WCHA Week 4: First Full Weekend Of WCHA Games Awaits
NO. 7 OHIO STATE HOSTS NO. 5/6 MINNESOTA DULUTH IN MARQUEE SERIES; NO. 9/8 MINNESOTA VISITS BEMIDJI STATE AND MINNESOTA STATE HOSTS NO. 1 WISCONSIN
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No. 7 Ohio State Hosts No. 5/6 Minnesota Duluth In Marquee Series

Opening Faceoff

- Prominent in the Polls: The Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) is leading the country with four teams ranked in the early-season USCHO and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls, matching ECAC Hockey in the latter rankings.

  • After a perfect 6-0-0 start, Wisconsin remains at the top of both ledgers. Minnesota Duluth is fifth in the USCHO rankings and sixth in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, Ohio State is seventh in both; and, Minnesota is ninth in the former and tied for eighth in the latter.
  • A fifth WCHA team, Bemidji State, received a vote in the USCHO rankings for the second-straight week and garnered its first vote in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings.

- O-H-I-O: Ohio State has staked an early claim among the NCAA's elite, returning to the national top-10 for the first time since Jan. 12, 2015. The 3-0-1 Buckeyes are No. 7 in both polls, the program's highest ranking since the 2012-13 team held the No. 6 spot on Oct. 15, 2012.

  • OSU, which is tied for the NCAA's top-scoring offense at 4.00 goals per game, has not been undefeated after four games since that 2012-13 team opened 5-0-0. The Buckeyes opened the season with a home sweep over RPI, then vaulted into the rankings after a five-point WCHA weekend at then-No. 4/5 Minnesota -- a weekend that was a decade in the making.
  • The Buckeyes' 3-2 victory in Friday's series opener snapped a pair of 10-year droughts. It was Ohio State's first win over the Golden Gophers since Oct. 20, 2007 and the program's first triumph at Ridder Arena since Jan. 12, 2007.

- On Wisconsin: The Badgers' hot start is becoming a habit, as this is the fourth-straight season that UW has opened at least 6-0-0. The 2014-15 team lost in its seventh game, the 2015-16 squad set a program record by winning its first 18 games, while the 2016-17 edition tied its fourth game but remained undefeated through 12 contests (11-0-1).

- Welcome to the WCHA: We touched on the league's impressive rookie class in this space last week, and last weekend featured more of the same. Entering this week's games, WCHA skaters own nine of the top-19 spots among the NCAA freshman scoring leaders.

  • Ohio State linemates Tatum Skaggs (5-3=8, 2.00 PPG) and Emma Maltais (2-5=7, 1.75 PPG) are third and fourth, respectively, among their peers (tied for fifth and 12th among all NCAA skaters).
  • Minnesota teammates Grace Zumwinkle (3-1=4, 1.00 PPG) and Olivia Knowles (2-2=4, 1.00 PPG) are tied for fourth, while Wisconsin's Brette Pettet (3-2=5, 0.83 PPG) is 10th.
  • A trio of forwards are tied for 11th at 0.75 points-per-game: Bemidji State's Clair DeGeorge (1-2=3), Minnesota Duluth's Ashton Bell (2-1=3) and Minnesota State's Brittyn Fleming (0-3=3).

By the Numbers

- 3a: NCAA-leading shutout total for Wisconsin sophomore goaltender Kristen Campbell. The transfer from North Dakota has a clean sheet in half of her first six starts, while she is second nationally with a 0.67 GAA and fifth with a .963 save percentage.

- 3b: NCAA-leading power-play goals scored by Minnesota freshman Grace Zumwinkle, helping the Gophers match Minnesota Duluth for second nationally in power-play efficiency at 28.6 percent (4-for-14).

- 30: St. Cloud State freshman Emma Polusny has reached the 30-save mark in each of her first two career starts (31 and 33) -- the first Huskies goaltender to do so since reigning NWHL Goaltender of the Year Katie Fitzgerald in 2012-13.


The Week Ahead

- Minnesota Duluth at Ohio State: The league's marquee series this weekend is a top-10 showdown in Columbus, as the No. 5/6 Bulldogs visit the No. 7 Buckeyes. UMD swept the season series in 2016-17 and holds a 65-15-3 all-time advantage.

- Minnesota at Bemidji State: A rematch of a three-game, 2017 WCHA Quarterfinal-round playoff series, won by the Gophers to cap a 5-2 season-series win. Minnesota (currently ranked No. 9/8) leads the all-time series, 69-8-7 (with half of BSU's victories coming in the three-plus year tenure of current head coach Jim Scanlan).

- Wisconsin at Minnesota State: The top-ranked Badgers visit the Mavericks, their WCHA Quarterfinal-round playoff opponent each of the last two seasons (both UW sweeps). Head coaches Mark Johnson (UW) and John Harrington (MSU) were teammates on the storybook, "Miracle on Ice" 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

- Minnesota Whitecaps at St. Cloud State: The Huskies welcome the WCHA-laden Whitecaps for two exhibition games.


The Week in Review

- The first WCHA series of the 2017-18 season was a classic, with Ohio State outlasting host and then-No. 4/5 Minnesota for five points.

- Top-ranked Wisconsin ran its perfect start to 6-0-0, sweeping host Syracuse in New York.

- No. 4 Minnesota Duluth came out on the short end of a top-five showdown at No. 3 Boston College, losing both games despite outshooting the Eagles in both contests.

- Bemidji State gave defending national champion and second-ranked Clarkson all it could handle, but dropped a pair of games in New York by scores of 2-0 and 5-4.

- Minnesota State dropped a heartbreaking, overtime decision to No. 9 Robert Morris on Saturday, then fell in Sunday's series finale.

- St. Cloud State's offense could not support some solid goaltending efforts on the road, as the Huskies were shut out in consecutive losses at No. 10 Colgate.

- Watch all the top goals, plays and saves from last weekend on the "WCHA Highlight Reel," found here.

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


Ohio State 3, at No. 4/5 Minnesota 2
Ohio State 5, at No. 4/5 Minnesota 5 - OT (OSU wins shootout, 2-0)
(Oct. 6 and 7 at Ridder Arena; Minneapolis, Minn.)

The first WCHA series of the 2017-18 season was a classic, with Ohio State outlasting host and then-No. 4/5 Minnesota for five points.

Charly Dahlquist's tiebreaking, game-winning goal 7:22 into the third period Friday gave the Buckeyes a 3-2 victory -- their first over the Golden Gophers since Oct. 20, 2007 and the program's first triumph at Ridder Arena since Jan. 12, 2007. Jacyn Reeves scored a pair of goals 1:43 apart in the first period to put OSU up early, 2-0, before Sophie Skarzynski and Grace Zumwinkle brought Minnesota even in the second stanza. Kassidy Sauve made 26 saves in the OSU net.

Saturday's game featured a pair of two-goal Minnesota leads, three ties and two lead changes, before finally ending in a 5-5 draw through 65 minutes. The Buckeyes' Tatum Skaggs (who scored twice in regulation and added an assist) and Julianna Iafallo both scored in the shootout, while Sauve stopped both Gopher attempts to give OSU the extra WCHA point. Sydney Baldwin tallied three assists for Minnesota, while Caitlin Reilly scored twice -- including the game-tying marker at 13:42 of the third period.


No. 1 Wisconsin 1, at Syracuse 0
No. 1 Wisconsin 5, at Syracuse 2
(Oct. 6 and 7 at Tennity Ice Pavilion; Syracuse, N.Y.)

Top-ranked Wisconsin ran its perfect start to 6-0-0, sweeping host Syracuse in New York.

A second-period, highlight-reel goal from Abby Roque gave UW a 1-0 win in Friday's series opener. A fellow sophomore, goaltender Kristen Campbell, made Roque's goal hold up with a 20-save shutout.

Four different Badgers found the back of the net during a 5-2 victory Saturday afternoon. Claudia Kepler scored twice in a 2:11 stretch of the first period, before Caitlin Schneider (game-winner), Lauren Williams and Mikaela Gardner all tallied third-period goals. Williams and Gardner struck after the Orange had cut the UW lead to 3-2 at the 7:44 mark.


at No. 3 Boston College 4, No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 3
at No. 3 Boston College 4, No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 1
(Oct. 5 and 6 at Kelley Rink; Chestnut Hill, Mass.)

No. 4 Minnesota Duluth came out on the short end of a top-five showdown at No. 3 Boston College, losing both games despite outshooting the Eagles in both contests.

The host Eagles outlasted the Bulldogs, 4-3, in Thursday's series opener. BC held a 4-1 lead nearing the midway point of the third period, but 5-on-3 power-play goals by freshman Ashton Bell (first of her career) and Catherine Daoust 1:13 apart brought UMD within one. However, the Bulldogs could not find the equalizer. Jessica Convery finished with 22 saves for UMD.

Bell again scored on the power-play in Friday's contest, briefly tying the game at 1-1 in the first period, but that was all UMD could manage in a 4-1 setback. Catherine Johnson made her first start of the year, making 22 saves in the Bulldogs net.


at No. 2 Clarkson 2, Bemidji State 0
at No. 2 Clarkson 5, Bemidji State 4
(Oct. 6 and 7 at Cheel Arena; Potsdam, N.Y.)

Bemidji State gave defending national champion and second-ranked Clarkson all it could handle, but dropped a pair of games in New York by scores of 2-0 and 5-4.

The Beavers kept the Golden Knights scoreless through the game's first two periods Friday behind the goaltending of senior Erin Deters (21 saves entering the third period; 30 for the game). However, Clarkson broke through with a pair of final-stanza goals and Shea Tiley notched a 15-save shutout in the 2-0 victory.

BSU staged a late rally Saturday, scoring twice within the final two minutes, but fell a goal short in a 5-4 loss. Freshman Clair DeGeorge scored her first collegiate goal, while Jacqueline Kassa, Haley Mack and Kiki Radke all lit the lamp for the Beavers. Redshirt freshman Lauren Bench made the start in net and finished with 36 saves.


No. 9 Robert Morris 2, at Minnesota State 1 - OT
No. 9 Robert Morris 6, at Minnesota State 2
(Oct. 7 and 8 at Verizon Wireless Center; Mankato, Minn.)

Minnesota State dropped a heartbreaking, overtime decision to No. 9 Robert Morris on Saturday, then fell in Sunday's series finale.

The Mavericks fought to a 1-1 tie through 60 minutes in their home opener Friday, riding a second-period Amanda Conway goal (her team-best third of the season) and 26 saves from goaltender Katie Bidulka into overtime. However, the Colonials scored just 40 seconds into the extra session for the 2-1 victory.

RMU jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period Sunday, and was up 4-0 early in the second, before a late Minnesota State rally fell short in a 6-2 loss. Freshman forward Tristen Truax scored her first career goal, while Jordan Jackson added her first of the season on a power play.


at No. 10 Colgate 3, St. Cloud State 0
at No. 10 Colgate 5, St. Cloud State 0
(Oct. 6 and 7 at Class of 1965 Arena; Hamilton, N.Y.)

St. Cloud State's offense could not support some solid goaltending efforts on the road, as the Huskies were shut out in consecutive losses at No. 10 Colgate.

SCSU sophomore netminder Janine Alder made 35 saves in Friday's 3-0 loss. Emma Polusny made 33 stops in a 5-0 setback Saturday, in the process becoming the first Huskies freshman with at least 30 saves in her first two career starts since reigning NWHL Goaltender of the Year Katie Fitzgerald did so in 2012-13.