WCHA Week 3: WCHA League Race Begins
NO. 4/5 MINNESOTA HOSTS OHIO STATE IN FIRST LEAGUE SERIES OF THE SEASON; EIGHT OF THE WCHA'S 10 NONCONFERENCE GAMES AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
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Minnesota hosts Ohio State in first league series of the season

Opening Faceoff

- Prominent in the Polls: The Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) has a strong presence in the early-season USCHO and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls, with five programs either ranked or receiving votes.

  • After an impressive 4-0-0 start, Wisconsin has ascended to the top of both ledgers. Minnesota Duluth is tied for fourth in the USCHO poll (with Minnesota), while the Bulldogs are fourth and the Gophers are fifth in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings. Ohio State is receiving votes in both, while Bemidji State picked up a vote in the USCHO poll.

- Nonconference Success: After a 10-2-2 showing last weekend, the WCHA is off to a strong, 12-2-2 start in nonconference play. The league has enjoyed tremendous success against teams from other conferences throughout its storied history, posting a 574-252-84 (.677) all-time mark in nonconference games, including postseason play.

- Welcome to the WCHA: The WCHA's heralded freshman class has made a strong impression out of the gate, logging 15 goals and 24 assists amongst its skaters, while its trio of rookie goaltenders has gone 3-0-0 with a 0.85 goals-against average.

  • Ohio State's Tatum Skaggs tied for the national lead with three goals last weekend (part of a four-point effort), while Wisconsin's Brette Pettet became the first NCAA player (men's or women's) to record a hat trick with her three goals Friday against Mercyhurst. Fellow Badger Grace Bowlby has four assists in four games from the UW blue line.

- Minnesota's Olivia Knowles (1g-2a) and Grace Zumwinkle (2g-0a), Minnesota State's Brittyn Fleming (0g-2a), OSU's Emma Maltais (1g-2a) and St. Cloud State's Laura Kluge (1g-1a) all had multi-point opening collegiate weekends.

  • All three netminders earned the win in their first collegiate starts: Bemidji State redshirt freshman Lauren Bench (with a 26-save shutout vs. Syracuse), UMN's Alex Gulstene (vs. Merrimack) and SCSU's Emma Polusny (vs. UConn).
  • While not a freshman, Minnesota Duluth senior goaltender Jessica Convery, a transfer from Mercyhurst, posted back-to-back shutouts in her first WCHA weekend.

- A Weekend of Firsts: In addition, there were several achievements that had been a while in coming:

  • Minnesota State junior forward Jordan McLaughlin's game-winning goal against Lindenwood on Friday came short-handed, the first shorty in NCAA D-I women's hockey this season and the first by a Mavericks skater since Hannah Davidson on Oct. 23, 2015 against Ohio State.
  • The first career goal for SCSU's Laura Kluge was also the game-winner Saturday vs. UConn, as she became the first Husky to notch a game-winner on her initial goal since Hannah Potrykus on Oct. 13, 2015 at Merrimack.
  • With three goals Friday against Merrimack, Brette Pettet became the first Wisconsin freshman with a hat trick since current U.S. Women's National Team member Annie Pankowski on Nov. 11, 2014 vs. Minnesota State.

- Welcome Back, Peter: Ohio State added a familiar name to its bench, hiring Peter Elander as Associate Head Coach. A coaching veteran of nearly 30 years and renowned in international hockey, Elander spent the past seven seasons in the same role at North Dakota.


By the Numbers

- 1: Collegiate shots it took for Bemidji State freshman forward Lindsey Featherstone to score her first career goal.

- 2: Number of goals scored by Jalyn Elmes in 34 games during her 2016-17 freshman season. The sophomore blue-liner matched that output in her first two contests of 2017-18, with consecutive game-winning goals in UMD's season-opening sweep of Penn State.

- 3: Full years (almost) since Minnesota Duluth had last blanked an opponent over an entire series, prior to UMD's 1-0 and 3-0 victories over Penn State. Before those efforts, the Bulldogs last shut out an opponent twice in the same weekend on Jan. 23 and 24, 2015 against Minnesota State (12-0 and 4-0).

- 13: Career shutouts for Ohio State redshirt-junior goaltender Kassidy Sauve, a program record. Sauve set the mark with a 21-save blanking of RPI last Saturday.

- 18: September regular season games in Wisconsin history, in which the Badgers are a spectacular 17-0-1.

- 598: All-time wins for Minnesota, as the Gophers are two shy of hitting the 600 mark. The program, now in its 21st season, owns a 598-121-49 (.811) mark.


The Week Ahead

- WCHA Opener: The quest for the WCHA regular season championship and an automatic bye into the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff begins this weekend, as No. 4/5 Minnesota hosts Ohio State in the first league series.

- Nonconference Tests: Eight (8) of the WCHA's 10 nonconference games come against ranked opponents, including six on the road. The lone exception is top-ranked Wisconsin, which faces its own test with a lengthy New York trip to face Syracuse (CHA).

  • No. 4 Minnesota Duluth travels to Chestnut Hill to face No. 3 Boston College from Hockey East. Both games of this top five showdown will be shown live on ESPN3; Thursday at 7:00 p.m. ET and Friday at 2:00 p.m. ET.
  • Bemidji State's first road games of the year come at second-ranked and defending national champion Clarkson (ECAC).
  • St. Cloud State visits No. 10 Colgate (ECAC), while Minnesota State welcomes No. 9 Robert Morris (CHA).

The Week in Review

- Second-ranked Wisconsin continued its impressive start to the season, riding balanced scoring an excellent goaltending from Kristen Campbell to a nonconference sweep of visiting Mercyhurst.

- No. 3 Minnesota suffered a rare season-opening loss, before bouncing back with a 4-1 victory Sunday to salvage a nonconference split with visiting Merrimack.

- Jessica Convery's goaltending and Jalyn Elmes' clutch scoring led No. 5 Minnesota Duluth to a season-opening, nonconference shutout sweep of visiting Penn State. The Bulldogs blanked an opponent over an entire weekend for the first time since Jan. 23 and 24, 2015 against Minnesota State (12-0 and 4-0).

- Back-to-back shutouts by senior goaltender Erin Deters and redshirt freshman Lauren Bench, along with strong blue-line play, lifted Bemidji State to an undefeated weekend against visiting Syracuse.

- Minnesota State laid a solid foundation for its 2017-18 campaign, earning a season-opening win and a tie on the road at Lindenwood.

- Ohio State continued to stake its claim for strong consideration in the national polls, posting a convincing season-opening, nonconference sweep of visiting Rensselaer (RPI).

- St. Cloud State played a pair of taut games against visiting UConn, dropping a 1-0, overtime heartbreaker in the opener before rallying for a 3-2 triumph Saturday.

- 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.


at No. 2 Wisconsin 4, Mercyhurst 0
at No. 2 Wisconsin 5, Mercyhurst 1
(Sept. 28 and 29 at LaBahn Arena; Madison, Wis.)

Second-ranked Wisconsin continued its impressive start to the season, riding balanced scoring an excellent goaltending from Kristen Campbell to a nonconference sweep of visiting Mercyhurst.

Four different Badgers lit the lamp in Thursday's series-opening, 4-0 victory. Caitlin Schneider (first career goal for the freshman), Mikaela Gardner, Sophia Shaver and Claudia Kepler all scored, while Abby Roque tied a career high with three assists. Campbell stopped all 21 shots she faced for her second-straight shutout.

Brette Pettet recorded a hat trick in UW's 5-1 triumph Friday, becoming the 29th Badger with at least a three-goal game and the first freshman since Annie Pankowski accomplished the feat Nov. 13, 2014 vs. Minnesota State. Alexis Mauermann added a career-high four points (1g-3a), while Campbell made a career-best 29 saves.


Merrimack 4, at No. 3 Minnesota 3
at No. 3 Minnesota 4, Merrimack 1
(Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 at Ridder Arena; Minneapolis, Minn.)

No. 3 Minnesota suffered a rare season-opening loss, before bouncing back with a 4-1 victory Sunday to salvage a nonconference split with visiting Merrimack.

Seven different players scored Friday, as the visiting Warriors rallied from a 3-1 deficit after the first period to win, 4-3. Freshmen Grace Zumwinkle and Olivia Knowles scored their first career goals for the Gophers, while Knowles added an assist. For the game, Minnesota out-shot Merrimack, 57-19.

Nicole Schammel (2g-1a) led the Gophers with three points in Sunday's 4-1 triumph. Zumwinkle added the game-winner, freshman Taylor Wente scored the first of her collegiate career and rookie netminder Alex Gulstene - who had come on in relief Friday - earned the win in her first career start.


at No. 5 Minnesota Duluth 1, Penn State 0
at No. 5 Minnesota Duluth 3, Penn State 0
(Sept. 29 and 30 at AMSOIL Arena; Duluth, Minn.)

Jessica Convery's goaltending and Jalyn Elmes' clutch scoring led No. 5 Minnesota Duluth to a season-opening, nonconference shutout sweep of visiting Penn State. The Bulldogs blanked an opponent over an entire weekend for the first time since Jan. 23 and 24, 2015 against Minnesota State.

UMD got all the offense it would need in the first two minutes of Friday's season opener, as Elmes scored 1:22 into the contest and Convery's 22 saves made it stand in a 1-0 victory. Bulldog newcomers Ashton Bell and Ryleigh Houston assisted on the game's lone goal.

Saturday's game was scoreless into the third period, before Elmes scored at the 7:55 mark for her second game-winner in as many days. Freshman Mallorie Iozzo followed with her first career goal, Sydney Brodt added another and Convery completed her second-straight shutout with 12 saves in the 3-0 triumph.


at Bemidji State 0, Syracuse 0 - OT
at Bemidji State 5, Syracuse 0
(Sept. 29 and 30 at Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn.)

Back-to-back shutouts by senior goaltender Erin Deters and redshirt freshman Lauren Bench, along with strong blue-line play, lifted Bemidji State to an undefeated weekend against visiting Syracuse.

Deters stopped all 33 shots she faced over 65 minutes in a scoreless tie Friday. Not to be outdone, Bench recorded a 26-save shutout in her first career start, leading the Beavers to a 5-0 triumph Saturday. Bailey Wright netted the game-winner, Emma Terres (1g-1a) factored in BSU's two first-period goals, freshman Lindsey Featherstone scored on her first collegiate shot, while Hailey Mack and Jaqueline Kassa also scored in a balanced offensive output.


Minnesota State 4, at Lindenwood 1
at Minnesota State 2, at Lindenwood 2 - OT
(Sept. 29 and 30 at Lindenwood Ice Arena; Wentzville, Mo.)

Minnesota State laid a solid foundation for its 2017-18 campaign, earning a season-opening win and a tie on the road at Lindenwood.

The Mavericks scored three goals in the opening period Friday en route to a 4-1 victory. Emily Antony opened the scoring, Jordan McLaughlin followed with the first of her two scores - and the Mavs' first short-handed marker since Oct. 23, 2015 - while sophomore Taylor Gulenchyn added her first career strike. McLaughlin's empty-netter sealed the outcome, while goaltender Katie Bidulka made 24 saves.

Amanda Conway scored once in each of the first two periods and Chloe Crosby made 34 saves in net in Saturday's series finale, a 2-2 draw. The Mavericks held a 2-0 lead after Conway's second goal, but a pair of power-play scores drew the host Lions even.


at Ohio State 4, Rensselaer 1
at Ohio State 4, Rensselaer 0
(Sept. 29 and 30 at OSU Ice Rink; Columbus, Ohio)

Ohio State continued to stake its claim for strong consideration in the national polls, posting a convincing season-opening, nonconference sweep of visiting Rensselaer (RPI).

Freshman Tatum Skaggs netted her first two career goals Friday night, bookending the Buckeyes' 4-1 victory. In between, returning OSU scoring leader Maddy Field tallied the game-winner and newcomer Grace Zarzecki -- a transfer from Harvard -- also lit the lamp. Kassidy Sauve made 25 saves in the OSU net.

Sauve stole the show in Saturday's series finale, making 21 stops in a 4-0 shutout -- the OSU-record 13th of the redshirt-junior's career. Offensively, Skaggs added a goal and an assist, fellow rookie Emma Maltais scored her first career goal, and upperclassmen Field and Lauren Boyle found the back of the net.


UConn 1, at St. Cloud State 0 - OT
at St. Cloud State 3, UConn 2
(Sept. 29 and 30 at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center; St. Cloud, Minn.)

St. Cloud State played a pair of taut games against visiting UConn, dropping a 1-0, overtime heartbreaker in the opener before rallying for a 3-2 triumph Saturday.

Despite outshooting UConn 22-12 over the first two periods and 31-22 for the game, SCSU dropped a 1-0 decision Friday when the visitors scored just 45 seconds into overtime. Following a record-setting freshman season, goaltender Janine Alder made 21 saves in the first start of her sophomore campaign.

A pair of early goals put St. Cloud State in a quick hole Saturday, but SCSU's top line, led by Julia Tylke, dug it out with three unanswered third-period tallies to cap a thrilling, 3-2 comeback win. Tylke ignited the effort 36 seconds into the stanza with a goal that ended up on SportsCenter's Top 10 plays, then tied the score just over four minutes later. Freshman Laura Kluge snapped the tie at the 14:36 mark with her first career goal, which stood as the game-winner. Rookie Emma Polusny made 31 saves -- including 10 in the decisive third period -- to earn the win in her first collegiate start.