- WCHA Leading at the Polls: The nation's top women's college hockey conference continues to set this season's standard in the opinion polls, with the WCHA matching ECAC Hockey with four ranked teams in both the USCHO.com and USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings: No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 3 Minnesota, No. 7 Bemidji State and No. 8 North Dakota.
- Winning Hockey: Not surprisingly, five of the NCAA's top-16 winning percentages also belong to WCHA teams: Wisconsin (second at .942, 24-1-1), Minnesota (tied for third at .880, 22-3-0), Bemidji State (eighth at .692, 17-7-2), North Dakota (12th at .659, 13-8-3) and St. Cloud State (16th at .500, 11-11-3).
- Johnson, Frost Earn Milestone Wins: With Wisconsin's 3-1 victory Jan. 24 over North Dakota, Badgers' head coach Mark Johnson moved into sole possession of third place on the all-time NCAA Division I women's hockey wins list - most in WCHA history - with 384 (now 384-72-36 in his 13 seasons in Madison). Minnesota's 7-0 triumph Jan. 22 at St. Cloud State was the 279th for Gophers' head coach Brad Frost, making him the winningest bench boss in program history (now 280-44-21 in his nine seasons in Minneapolis).
- Playoff Home-Ice: The two teams atop the league standings, front-running Wisconsin and second-place Minnesota, have each clinched home-ice for the first round of the 2016 WCHA playoffs. With 56 and 51 points, respectively, the Badgers and Gophers are both assured of finishing in the top four of the league's regular season ledger.
- Brandt Watch: One of the all-time great players in WCHA history, Minnesota senior forward Hannah Brandt continues to move up the league and NCAA record books. Entering this weekend, she ranks sixth in WCHA history (since 1999-2000) with 111 career goals (Monique Lamoureux, who scored 113 with UMN and UND, is fifth), second with 156 assists (four shy of Jocelyne Lamoureux, who holds the league record with 160 during her career with UMN and UND) and second with 267 points (18 behind J. Lamoureux's league-record 285). In NCAA Division I history (since 2000-01), Brandt is 10th for goals (M. Lamoureux and Dartmouth's Katie Weatherston are tied for eighth), third for assists (J. Lamoureux is second) and fourth for points (J. Lamoureux and Harvard's Julie Chu are tied for second).
- Quickly Around the WCHA: BEMIDJI STATE completed the first season sweep of UMD in program history with a pair of wins in Duluth last weekend ... MINNESOTA linemates Hannah Brandt (21g-25a), Dani Cameranesi (24g-27a) and Sarah Potomak (11g-34a) are among the nation's top five leading scorers, ranked third, fourth, and fifth in points per game, respectively; the Gophers lead the country by scoring 5.40 goals per game ... MINNESOTA DULUTH junior F Ashleigh Brykaliuk had her 11-game point streak - the second-longest by a Bulldog since 2011 - snapped Saturday; she accumulated 19 points on five goals and 14 assists during the run ... One of MINNESOTA STATE'S talented rookies, freshman F Emily Antony, has seven points over the last four games (3g-4a) ... NORTH DAKOTA'S blue-liners, who have played a big role in the Fighting Hawks ranking eighth nationally for scoring defense (1.79gpg), have also contributed offensively, with six of seven recording points ... OHIO STATE has moved up to third in the WCHA with 60 goals and an average of 2.31 markers per game (17th nationally) ... ST. CLOUD STATE is in the midst of potentially four-straight weekends against ranked opponents, heading to No. 2 Wisconsin this week after host No. 3 Minnesota last weekend (with series vs. No. 7 Bemidji State and at No. 8 North Dakota upcoming) ... WISCONSIN leads the NCAA in penalty killing with a .946 clip, while the Badgers have scored more short-handed goals (six) than they have allowed power-play markers (four).
By the Numbers
- 0.67, .964, 12 and 22: NCAA-leading goals-against average, save percentage, shutouts and wins (tied) for sensational Wisconsin junior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens. Both the GAA and save percentage numbers are on pace to set NCAA single-season records, while she is tied for seventh on the shutout list.
The Week Ahead
- No. 3 Minnesota at No. 7 Bemidji State: The nearly-weekly all-WCHA, top-10 matchup moves to Bemidji, Minn. for a series between the No. 3 Gophers and No. 7 Beavers at the Sanford Center. Minnesota swept BSU back on Nov. 13-14 at Ridder Arena (4-0 and 8-3).
- Ohio State at Minnesota Duluth: Former UMD All-American Jenny Potter, who totaled 256 points (108g-148a) in a Bulldogs uniform between 1999-2004, returns to Duluth for the first time as head coach of the Buckeyes. UMD won both games in Columbus back on Dec. 11 (4-2) and Dec. 12 (5-2).
- Minnesota State at No. 8 North Dakota: The Fighting Hawks will host a regular season home series for the first time since Dec. 11-12, welcoming Minnesota State to the Ralph. Eight of the Mavericks' last nine games have been decided by two-goals or less, including seven one-goal decisions and a pair of ties.
- St. Cloud State at No. 2 Wisconsin: The Badgers have won a program-record 18-straight home games, a streak that began following a 2-1 loss on Feb. 20, 2015 to none other than St. Cloud State. Prior to Saturday's game, UW will honor its 2005-06 NCAA championship team, a squad that went 36-4-1 en route to the school's first national title in women's hockey.
The Week in Review
- No. 2 Wisconsin ran its program-record home unbeaten streak to 18 games after a pair of thrilling wins over No. 8 North Dakota at LaBahn Arena.
- Behind stellar goaltending from Brittni Mowat and timely scoring, No. 7 Bemidji State completed its first-ever season series sweep of Minnesota Duluth with a pair of victories at AMSOIL Arena.
- Ohio State earned its first undefeated WCHA road weekend of the season, collecting five points at Minnesota State.
- No. 3 Minnesota continued its run of success against St. Cloud State, posting a pair of victories on the Huskies' home ice.
- Full recaps and box scores are available at wcha.com.
at No. 2 Wisconsin 1, No. 8 North Dakota 0
at No. 2 Wisconsin 3, No. 8 North Dakota 1
(Jan. 23 and 24 at LaBahn Arena; Madison, Wis.)
No. 2 Wisconsin ran its program-record home unbeaten streak to 18 games after a pair of thrilling wins over No. 8 North Dakota at LaBahn Arena.
Saturday's series opener was a duel between a pair of the nation's top goaltenders, with the Badgers' Ann-Renée Desbiens collecting 29 saves (including 12 in the third period) en route to a 1-0 shutout, her NCAA-leading 12th clean slate of the season. Fighting Hawks senior Shelby Amsley-Benzie was nearly as good, making 31 stops. UW's Erika Sowchuck scored the game's only goal 3:34 into the contest, ensuring a capacity crowd of 2,273 fans.
Emily Clark played the hero before another packed house Sunday afternoon, snapping a 1-1 tie with the game-winning, power-play goal with just 1:12 remaining in regulation. Sarah Nurse gave the Badgers a 1-0 lead deep into the second period, but Becca Kohler scored on a power play to the game with 1:27 gone in the final stanza. Annie Pankowski added an empty-netter for the final 3-1 margin. Both Desbiens (27 saves) and Amsley-Benzie (31) were once again outstanding. UW head coach Mark Johnson moved into sole possession of third place on the all-time NCAA Division I women's hockey wins list with the victory, the 384th of his career.
No. 7 Bemidji State 3, at Minnesota Duluth 2
No. 7 Bemidji State 2, at Minnesota Duluth 0
(Jan. 22 and 23 at AMSOIL Arena; Duluth, Minn.)
Behind stellar goaltending from Brittni Mowat and timely scoring, No. 7 Bemidji State completed its first-ever season series sweep of Minnesota Duluth with a pair of victories at AMSOIL Arena.
Lara Stalder gave UMD an early lead Friday with a goal 19 seconds into the game, but Bemidji State answered with the next three scores. Kristin Huber tied the score early in the second period and freshman Melissa Hunt gave the Beavers a 2-1 lead with her first collegiate goal later in the frame, before Huber notched the eventual game-winner on a power play just 29 seconds into the final period. Stalder also scored her second goal at the 10:19 mark of the third to pull the Bulldogs within one, but Mowat (26 saves) closed out the BSU win.
Mowat recorded her fifth shutout of the season (15th career) in the series finale, stopping all 27 shots she faced in the 2-0 victory. BSU's Kaitlyn Tougas snapped a scoreless tie with a power-play goal at the 9:38 mark of the second period, while Madison Hutchinson added an insurance marker in the third.
Ohio State 3, at Minnesota State 3 - OT (OSU won the shootout, 2-1)
Ohio State 8, at Minnesota State 3
(Jan. 22 and 23 at Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn.)
Ohio State earned its first undefeated WCHA road weekend of the season, collecting five points at Minnesota State.
The Buckeyes snapped a nine-game conference losing streak Friday with a 3-3 tie, while capturing the shootout for an extra point. Minnesota State rallied twice for a point of their own. OSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead at the first intermission thanks to goals by Kendall Curtis and Erin Langermeier (first career marker). The host Mavericks then received goals from freshmen Emily Antony and Jordan McLaughlin (at the 13:45 mark of the third period) to forge a tie. Melani Moylan put OSU back on top, but a third Mavs rookie, Amanda Martin, scored a clutch, power-play goal with under two minute remaining in regulation for the tie. Alex LaMere made 32 saves for OSU.
OSU enjoyed its highest offensive output since January 2014 in the series finale, never trailing en route to an 8-3 win. Senior forward Julia McKinnon and junior Claudia Kepler both matched their career high with four-point efforts, each logging two goals and two assists apiece. Katie Matheny also tied her career high with two goals, while defenseman Jessica Dunne established her collegiate standard with three assists. OSU scored twice in a 21-second span of the first period to take a 2-0 lead and, after MSU rallied to tie heading into the first intermission, the Buckeyes scored the game's final six goals.
No. 3 Minnesota 7, at St. Cloud State 0
No. 3 Minnesota 4, at St. Cloud State 2
(Jan. 22 and 23 at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center; St. Cloud, Minn.)
No. 3 Minnesota continued its run of success against St. Cloud State, posting a pair of victories on the Huskies' home ice.
Freshman Sarah Potomak led the Gophers with five points in the Gophers' 7-0 win in game one of the series, scoring twice and adding three assists. Hannah Brandt notched the game-winning goal in her return after missing two series due to injury, while Amanda Leveille earned an 18-save shutout to improve to 16-3-0 on the year. The victory was the 279th for Gophers' head coach Brad Frost, the most in program history.
In game two, Minnesota scored three power-play goals to secure a 4-2 win. The Gophers took a 3-0 lead on goals by Milica McMillen, Cara Piazza and Taylor Williamson, before SCSU got on the board in the second minute of the third period. Dani Cameranesi then scored a power-play goal to regain the three-goal lead. The Huskies made it a two-goal game midway through the third, but the Gophers prevailed for the series sweep. Sidney Peters made 12 saves for the win, while SCSU netminder Katie Fitzgerald recorded 34 stops. Lauren Hespenheide and Suvi Ollikainen both scored for the Huskies.