BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Jan. 3, 2018 – The emergence of younger players was a prominent first-half theme in the Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). Fittingly, three of the four WCHA Players of the Month, Powered by GoodWood Hockey, for December 2017 are freshmen or sophomores, joined by a senior that is cementing her place as one of the best in her school's history. The honorees are: Minnesota freshman Grace Zumwinkle (Offensive), Bemidji State senior Alexis Joyce (Defensive), Wisconsin sophomore Kristen Campbell (Goaltender) and Bemidji State freshman defenseman Mak Langei (Rookie).
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Grace Zumwinkle, Fr.
Minnesota (Excelsior, Minn.)
Zumwinkle was the WCHA's top offensive threat last month, was the highest-scoring rookie in the country and was among the best of all qualifying Division I skaters. The freshman from Excelsior, Minn. led all WCHA players with eight points, 2.00 points per game, four goals, 1.00 goals per game, 1.00 assists per game and one game-winning goal in four December contests. Zumwinkle tied for the lead among NCAA rookies in points, points per game and game-winning goals, while she was tied for second for any skater with 2.00 points per contest. Her efforts vaulted into the WCHA scoring lead (league play only) with 20 points (8g-12a) in 16 conference games and a three-way tie for the most points overall with 25 (11g-14a).
The coaches' preseason nod as WCHA Rookie of the Year, Zumwinkle scored a goal in all four December games. She also added at least one assist in three contests, helping No. 6/7 Minnesota to a 2-1-1 mark (all in WCHA play). Zumwinkle opened the month with three points in the Gophers' split with Bemidji State (Dec. 1-2), scoring the overtime winner with 26 seconds remaining in the opener. She then earned WCHA Rookie of the Week honors with a five-point effort (2g-3a) as Minnesota took four points from Minnesota Duluth (Dec. 8-9). The forward finished the month with a plus-4 rating.
This is Zumwinkle's first WCHA monthly award of her rookie season.
Honorable Mention: Hannah Davidson, Sr., Minnesota State (led the Mavericks with two goals and three points, while becoming the 18th player in program history to reach the career 50-point plateau); Haley Mack, So., Bemidji State (helped the Beavers go 5-1-0 by tying for second in the WCHA with seven points and tying for first with four goals – including a NCAA-best two shorthanded tallies); Sophia Shaver, Jr., Wisconsin (had six points on three goals and three assists, ranked second in the WCHA with a plus-6 rating and helped the top-ranked Badgers to a perfect 4-0-0 month); Tatum Skaggs, Fr., Ohio State (tied for the team lead with four points, scoring two goals and handing out two assists for the No. 7/6 Buckeyes).
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Alexis Joyce, Sr.
Bemidji State (Lakeville, Minn.)
Joyce's all-around excellence propelled Bemidji State to a 5-1-0 record in December – including a program record-tying five-game winning streak to close the month. The senior from Lakeville, Minn. led the WCHA with a plus-9 rating, the product of a personal offensive surge that included three goals and three assists, along with a defensive effort in which she contributed eight blocked shots to a BSU team that allowed just 1.67 goals per game. Joyce's six points matched teammate Mak Langei for most by a WCHA blueliner (part of a four-way tie for the NCAA lead) and was tied for fourth overall in the league.
One of only three defensemen in Bemidji State history with 70 career points, Joyce ended the month with points in three of her final four contests. She earned WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors after a four-point series (3g-1a) against RIT, sealing the Beavers' sweep with the game-winning goal in a 3-1 triumph Dec. 9. The senior then added a pair of assists as BSU opened a home sweep over Minnesota State with a 4-2 victory Dec. 15. Although she was not credited with any points, Joyce was on the ice for all four Beaver goals in a 4-2 upset win at No. 6 Minnesota (Dec. 2) and for three BSU scores in a 5-0 shutout of the Mavericks on Dec. 16.
This is Joyce's first career WCHA monthly award.
Honorable Mention: Jincy Dunne, RS-So., Ohio State (led the No. 7/6 Buckeyes with six blocked shots, while adding three points on a goal and her 11th and 12th assists of the season); Mikaela Gardner, Jr., Wisconsin (averaged a point a game, tallying four assists to help the top-ranked Badgers win all four of their December contests); McKenzie Sederberg, So., Minnesota State (scored her first collegiate goal, while adding an assist, three blocked shots and a team-best even rating for the Mavericks).
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Kristen Campbell, So., G
Wisconsin (Brandon, Manitoba)
Campbell made it a perfect three-for-three in WCHA monthly honors this season, going a perfect 4-0-0 in the Wisconsin net and leading the league in wins (tied), shutouts (two), goals-against average (0.50) and save percentage (.974). She also led NCAA Division I in shutouts and tied for tops in wins, while her GAA and save percentage paced all D-I goaltenders that started more than two games in December.
The sophomore from Brandon, Manitoba allowed just two goals on 78 shots in December, helping the top-ranked Badgers win all four games. Campbell made 28 saves in a 5-1 victory over Minnesota Duluth on Dec. 1, then collected 16 stops in a 3-1 triumph the next day. She turned aside all 32 shots she faced Dec. 8 and 9 at St. Cloud State, backstopping UW to a road sweep with 1-0 and 3-0 shutouts.
En route to winning all three WCHA Goaltender of the Month awards this season (the first three of her career), Campbell leads all D-I netminders with 21 wins, a 1.00 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage, while she is second with a WCHA-best six shutouts.
Honorable Mention: Lauren Bench, RS-Fr., Bemidji State (tied for the WCHA and NCAA lead with four wins, paced the league with 116 saves, and posted a 1.77 goals-against average and .928 save percentage); Sidney Peters, RS-Sr., Minnesota (started all four games, backstopping the No. 6/7 Gophers to a 2-1-1 month with a 2.19 goals-against average, a .906 save percentage and one shutout); Emma Polusny, Fr., St. Cloud State (made 81 saves in just two starts, ranking second in the WCHA with a 1.44 goals-against average, a .964 save percentage and one shutout); Kassidy Sauvé, RS-Jr., Ohio State (continued her excellence with a shutout, a 1.93 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage).
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Mak Langei, Fr., D
Bemidji State (East Grand Forks, Minn.)
Langei, like teammate Alexis Joyce, was a force on both ends of the ice as Bemidji State matched a program-record with five-straight wins to close out December. The freshman led all WCHA skaters with five assists last month, while her six points matched Joyce for the WCHA and NCAA scoring lead among blueliners. Langei tied for third in the WCHA with 12 blocked shots (one behind the co-leaders), helped the Beavers hold opponents to just 1.67 goals per game and led league rookies with a plus-6 rating (tied for second overall).
A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., Langei tallied a point in five-of-six December contests and factored in three game-winning goals (two assists and one goal). After opening the month with an assist in each game of BSU's road split at No. 6 Minnesota, she tallied three helpers – including setting up both game-winning goals – as the Beavers swept a nonconference series against RIT on Dec. 8 and 9. Her lone goal of the month started the scoring and stood as the game-winner as BSU completed a league sweep of Minnesota State with a 5-0 shutout Dec. 16.
This is Langei's first WCHA monthly award of her rookie season.
Honorable Mention: Brittyn Fleming, Fr., F, Minnesota State (led the Mavericks with two assists, three points and 12 shots on goal, while adding her first career game-winning marker); Emma Maltais, Fr., F, Ohio State (tallied all four of her points on assists, ending the first half of the season tied for the WCHA's overall lead with 17 helpers and 25 points); Emma Polusny, Fr., St. Cloud State (made 81 saves in just two starts, ranking second in the WCHA with a 1.44 goals-against average, a .964 save percentage and one shutout.