Topping the Polls: The WCHA enters the second half of the season with three teams in the top-eight of both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls - No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 2 Minnesota, and No. 8 Ohio State.
- Those same three teams begin 2019 among the top-eight in the PairWise Rankings. The Badgers are No. 1, the Gophers are No. 3 and the Buckeyes are No. 7.
Minnesota Cup, Powered by GELSTX, Kicks Off Saturday: The highlight of the first full weekend of WCHA play in the new year is the inaugural Minnesota Cup tournament, Powered by GELSTX.
- The two-day, four-team event will be held Jan. 5-6 at the University of Minnesota's Ridder Arena and features Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State, St. Cloud State and the host Golden Gophers.
Second Half Gets Underway: In addition to the Minnesota Cup, this weekend's action also includes a non-conference series, with Bemidji State hosting Union (N.Y.), and an exhibition double-dip as Ohio State hosts the Minnesota Whitecaps of the NWHL in Columbus.
Winning Hockey: Fifteen (15) NCAA Division I programs have winning percentages of .500 or better, with four of those hailing from the WCHA.
- Wisconsin leads the country with 19 victories and tops D-I with a .944 winning percentage (19-1-0). Minnesota is second at .875 (17-2-1), Ohio State is eighth (.700, 14-6-0) and Minnesota State is 14th (.528, 8-7-3).
- The Badgers (11-straight wins) and Gophers (10-straight victories) have the nation's longest active winning streaks, and the second- and third-longest unbeaten runs, respectively (Princeton is 9-0-3 in its last 12 games).
- The Mavericks entered the holiday break with a winning record for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
December Players of the Month: Wisconsin's Annie Pankowski (Forward), Minnesota State's Anna Wilgren (Defenseman) and Abigail Levy (Goaltender) and Minnesota forward Amy Potomak (Rookie) are the WCHA December Players of the Month, Powered by GoodWood Hockey .
BY THE NUMBERS
36: NCAA-best non-conference wins for the WCHA this season, which also has the country's best out-of-conference winning percentage at .740 (36-12-2).
17: Points by Ohio State defenseman Jincy Dunne, which leads all WCHA blueliners heading into the second half.
11: Number of Minnesota skaters who have scored four goals in a game this season. Twenty-one different players have posted at least one point for the Golden Gophers in 2018-19.
4: Points separate the top-three teams in the WCHA standings entering the season's second half. The league's regular season champion earns an automatic spot in the 2019 WCHA Final Faceoff.
1: St. Cloud State ranks No. 1 nationally in team saves this season with 853.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Minnesota Cup: Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State and St. Cloud State will face off in the inaugural Minnesota Cup, Powered by GELSTX, Jan. 5-6 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
- Saturday's schedule will see Minnesota State tangle with St. Cloud State at 1:07 p.m. CT, followed by the Bulldogs and Gophers at 4:07 p.m.
- Sunday's games will also take place at 1:07 and 4:07 p.m. CT with Minnesota Duluth facing either the Mavericks or Huskies in the opener and the Gophers playing in the nightcap.
Bemidji State Hosts Union in Non-Conference Action: Bemidji State will open the second half of its season with a non-conference series against Union, Friday and Saturday at the Sanford Center in Bemidji.
- The series between the Beavers and the Dutchwomen will be the first meeting between the two programs.
- In its final series before the holiday break, Bemidji State split a pair of road meetings with Mercyhurst, dropping a 3-0 decision on Dec. 7 before rebounding with a 3-1 win the following day.
Ohio State Meets the Minnesota Whitecaps in an Exhibition Series: The Ohio State Buckeyes return to action this weekend, hosting a two-game exhibition set with the NWHL's Minnesota Whitecaps on Saturday and Sunday at the OSU Ice Rink.
- Sophomore Emma Maltais begins the second half of the season with a WCHA-leading 28 points and 1.40 ppg average. The Burlington, Ont., native also shares the league lead in assists (19) and assists per game (0.95).