WCHA Week 3: League Play Begins With Four WCHA Series; Conference Has NCAA-Best Four Ranked Teams
Wisconsin hosts Ohio State in a WCHA series this weekend

Opening Face-Off

- 17-3-2: The eight teams of the women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) have jumped out to a quick start to the 2015-16 campaign, posting an NCAA-best 17-3-2 (.818) mark over 22 nonconference games. Six of the league's teams went undefeated during the first round of nonconference play, while the entire membership is .500 or better entering the first weekend of WCHA competition.

- Leading at the Polls: The WCHA has an NCAA-best four teams in both the USCHO.com (tied with ECAC Hockey) and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls. Minnesota remains the unanimous No. 1 in both rankings, followed by No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 6 North Dakota and No. 9 Bemidji State. Minnesota Duluth is receiving votes in both polls, while St. Cloud State also received votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine ledger.

- Lighting the Lamp: While still very early, WCHA teams have displayed some explosive offenses. Six schools are ranked in the top 10 nationally by averaging 3.0 goals per game or more, paced by NCAA leaders Wisconsin (6.50) and St. Cloud State (6.0).

- Welcome Home: Minnesota State will join the Mavericks' men's program at the Verizon Wireless Center in downtown Mankato, departing All Seasons Arena and playing their first games in the newly renovated facility this weekend. After not winning their second game until Jan. 9 last season (in their 19th game), the Mavericks and first-year head coach John Harrington are 2-1-1 through four games.

- California Dreamin': Four-time national champion Wisconsin brought WCHA hockey to California this past weekend, playing Providence in a pair of games at Sharks Ice in San Jose. Sophomore forward Annie Pankowski, a Golden State native, led the third-ranked Badgers to a sweep with a five-point weekend (4g, 1a) that included her third career hat trick in a Saturday victory. The 2015 National Rookie of the Year now has 16 goals in her last 17 games.

- Comeback Kids: Four WCHA teams combined for five comeback wins last weekend. St. Cloud State rallied twice, erasing a two-goal, third-period deficit Friday and an early 1-0 hole Saturday. North Dakota also bounced back from a 2-0 hole Friday, while Wisconsin and Ohio State rolled to wins after surrendering the first goal.

- Turn on the TV: No. 3 Wisconsin and Ohio State, a pair of teams that swept season-opening series last weekend, will be showcased on BTN as the network airs a live broadcast of Sunday's tilt from LaBahn Arena.

- Impressive Debuts: WCHA freshmen have combined to produce 13 goals and 17 assists on the young season, led by three points each from Ohio State forward Maddy Field (2g, 1a) and Minnesota forward Sarah Potomak (1g, 2a). St. Cloud State rookie goaltender Taylor Crosby earned the win in her debut Saturday, stopping 21-of-23 shots.

- Red, White and Blue (with Bemidji State green) in Sweden: Twelve (12) current and former WCHA student-athletes were named to the 23-player USA Hockey roster for the upcoming Four Nations Cup, to be held Nov. 4-8 in Sweden. Bemidji State senior forward Stephanie Anderson, a gold medalist with Team USA at the 2015 Worlds, is the lone active player on the roster.

By the Numbers

- 92 and 223: Career goals and points for Minnesota senior forward Hannah Brandt, who matched UMD's Caroline Ouellette (2002-05) for the 12th-most goals in WCHA history (16 players) with a two-score effort Friday at Penn State. The NCAA's active career scoring leader, Brandt's point total ranks 16th in NCAA history.

The Week Ahead

- First WCHA Weekend: Following two weekends of nonconference play, the race for the WCHA regular season championship begins with four league series. Minnesota State opens the women's hockey era at the Verizon Wireless Center by welcoming No. 6 North Dakota, No. 9 Bemidji State hosts Minnesota Duluth (who will travel for the third straight weekend to open the season - a first in program history), St. Cloud State visits top-ranked Minnesota and Ohio State travels to No. 3 Wisconsin.

The Week in Review

- No. 1 Minnesota (at Penn State), No. 3 Wisconsin (at Providence), No. 6 North Dakota (at Rensselaer), St. Cloud State (at Merrimack) and Ohio State (at Lindenwood) all opened up the 2015-2016 regular season with series sweeps over their opponents.

- No. 9 Bemidji State continued their early season success by completing a road sweep at Vermont

- Minnesota State (at RIT), and Minnesota Duluth (at No. 2 Boston College) suffered their first losses of the season, with Minnesota State splitting their series and Minnesota Duluth dropping a pair to the Eagles.

- Full recaps and box scores are available at wcha.com.

No. 1 Minnesota 2, at Penn State 0
No. 1 Minnesota 5, at Penn State 0
(Oct. 1 and 2 at Pegula Ice Arena; University Park, PA)

The defending national champion Gophers had a season-opening series sweep on the road, led by a high-powered offense and stellar goaltending which did not allow a single goal all series.

Minnesota maintained a 1-0 lead from Milica McMillen's second-period, power-play goal, until freshman Sarah Potomak sealed the win with an empty-net goal in the final minute of Thursday's series opener. The Gophers outshout Penn State 43-20, with goaltender Amanda Leveille posting her 23rd career shutout in a 2-0 win.

Five Gophers recorded multi-point games in Friday's 5-0 victory, led by Hannah Brandt and Kelly Pannek each scoring twice. Megan Wolfe also added a goal and assist, while both Lee Stecklein and Potomak finished with a pair of assists. The Gophers outshot Penn State 38-7 in their Friday win, with Sidney Peters picking up her third career shutout.

No. 3 Wisconsin 5, vs Providence 1
No. 3 Wisconsin 8, vs Providence 1
(Oct. 2 and 3 at Sharks Ice; San Jose, Calif.)

Wisconsin opened up their regular season with a high-scoring sweep over Providence in a West Coast series held in San Jose, Calif. The Badgers only allowed two goals over the weekend, while scoring 13 times, including a Saturday hat trick from Annie Pankowski.

Friday's 5-1 win was led by forward Mikayla Johnson, who recorded a goal and two assists, while Mellissa Channell also added two assists for the Badgers. Wisconsin goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens saved 18 of 19 shots in addition to helping the Badgers kill all five of their penalties.

Wisconsin completed their sweep Saturday with a commanding 8-1 win, putting 47 shots on goal while only allowing 11. Scoring was led by Pankowski's hat trick, a pair of goals from Sarah Nurse, one from Emily Clarke, and one each from freshmen Sam Cogan and Sophia Shaver (marking the first career goal for both).

No. 6 North Dakota 4, at Rensselaer 3
No. 6 North Dakota 4, at Rensselaer 1
(Oct. 2 and 3 at the Houston Field House; Troy, N.Y.)

North Dakota started off their regular season with a road sweep over Rensselaer, with over 10 skaters recording a point between the two games.

UND went down 2-0 in the first period Friday, but senior Sam LaShomb started the comeback by one-timing a pass from Kayla Gardner into the back of the net. Halli Krzyzaniak scored the tying and go-ahead goals in the second period, before Becca Kohler snapped a 3-3 tie with the game-winner at the 18:01 mark of the third.

North Dakota completed the sweep Saturday night with a total of nine different players recording a point, including two-point efforts from Meghan Dufault, Anna Kilponen and Amy Menke. Lexie Shaw got the start in the net for North Dakota, stopping 21 of 22 shots and helping fight off six penalty kills in a 4-1 win.

No. 9 Bemidji State 2, at Vermont 1
No. 9 Bemidji State 3, at Vermont 0
(Oct. 2 and 3 at Gutterson Fieldhouse; Burlington, Vt.)

Bemidji State held their opponent to only one goal throughout the weekend series, earning their first sweep of the 2015-2016 season.

The Beavers stared strong Friday with two first period goals scored by Emma Terres and Madison Hutchinson to give the Beavers a 2-0 lead. Bemidji State outshot Vermont 33 – 12, with BSU goalie Brittni Mowat only allowing one goal in Friday night's 2 -1 win.

Bemidji State had 8 skaters tally points during Saturday's 3-0 win, including Hutchinson recording two points for the second consecutive game with a pair of assists. Ciscely Nelson, Kristin Huber and Hanna Moher each scored a goal for the Beavers, and Mowat earned her 11th career shutout by stopping all 24 shots she faced.

at No. 2 Boston College 4, Minnesota Duluth 1
at No. 2 Boston College 4, Minnesota Duluth 2
(Oct. 2 and 3 at Conte Forum Ice Rink; Chestnut Hill, Mass.)

Minnesota Duluth played No. 2 Boston College in two hard-fought games closer than the score indicated, but the Bulldogs were unable to get a win and suffered their first two losses of the season.

A late third period goal from Lara Stalder was not enough on Friday. However, senior goaltender Kayla Black became the UMD's all-time goalie leader by playing in her 105th career game.

Minnesota Duluth outshot Boston College 34-33 on Saturday, including a 14-7 margin in the third period. Michela Cava and Maria Lindh both scored for UMD, briefly bringing the Bulldogs back within a goal both times.

at RIT 2, Minnesota State 1
Minnesota State 4, at RIT 2
(Oct. 2 and 3 at Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Arena; Rochester, N.Y.)

With a loss in the closing seconds of the game on Friday night, Minnesota State was able to rally back Saturday for a win and a series split with RIT.

Minnesota State struck first in the third period of Friday's game with a goal from Elin Johansson, but it only lasted a couple minutes until RIT tied the game up 1-1. With only 20 seconds left, RIT shot the puck past the screened goalie Brianna Quade and took the first game of the series.

The Mavericks responded Sunday behind stout goaltending from Quade, and a goal and assist from forward Hannah Davidson. Minnesota State was outshot 35-27, but Quade kept them in the game by stopping 33 shots. Emily Harris, Johansson and Jordan McLaughlin each contributed with a goal to propel the Mavericks to a 4-2 win.

Ohio State 5, at Lindenwood 1
Ohio State 3, at Lindenwood 2
(Oct. 2 and 3 at Lindenwood Ice Arena; Wentzville, Mo.)

Under new head coach Jenny Potter, Ohio State began its 2015-2016 regular season by sweeping Lindenwood on the road.

The Buckeyes started off slow during Friday night's game, letting up an early goal in the first period, but the rest of the game was all Ohio State. The scoring started late in the first period with the tying goal from Maggie Rothgery, and continued with a four goal second period with tallies from Katie Matheny, Lauren Spring, Kendall Curtis and Maddy Field. Goalie Stacy Danczak also had a great game for the Buckeyes, stopping 31 of 32 shots, including 14 saves in the third period to help Ohio State hold on.

Two goals from Curtis and one from Field helped lead Ohio State to a 3-2 win and series sweep Saturday night. Lindenwood was able to cut the lead to one goal early in the third period, but was unable to score again with an empty net. Ohio State outshot Lindenwood 28-18.

St. Cloud State 6, at Merrimack 4
St. Cloud State 6, at Merrimack 2
(Oct. 2 and 3 at Lawler Rink; North Andover, Mass.)

Led by the Huskies defensemen, St. Cloud State was able to open up their regular season with a road sweep against Merrimack.

Senior blue liner Lexi Slattery was the hero of Friday night's game, recording a pair of goals and four points – including a score and assist within two minutes of the third period – to help the Huskies erase a 4-2 deficit in a 6-4 win. Caroline Markström and Christa Moody each scored their first career goal, with Moody's being the game-winning goal scored with 6:11 remaining in the game.

The Huskies gave up an early goal just 25 seconds into Saturday's game, but responded later in the first with goals from Alexandra Makaric and Julia Tylke. With the game tied 2-2, freshman Hannah Potrykus scored her first career and game-winning goal in the middle of the second. Defenseman Brittney Anderson and Molly Illikanen each recorded three assists, while Payge Pena, Alyssa Erickson and Suvi Ollikainen all recorded a goal on the scoring sheet. Freshman goaltender Taylor Crosby, making her collegiate debut, stopped 21-of-23 shots to earn the win.