Every weekday from June 12-27, we will be looking back at the "Top Shelf Moments" from the thrilling 2016-17 WCHA Women's League season. Up next on our countdown is…
Moment 9: WCHA Partners with FOX Sports North
The 2016-17 season brought unprecedented exposure for the nation's premier conference, as the WCHA partnered with FOX Sports North and FOX Sports Wisconsin on the Association's first-ever extended women's hockey television package. The region's preeminent sports network televised seven regular season contests during the campaign, plus the 2017 WCHA Final Face-Off championship game.
While each game showcased the WCHA's wonderful student-athletes, coaches and fans, the highlight perhaps came Jan. 21. On that Saturday afternoon, for the first time in the 11-year history of the event, women's college hockey and the WCHA were featured on Hockey Day Minnesota 2017. Fans tuning in on FOX Sports North were treated to a fantastic game between Minnesota State and host St. Cloud State. The Huskies jumped out to a 3-0, second-period lead on goals by Alyssa Erickson, Janna Haeg and Kayla Friesen, only to see the Mavericks launch a furious rally. Emily Antony and Sara Bustad scored in the second period to cut the deficit to one, before Emma Wittchow brought Minnesota State even with 6:34 remaining in regulation. The teams settled for a 3-3 tie through overtime, setting the stage for a thrilling five-goal, six-round shootout, eventually won by St. Cloud State on a goal from senior captain – and Shakopee, Minn. native – Lauren Hespenheide.
Also included in the package were a pair of Wisconsin home games also shown on FOX Sports Wisconsin: The Badgers' 8-2, Border Battle triumph over Minnesota on Jan. 13, along with a 2-0 victory over St. Cloud State on Jan. 14. The UW-SCSU game was the highest-attended women's hockey game ever in the United States, as 15,369 fans came to the Kohl Center in Madison for the Badgers' "Fill the Bowl" contest.
Three of the eventual top-10 finalists for the 2017 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award – Kelly Pannek, Sarah Potomak and Lara Stalder – were on the ice when Minnesota Duluth hosted Minnesota on Jan. 13, and all three scored in the third period of a thrilling 3-2 Bulldogs' triumph. A mid-February series between Bemidji State and St. Cloud State was also featured.
The 2016-17 package wrapped up with the Final Face-Off championship game between Wisconsin and Minnesota Duluth. The game, which featured potentially eight student-athletes who will compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics, was shown throughout the region on both FOX Sports North and FOX Sports Wisconsin. The Badgers' Sarah Nurse – who is on the Canadian centralized roster prior to the Olympics – took over in the third period with a goal and two assists, helping Wisconsin snap a 1-1 tie en route to the 4-1 victory.
The WCHA thanks FOX Sports North and FOX Sports Wisconsin for this partnership and we applaud them for sharing our commitment to growing women's hockey throughout the region. We look forward to continuing to shine the FSN television spotlight on our amazing student-athletes for years to come!
"Top Shelf Moments" from the 2016-17 WCHA Season