WCHA Week 21: 2018 WCHA Quarterfinals
Trio of best-of-three series to join No. 1 playoff seed Wisconsin at the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff, as No. 2 Ohio State hosts No. 7 Minnesota State, No. 3 Minnesota welcomes No. 6 St. Cloud State and No. 4 Minnesota Duluth entertains No. 5 Bemidji State
Ohio State, Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth host WCHA Quarterfinal series this weekend

Opening Faceoff

- Playoff Hockey!: The second season begins in the Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), as the 2018 WCHA Playoffs begin with this weekend's Quarterfinals. Nationally top-ranked Wisconsin, the three-time defending WCHA regular season champion, earned the No. 1 seed and an automatic bye into the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff (March 3-4 at Ridder Arena). The remaining six teams will compete in best-of-three, quarterfinal-round series this weekend. More about each team heading into the league's postseason tournament, in order of seed (with the winning team receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament):

  • Wisconsin: The Badgers became the second team in the 19-year history of the WCHA to win three-straight league regular season championships, claiming in the program's seventh title. UW, which spent much of the year ranked No. 1 in the opinion polls and is tops in the current PairWise Rankings, will be competing for its fourth-straight Final Faceoff crown.
  • Ohio State: Under second-year head coach Nadine Muzerall, the nationally sixth-ranked Buckeyes set program records with 21 overall wins (21-9-4) and 14 WCHA victories (14-6-4-3). OSU, currently sixth in the PairWise, is hosting a WCHA Quarterfinal series for the first time since 2007 and is looking to return to the Final Faceoff for the first time since 2013.
  • Minnesota: The nationally seventh-ranked Gophers have won at least 20 games for the 21st consecutive season (each year of the program's existence). UMN is eighth in the PairWise entering its WCHA Quarterfinals series.
  • Minnesota Duluth: Despite fielding one of the youngest rosters in program history and playing the nation's third-toughest schedule to date, the Bulldogs went 12-8-4 over their final 24 games -- including a 10-7-3 mark in the WCHA -- to earn home ice for the WCHA Quarterfinals. UMD played in the 2017 WCHA Final Faceoff championship game.
  • Bemidji State: With a mix of senior leadership and talented freshmen at each position, the Beavers boast victories over OSU, UMN and UMD this season, along with a tie against UW. BSU is looking to return to the WCHA Final Faceoff for the second time in four years (also 2015).
  • St. Cloud State: After starting the season 2-12-0 (1-9-0 WCHA), the Huskies finished the season 6-6-5 (5-5-4). SCSU played winning hockey after Jan. 1, going 5-4-3 and allowing just 1.92 goals per game during that stretch.
  • Minnesota State: The Mavericks, who defeated BSU and OSU down the stretch, were on the short end of seven, one-goal decisions this season, skewing their overall record.

- Scoring and Goaltending Champs: The WCHA saw its first freshman Scoring Champion (defined as the most points in league play) since Ohio State's Hokey Langan in the 2009-10 season (21g-22a--43pts), as Minnesota's Grace Zumwinkle finished with 27 points (11g-16a) in 24 WCHA games. Wisconsin sophomore Kristen Campbell, who leads NCAA Division I goaltenders in four major categories, posted a 1.16 goals-against average in 24 league games to earn the distinction as WCHA Goaltending Champion.

- 2018 Winter Olympics: Seven (37) current or former WCHA players, including four current student-athletes, competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Thirty (30) of those medaled, with 14 winning gold with Team USA, nine bringing home silver with Team Canada and seven capturing bronze with Team Finland.

2018 WCHA Quarterfinals

- No. 7 Minnesota State at No. 2 Ohio State: The Buckeyes are hosting playoff hockey for the first time since 2011, welcoming the Mavericks to the OSU Ice Rink. OSU won the season series, 3-1, sweeping two games in Columbus (2-1 and 5-3 on Nov. 10 and 11). Two weekends ago, Minnesota State defeated OSU, 4-1 on Friday in Mankato and led into the third period Saturday, before falling, 3-2.

- No. 6 St. Cloud State at No. 3 Minnesota: The Gophers and Huskies met five times in the regular season (including one nonconference game), with UMN going undefeated (4-0-1). Minnesota, in fact, is 38-0-1 in the last 39 games; however, two of the wins this season were by a single goal. Two weekends ago, SCSU rallied for a 3-3 tie in a matchup in St. Cloud.

- No. 5 Bemidji State at No. 4 Minnesota Duluth: Regional rivals meet in the WCHA Quarterfinals for the third time in the last four seasons (BSU won a three-game series at AMSOIL Arena to upset the Bulldogs in 2015; UMD returned the favor with a sweep at Bemidji in 2016). The teams met five times during the regular season (including a neutral site nonconference game), with the Beavers holding a 3-2 edge. Four of the five games were one-goal affairs, with the only exception a 5-3 BSU win at AMSOIL on Jan. 12 (followed by a 3-2 Bulldogs victory the next day).