- Top Three and Four-of-Ten: The top three teams, and four-of-10, in the national opinion polls are women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) programs. The four WCHA representatives match ECAC Hockey for the most of any conference.
- Wisconsin remains No. 1 in the USCHO.com and USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings, followed by No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Minnesota Duluth and No. 10 North Dakota.
- A fifth WCHA team, Ohio State, is receiving votes in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine poll.
- Winning Hockey: Five-of-eight WCHA teams (62.5 percent) are at .500-or-above, the highest percentage among the four D-I women's conferences (Hockey East is next at 55.6 percent, followed by ECAC Hockey at 50 percent).
- Wisconsin ranks second nationally with an .861 winning percentage (15-2-2). Minnesota is fourth at .833 (14-2-2), Minnesota Duluth is seventh at .750 (12-3-3), North Dakota is 15th at .528 (7-6-5) and Ohio State is tied for 16th at .500 (8-8-2).
- The Badgers and Bulldogs have achieved that success despite playing the nation's toughest and third-toughest schedules, respectively, according to the RPI ratings' Strength-of-Schedule ledger. The Fighting Hawks are eighth, the Gophers are 11th and Ohio State is 14th.
- Horns Up: With four wins overall and two in WCHA play, Minnesota State has already surpassed its victory total from all the entire 2015-16 season (3-29-4) and has its most league triumphs since the 2013-14 campaign (7-20-1).
- Under second-year head coach John Harrington, the Mavericks have two of their last three WCHA games and are 2-2-1 in their last five games overall.
- With a 2-1 victory over Ohio State on Nov. 19, Minnesota State snapped a 46-game WCHA winless streak (0-42-4) that dated back to Feb. 5, 2015. The Mavericks then defeated Bemidji State last Saturday, giving the program more league victories in two weekends than it had in the previous two years combined (1-51-4 in 2014-15 and 2015-16).
- Bulldog and Buckeye Turnarounds: Two other WCHA teams are also closing in on their league and/or overall win totals from 2015-16.
- After posting a 15-21-1 (10-17-1) mark in Maura Crowell's first season at the helm, No. 3 Minnesota Duluth is already 12-3-3 (9-3-2) in 2016-17. The Bulldogs are 9-1-2 in their last 12 contests.
- First-year head coach Nadine Muzerall has Ohio State at 8-8-2 (4-8-2) the season after the Buckeyes finished 10-25-1 (6-21-1).
- 200 for Cameranesi: With the primary assist on the Gophers' game-winning goal last Saturday at No. 1 Wisconsin, Minnesota senior forward Dani Cameranesi became the 19th player in WCHA history (since the 1999-2000 season) to record 200 career points.
- A two-time Patty Kazmaier Award top-10 finalist, second-team All-American and first-team All-WCHA performer, and the 2013-14 National and WCHA Rookie of the Year, Cameranesi has tallied 93 goals and 107 assists in 138 games. She is the eighth Gopher in program history to reach the 200-point milestone (sixth since the inception of the WCHA).
- Sensational Sauve: Ohio State redshirt-sophomore goaltender Kassidy Sauve once again led the nation in saves last weekend, making 85 stops to help the Buckeyes to a four-point weekend at home against No. 10 North Dakota.
- After missing the entire 2015-16 season due to injury, Sauve ranks among the NCAA top-10 leaders in 2016-17 for: saves (1st - 200), save percentage (2nd - .952), starts (tied 3rd - 18), minutes (5th - 1039:22), shutouts (tied 5th - 4), goals-against average (10th - 1.73) and wins (tied 10th - 8).
- We Are WCHA: Once again, the top-four teams in NCAA D-I women's hockey for average and total attendance are WCHA schools.
- Wisconsin leads the country with an average of 2,194 fans per game at LaBahn Arena; Minnesota is second by welcoming 1,563 each night to Ridder Arena; Minnesota Duluth ranks third by hosting 1,041 per contest at AMSOIL Arena; and, North Dakota is fourth with an average of 943 per game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
- Nonconference Success: WCHA teams will play eight nonconference road games over the next two weekends. The WCHA continues to have nation's best out-of-league winning percentage at .768 (20-5-3), including a 9-2-1 (.792) mark in road or neutral site contests.
By the Numbers
- 12: Straight games in which Ohio State has not allowed a power-play goal, the NCAA's longest active streak. The Buckeyes' penalty-kill is 22-for-22 in that span. The Buckeyes rank seventh nationally with a 90.9 penalty-kill efficiency this season (49-for-54).
The Week Ahead
- No. 1 Wisconsin at Ohio State: The Badgers and Buckeyes both wrap up their 2016 schedule with a series this weekend in Columbus. UW beat OSU 3-0 on Oct. 7 in Columbus, before the teams tied 1-1 the following day (the Badgers won the shootout). Wisconsin leads the all-time series by a 61-10-7 margin.
- No. 3 Minnesota Duluth at Minnesota State: The Mavericks conclude a season-long eight-game homestand by hosting the third-ranked Bulldogs, who will play their third-straight road series (and final games of 2016). UMD has won 12-straight games against MSU dating back to the 2012-13 season, including sweeping the Mavericks earlier in the season at AMSOIL by scores of 4-0 and 5-1. The Bulldogs are 61-6-4 all-time against MSU.
- St. Cloud State at No. 10 North Dakota: The Fighting Hawks host the Huskies, who travel to Grand Forks for SCSU's final games of 2016. The last two regular season series between these teams have resulted in splits, including a pair of one-goal decisions Oct. 7-8 in St. Cloud. UND leads the all-time series, 33-21-6.
- Nonconference Road Trips: A pair of WCHA teams travel east for nonconference matchups. Bemidji State visits College Hockey America opponent RIT, while No. 2 Minnesota takes on host Boston University of Hockey East.
The Week in Review
- It was a battle of the titans in Madison, as No. 1 Wisconsin hosted No. 2 Minnesota in front of a pair of sold-out crowds at LaBahn Arena.
- No. 4 Minnesota Duluth continued its 9-1-2, 12-game surge by traveling south and sweeping a series at in-state rival St. Cloud State.
- Behind an NCAA-best 85 saves from goaltender Kassidy Sauve, Ohio State earned a four-point weekend at home against No. 9 North Dakota.
- Both teams earned a victory in Mankato, as Bemidji State won the opener and host Minnesota State captured a Saturday triumph.
- Full recaps and box scores are available at wcha.com.
No. 2 Minnesota 2, at No. 1 Wisconsin 0
at No. 1 Wisconsin 8, No. 2 Minnesota 2
(Dec. 3 and 4 at LaBahn Arena; Madison, Wis.)
It was a battle of the titans in Madison, as No. 1 Wisconsin hosted No. 2 Minnesota in front of a pair of sold-out crowds at LaBahn Arena.
Saturday's series opener was a taut goaltending battle, with the Gophers' Sidney Peters (career-high 37 saves) and the Badgers' Ann-Renée Desbiens (32 stops) going toe-to-toe in an eventual 2-0 Minnesota win. The teams remained scoreless until 37 minutes into the contest, when Gopher senior Kate Schipper earned her 100th career point on a power-play goal. Wisconsin put the heat on with 16 third-period shots, but Peters stood tall and Schipper sealed the game with an empty-net strike.
Sunday was a different story, as the Badgers scored early and often in a 8-2 win televised by FOX Sports North and FOX Sports Wisconsin. Sarah Nurse made Wisconsin history with the first hat trick by a Badger against Minnesota, including the game's first goal at the 3:33 mark of the first period. After Minnesota's Caitlin Reilly tied things up, Sydney McKibbon put UW back on top, Nurse added another and the Badgers took a 4-2 lead into intermission. Nurse scored early in the second to complete the hat trick, and the Badgers cruised from there. Desbiens finished the game with 23 saves.
No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 3, at St. Cloud State 0
Minnesota Duluth 3, at St. Cloud State 2
(Dec. 2 and 3 at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center; St. Cloud, Minn.)
No. 4 Minnesota Duluth continued its 9-1-2, 12-game surge by traveling south and sweeping a series at in-state rival St. Cloud State.
Friday, the host Huskies could not solve Bulldogs' sophomore goaltender Maddie Rooney, who logged a 15-save shutout. The teams remained scoreless through the first period and into the second, until Ashleigh Brykaliuk got UMD on the board at the 6:16 mark with her 10th goal of the season. A few minutes later, Maria Lindh also scored, and Rooney did the rest en route to the 3-0 victory.
St. Cloud State got on the board first Saturday night, as Caroline Markstrom found the back of the net 5:55 into the first period. Before the horn sounded, Brooklynn Schugel tied things up with her fourth goal of the season. UMD would come out of the dressing room firing away, as Brykaliuk and Lindh gave the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead heading into the final period. The Huskies looked to rally after Lauren Hespenheide cut the lead to a single goal with 12:02 remaining, but Rooney withstood 13 shots in the final period and Bulldogs held on for the 3-2 victory.
No. 9 North Dakota 1, at Ohio State 1 - OT (UND wins the shootout, 2-1 in 3 rounds)
at Ohio State 2, No. 9 North Dakota 1
(Dec. 2 and 3 at OSU Ice Rink; Columbus, Ohio)
Behind an NCAA-best 85 saves from goaltender Kassidy Sauve, Ohio State earned a four-point weekend at home against No. 9 North Dakota.
Goals were hard to come by on Friday, as the teams combined for 66 shots and just two goals through 65 minutes. Sauve made 42 saves for the Buckeyes, while North Dakota's Lexie Shaw stopped 22 shots. Maddy Field scored for OSU in the second to give the home team a 1-0 lead, but the Fighting Hawks spoiled Sauve's shutout bid on a tying goal by Ryleigh Houston with 11:59 remaining in regulation. It would also be Houston who gave her team the extra WCHA point, as she scored the winning shootout goal for UND.
Sauve had another big outing Saturday and OSU received two goals from freshmen for the 2-1 upset win. Rebecca Freiburger put OSU up 1-0 with a goal just 29 seconds before the first intermission. Soon after the puck dropped in the middle frame, UND forward Sarah Lecavalier tied things up with her second goal of the year. But, less than three minutes later, Samantha Bouley put the Buckeyes up for good. Sauve did the rest of the work, capping a 43-save performance with 14 third-period stops.
Bemidji State 2, at Minnesota State 0
at Minnesota State 3, Bemidji State 2
(Dec. 2 and 3 at Verizon Wireless Center; Bemidji, Minn.)
Both teams earned a victory in Mankato, as Bemidji State won the opener and host Minnesota State captured a Saturday triumph.
Bemidji State opened the series with a 2-0 victory Friday afternoon. The teams remained scoreless until the Beavers' Emma Terres took advantage of a turnover for her fourth goal of the season just 1:58 into the second period. The score remained tight throughout, with BSU receiving an insurance goal off the stick of Lauren Miller at the 12:55 mark of the third period. BSU goaltender Brittni Mowat held the Mavericks scoreless with 19 saves, while on the other end Brianna Quade had 32 saves on 34 shots.
The Mavericks got off to a hot start Saturday, scoring three goals within a 3:50 span of the first period. Sara Bustad got Minnesota State on the board with her first goal of the season at the 2:14 mark, Emily Antony extended the lead to 2-0 at 4:55 and Anna Fiegert made it 3-0 at 6:04 with her first of the season. But the Beavers wouldn't go away quietly, as freshman Kiki Radke rattled off her first two collegiate goals to cut the lead to one with a period left to play. But, Quade made 10 saves in the final frame to cap a 23-save afternoon and give her team the 3-2 victory.