WCHA Week 13: Light Weekend Wraps Up The First Half
Bemidji State hosts Minnesota State, while Ohio State is at Mercyhurst for a nonconference series before the WCHA breaks for the holidays
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Bemidji State hosts Minnesota State in the lone WCHA series this weekend

Opening Faceoff

- Presence in the Polls: The Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) enters the final weekend of the season's first half with three teams ranked in the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls, while a fourth is receiving votes.

  • Wisconsin, which leads the country with 21 wins and a .955 winning percentage (21-1-0), is the unanimous No. 1 in both. Minnesota is sixth and Ohio State is seventh in the USCHO.com poll, while the Buckeyes are No. 6 and the Gophers are No. 7 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings. Bemidji State received a vote in both polls.

- Time for a Break: Three WCHA teams play this weekend (Bemidji State hosts Minnesota State in league play, while Ohio State travels to Mercyhurst for a nonconference series), then the league pauses until Jan. 2.

  • Wisconsin, which is off this weekend and idle the first weekend back in 2018, has the longest break with 34 days away from the ice between its Dec. 9 game at St. Cloud State and a Jan. 13 contest vs. Minnesota State. Bemidji State and Minnesota State have the shortest vacations, with 16 days off between their series this weekend and opening 2018 play on Jan. 2 (Beavers against Mercyhurst, Mavericks with an exhibition against the Korean National Team).
  • Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State all take 26-day breaks, while Ohio State is idle for 19 days.

- Youth Movement: The WCHA has not had a freshman as its scoring champion (defined as the most points in league play) since Ohio State's Hokey Langan in the 2009-10 season (21g-22a=43pts). But, rookies have two of the top-three spots nearing the halfway mark of the 2017-18 campaign: Minnesota's Grace Zumwinkle leads the WCHA with 20 points (8g-12a) in 16 league games, while OSU's Emma Maltais is third with 16 points (6g-10a) in 14 contests.

  • Overall (including nonconference games), Zumwinkle (11g-14a) is tied with Wisconsin sophomore Abby Roque (8g-17a) with a WCHA-best 25 points, while Maltais is third with 23 (8g-15a).
  • Nationally, five of the top-20 rookie scorers are from the WCHA: Maltais is third with 1.28 points per game, Zumwinkle is fourth at 1.14, OSU's Tatum Skaggs (12g-6a=18pts) is tied for sixth at 1.00, Minnesota Duluth's Naomi Rogge (10g-6a=16pts) is 17th at 0.76 and St. Cloud State's Laura Kluge (4g-8a=12pts) is 18th at 0.75.

- Dynamic Duo in the St. Cloud State Net: Since November 10, St. Cloud State's goaltending tandem of freshman Emma Polusny and sophomore Janine Alder (a 2016-17 WCHA All-Rookie Team performer) rank No. 1 and No. 3 in the WCHA with save percentages of .973 and .936, respectively. Polusny also leads the league with a 0.97 goals-against average and two shutouts (tied) over that span.

  • For the season, Alder and Polusny boast save percentages of .931 and .929, respectively, which rank second and third in the WCHA and ninth and 11th nationally.

By the Numbers

- 1: Point needed by Emma Maltais to crack Ohio State's all-time, top-10 single-season scoring list for a freshman. With her next goal or assist, Maltais (8g-15a=23pts) will be tied for ninth in Buckeye history.

- 4: Overtime wins this season for Minnesota, out of 15 overall victories. The Gophers (4-1-2 in OT) have received OT game-winning goals from senior Sydney Baldwin (Oct. 14 at Bemidji State) and freshmen Taylor Wente (Nov. 10 at Mercyhurst), Olivia Knowles (Nov. 26 at Lindenwood) and Grace Zumwinkle (Dec. 1 vs. BSU).

- 20: Career goals scored by Bemidji State senior Alexis Joyce, second-most in program history for a blue-liner.

- 50: Career points for Minnesota State senior forward Hannah Davidson, the 18th player in program history to reach that plateau. Davidson had three points last weekend against Lindenwood, with a goal and an assist in the opener and another goal -- for her 50th career point -- in Saturday's series finale.

- 60: Shots on goal for Bemidji State in a 5-2 win over RIT last Friday, the second-most in program history.


The Week Ahead

- Minnesota State at Bemidji State: The lone WCHA league series of the weekend, as the Beavers host the Mavericks. Bemidji State leads the all-time series by a 37-26-10 margin, including an 18-11-7 advantage at home. The teams split the 2016-17 season series, with BSU winning the opener both times and Minnesota State bouncing back to win the finale.

- No. 7/6 Ohio State at Mercyhurst: The Buckeyes, idle last weekend, travel to Erie, Pa. for a nonconference series with the Lakers of College Hockey America (CHA). OSU is 9-1-0 in nonconference play under head coach Nadine Muzerall.


The Week in Review

- In-state rivals met at Ridder Arena, with Minnesota Duluth rallying for a tie and shootout win Friday and No. 6 Minnesota posting a shutout victory Saturday.

- Top-ranked Wisconsin continued its first-half dominance, posting a pair of shutout victories behind goaltender Kristen Campbell (32 total saves) in a sweep at St. Cloud State.

- Bemidji State had an impressive start-to-finish performance, sweeping visiting RIT in a nonconference matchup behind three weekend goals apiece from Haley Mack and Alexis Joyce.

- Minnesota State played host to nonconference foe Lindenwood, winning Friday in an impressive, comeback fashion to earn a series split.

- 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.


Minnesota Duluth 3, at No. 6 Minnesota 3 - OT (UMD wins shootout, 2-1)
at No. 6 Minnesota 5, Minnesota Duluth 0
(Dec. 8 and 9 at Ridder Arena; Minneapolis, Minn.)

In-state rivals met at Ridder Arena, with Minnesota Duluth rallying for a tie and shootout win Friday and No. 6 Minnesota posting a shutout victory Saturday.

Down 2-0 and 3-1 in the third period Friday, UMD freshman Ashton Bell factored in all three goals -- including scoring the final two -- as the Bulldogs rallied for a 3-3 tie. The rookie's first goal made it 3-2 Gophers at the 11:56 mark, while her power-play tally with 4:46 remaining tied the score. Katerina Mrázová (who also had a goal and an assist in regulation) and Ryleigh Houston netted shootout goals to give UMD the extra league point.

Nicole Schammel scored two of the Gophers' five goals Saturday, while assisting on a third, as Minnesota posted a 5-0 victory. Sidney Peters made 18 saves for her 14th career shutout. snapped the deadlock with the game-winning marker 5:14 into the period, then set up the Beavers' fourth and final goal just 46 seconds later. Redshirt-freshman goaltender Lauren Bench wrapped up a 58-save weekend with 24 stops for BSU.


No. 1 Wisconsin 1, at St. Cloud State 0
No. 1 Wisconsin 3, at St. Cloud State 0
(Dec. 8 and 9 at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center; St. Cloud, Minn.)

Top-ranked Wisconsin continued its first-half dominance, posting a pair of shutout victories behind goaltender Kristen Campbell (32 total saves) in a sweep at St. Cloud State.

Sam Cogan scored the game's only goal 6:27 into Friday's series opener, giving the visiting Badgers a 1-0 victory. St. Cloud State netminder Janine Alder was excellent, turning aside 32-of-33 shots she faced.

Sophia Shaver led the way for UW on Saturday, factoring in all three goals (1g-2a) in a 3-0 victory. Presley Norby and Claudia Kepler also scored, while Mikaela Gardner collected her second and third assists of the weekend. Freshman netminder Emma Polusny made 40 saves in a standout effort for the Huskies.


at Bemidji State 5, RIT 2
at Bemidji State 3, RIT 1
(Dec. 8 and 9 at Sanford Center; Bemidji, Minn.)

Bemidji State had an impressive start-to-finish performance, sweeping visiting RIT in a nonconference matchup behind three weekend goals apiece from Haley Mack and Alexis Joyce.

The Beavers went two-for-four on the power play and added a shorthanded goal (Mack's WCHA-leading second of the season) for a 5-2 victory Friday. Mack also scored a power-play goal and added an assist, Joyce netted a pair of even-strength markers and Emma Terres lit the lamp for BSU, which put 60 shots on goal (second-most in program history). Redshirt-freshman goaltender Lauren Bench made 19 saves in the win.

True freshman netminder Kerigan Dowhy stopped a career-high 32 shots to lead the Beavers to a 3-1 win in Saturday's finale. Mack had another goal an assist, Joyce scored the game-winner and Abby Halluska had a pair of helpers for BSU, which won its third-straight game.


at Minnesota State 5, Lindenwood 4
Lindenwood 4, at Minnesota State 1
(Dec. 8 and 9 at Verizon Center; Mankato, Minn.)

Minnesota State played host to nonconference foe Lindenwood, winning Friday in an impressive, comeback fashion to earn a series split.

The Mavericks showed their resiliency Friday, coming from behind three times -- including twice in the third period -- to win, 5-4. Freshman Brittyn Fleming scored on a breakaway with 1:30 remaining regulation, snapping a 4-4 tie and sealing the win for the Mavericks. Fellow rookie Jessica Kondas tied the contest at four-apiece with her first collegiate goal, coming at the 13:40 mark of the third period. Minnesota State also received goals from Hannah Davidson, Amanda Conway and Jordan McLaughlin in the victory, while Chloe Crosby made 18 saves.

Davidson reached the career 50-point plateau with a second-period goal Saturday, but that was all the Mavericks would get in a 4-1 loss. Minnesota State fell despite outshooting the Lions by a 36-17 margin.