WCHA Weekend Preview: Jan. 29 - 31, 2016
News and notes for the upcoming weekend of WCHA hockey
Minnesota Duluth hosts Ohio State this weekend

Opening Face-Off

- 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).

- 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.

- 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.

All rankings listed by USCHO.com poll first, followed by USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll


No. 3 Minnesota (17-3-0-0, 51 pts. / 22-3-0) at No. 7 Bemidji State (12-7-1-0, 37 pts. / 17-7-2)
Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn. – Fri., Jan. 29 at 7:07 p.m. CT and Sat., Jan. 30 at 4:07 p.m. CT

- 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).

- Both teams are coming off road sweeps, as UMN won twice at St. Cloud State and BSU earned six points at Minnesota Duluth.

- BSU junior G Brittni Mowat led the Beavers in their series sweep of Duluth with two wins and tallied 1.00 goals against average and a .964 save percentage.

- Behind Mowat, BSU has moved up to ninth nationally for scoring defense (1.85 gapg).

- Minnesota senior F Hannah Brandt enters the weekend sixth in WCHA history (10th NCAA) with 111 career goals, second in league annals (third NCAA) with 156 assists and second all-time among WCHA players with 267 points (fourth NCAA).

- The Gophers lead the nation in scoring offense (5.40 gpg) and power-play efficiency (47.2 percent, 34-for-72). Junior F Dani Cameranesi is tops in the NCAA with 11 power-play goals.

- Including the sweep earlier this year, Minnesota leads the all-time series, 62-6-7.

Ohio State (4-15-1-1, 14 pts. / 8-17-1) at Minnesota Duluth (6-13-1-0, 19 pts. / 9-16-1)
AMSOIL Arena; Duluth, Minn. – Fri., Jan. 29 at 7:07 p.m. CT and Sat., Jan. 30 at 4:07 p.m. CT

- 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).

- OSU snapped a nine-game conference losing streak and enjoyed its first undefeated league weekend of the season Jan. 22-23, earning five points at Minnesota State. UMD, dropped a pair of home games to Bemidji State.

- OSU senior F Julia McKinnon was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week after her five-point performance against Minnesota State last weekend.

- In their eight games since the calendar turned to 2016, the Buckeyes have the eighth-best power play percentage in the nation (.211).

- Minnesota Duluth's busy first line of Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Michela Cava and Lara Stalder put together at least one point together in 11-straight games between Nov. 27-Jan. 22, including 19 from Brykaliuk (5g-14a).

- Brykaliuk is tied for 17th nationally by averaging 1.19 points per game, while Stalder is 16th with 0.56 goals per contest.

Minnesota State (0-18-2-0, 2 pts. / 3-20-3) at No. 8 North Dakota (10-7-3-1, 34 pts. / 13-8-3)
Ralph Engelstad Arena; Grand Forks, N.D. – Fri., Jan. 29 at 7:07 p.m. CT & Sat., Jan. 30 at 4:07 p.m. CT

- The eighth-ranked Fighting Hawks will host a regular season home series for the first time since Dec. 11-12, welcoming Minnesota State to the Ralph.

- Both teams are looking to rebound, as MSU was held to one point at home against Ohio State and UND lost a pair of tight contests at No. 2 Wisconsin.

- One of the many talented rookies for Minnesota State, Emily Antony, has been on a hot streak lately with a 3-4 – 7 point total in the last four games.

- 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.

- With 333 blocked shots on the season, North Dakota is eighth in the NCAA for most blocked shots by a team, averaging 15.42 per game.

- UND junior F Amy Menke is tied for 28th in the NCAA with 26 points and her 1.18 points-per-game average ranks 26th in the nation.

- North Dakota skated to 2-1 and 4-2 victories over the Mavericks on Oct. 9 and 10 in Mankato.

St. Cloud State (7-10-3-3, 27 pts. / 11-11-3) at No. 2 Wisconsin (18-1-1-1, 56 pts. / 24-1-1)
LaBahn Arena; Madison, Wis. – Sat., Jan. 30 at 2:07 p.m. CT and Sun., Jan. 31 at 12:07 p.m. CT

- The third-ranked 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.

- SCSU was swept at home by No. 3 Minnesota last weekend, while UW earned a pair of home wins over No. 8 North Dakota.

- The Huskies are in the midst of potentially four-straight weekends against ranked opponents, with series vs. No. 7 Bemidji State and at No. 8 North Dakota upcoming.

- SCSU junior F Molly Illikainen is 14th nationally with 0.61 goals per game and 23 with 1.13 points per contest, while F Julia Tylke is ninth among NCAA freshmen (second WCHA) by averaging 0.75 points per game.

- UW enters the weekend leading the country in scoring defense with a goals-against average of 0.62. Wisconsin has posted shutouts in 14 of its 26 games this season.

- The Cardinal and White also ranks fourth in the country for scoring offense, averaging 4.04 goals per contest. Sophomore F Annie Pankowski, who is ninth nationally with an average of 1.58 points per game, has 41 total points (17g-24a) – just two shy of matching the output of her 2014-15 National Rookie of the Year campaign.

- The Badgers lead the all-time series with the Huskies 64-8-2 and UW has won the last five meetings between the two teams, including a 5-0, 2-0 sweep Oct. 16 and 17 in St. Cloud.