (Sweden).

  • Four players participated in the 2018 IIHF World Championship, held in Denmark: Alaska's Colton Parayko (Canada), Bemidji State's Dalton (Korea), Bowling Green's Ralfs Freibergs (Latvia) and Minnesota State's Marc Michaelis (Germany). Also, Team USA was led by a pair of former Ferris State players in head coach Jeff Blashill and assistant Seth Appert.
  • Minnesota State bench boss and two-time WCHA Coach of the Year Mike Hastings has been named head coach for the 2019 U.S. National Junior Team. Originally selected as an assistant coach for the squad, Hastings was elevated by USA Hockey to the head role in May.
  • Bowling Green rising sophomore Brandon Kruse was invited to the 2018 World Junior Summer Showcase, held July 28-Aug. 4.

Tradition Starts Here

Ferris State, which has advanced to three NCAA tournaments the past seven years, is among the nation's winningest teams since 2013-14.

- Among the Best: Four (4) of the nation's top-20 winningest teams since 2013-14 play in the WCHA, including three in the top-15.

  • Minnesota State has gone 127-58-16 (.672) to lead all NCAA Division I hockey programs in victories over the last five seasons, while Michigan Tech (111-70-26, .599) is tied with Notre Dame for 10th, Bowling Green (107-70-25, .592) is tied with Air Force and Robert Morris for 14th, and Ferris State (94-88-17, .515) is tied with Clarkson for 20th.

- Horns Up: No team in the country has won more games over the last six seasons than Minnesota State, which is 151-72-19 (.663) under head coach Mike Hastings. The Mavericks have recorded a program-record six-consecutive 20-win seasons, while making three NCAA tournament appearances, winning three MacNaughton Cups and capturing two WCHA Postseason Tournament titles.

- 20-20-20-20: Bowling Green (23-12-6) and Michigan Tech (22-17-5) both reached the 20-win plateau for the fourth-consecutive season in 2017-18. The Falcons last achieved that feat during a nine-year stretch under legendary head coach Jerry York between 1981-82 and 1989-90; the Huskies, not since Hall of Fame bench boss John MacInnes led Tech to 118 victories between the 1972-73 and 1975-76 campaigns, a run that included two WCHA regular season titles and three-straight NCAA Frozen Four appearances (including the 1975 national championship).

  • Michigan Tech is fifth nationally with 97 wins over the last four seasons (97-51-19, .638), while Bowling Green is 12th at 89-55-19 (.604).
  • Minnesota State is tied with North Dakota for second over that same span with 101 wins (101-44-15, .678).