WCHA Week 18: Top-10 Showdown In Columbus Highlights Weekend Ahead
Top-ranked Wisconsin visits No. 6 Ohio State needing two points to outright clinch the WCHA regular season title, Bemidji State visits Minnesota State looking to climb back towards fourth place (and home ice), while St. Cloud State hosts No. 7 Minnesota
Top-ranked Wisconsin visits No. 6 Ohio State needing two points to outright clinch the WCHA regular season title

Opening Faceoff

- A Look at the Rankings: Once again, the Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) has three teams ranked in both the USCHO.com and USA Today / USA Hockey magazine polls: top-ranked Wisconsin (unanimous), No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Minnesota.

  • The Badgers (No. 1), and Gophers (No. 7) are in identical spots in the PairWise Rankings, but the Buckeyes are one spot better than the opinion polls at No. 5.

- Badgers Close in on "Three-Peat": Wisconsin needs just two points this weekend in its showdown at Ohio State to outright clinch its third-straight WCHA regular season championship. With a single point, the Badgers will secure a share of the title and, by a tiebreaker, the No. 1 seed for the 2018 WCHA Postseason Tournament. (As a reminder, this season the No. 1 seed for the league tournament gets a quarterfinal round bye and an automatic bid to the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff, March 3-4 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.)

  • Should UW secure the WCHA regular season crown, it would be the seventh in program history. The Badgers would also join the 2012-13 through 2014-15 Minnesota Golden Gophers as the only two teams to "three-peat" as regular season champs in WCHA history.

- #NewTough: This weekend, the WCHA is proud to partner with the Headway Foundation for a Concussion Awareness Weekend. Over the weekend, which aims to provide a platform for players to unite in creating a positive mental shift in athletes' approach to concussions, all WCHA Men's and Women's League student-athletes will be wearing Headway stickers on their helmets to promote a "New Tough Campaign."

  • The WCHA is joining with student-athletes from ECAC Hockey and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) on this initiative, which encourages student-athletes to: Report possible concussion symptoms and stay patient during recovery; encourage brain-injured teammates to seek help and offer support while they heal; and, play the game within its rules (avoiding illegal hits from behind, and to the back).

- WCHA on FOX Sports North: Five of the last six WCHA regular season weekends (since Jan. 13) are featuring at least one game on FOX Sports North, FOX Sports North PLUS and/or FOX Sports Wisconsin (all streamed on FOX Sports GO).

  • This weekend's FOX Sports North broadcast originates from the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, as St. Cloud State will host No. 7 Minnesota on Saturday at 3:07 p.m. CT.

- #WeAreWCHA: The NCAA's top-three attendance leaders are all WCHA teams. Wisconsin leads the country with an average attendance of 2,253 per game at LaBahn Arena, Minnesota is second by welcoming 1,684 fans to Ridder Arena and Minnesota Duluth ranks third with 1,229 per game joining Bulldog Country at AMSOIL Arena.

By the Numbers

- 1: Win needed by Minnesota to reach the 20-win plateau for the 21st-straight season -- every year of the program's history.

- 3: Points needed by Bemidji State's Alexis Joyce to tie for second on the school's all-time points list by a blueliner. The senior has 74 points (20g-54a) in 138 collegiate games.

- 37: Current or former WCHA players named to 2018 Olympic teams for the United States (14), Canada (nine), Finland (seven), Sweden (five) and Switzerland (two).

The Weekend Ahead

- No. 1 Wisconsin at No. 6 Ohio State: The only top-10 matchup in women's college hockey this weekend sees the top-ranked Badgers visiting the No. 6 Buckeyes needing just one point to secure a share of the WCHA regular season title (and two points to win it outright). UW swept the No. 4-5 series in Madison, winning 7-0 and 3-1.

- Bemidji State at Minnesota State: The Beavers enter a crucial series in Mankato trailing idle Minnesota Duluth by four points in the race for fourth place (and the final home ice spot for the quarterfinal round of the WCHA Playoffs). Bemidji State is 39-26-10 all-time against the Mavericks, including a home sweep Dec. 15 (4-2) and Dec. 16 (5-0). Minnesota State begins a season-ending, six-game homestand with this series.

- No. 7 Minnesota at St. Cloud State: The Huskies will celebrate Senior Weekend, honoring the final regular season home games for their four graduating seniors. The Gophers are on a 37-game winning streak over the Huskies dating back to Oct. 2010, including a 3-0-0 mark this season at Ridder Arena (a WCHA sweep Nov. 17-18 and a nonconference win Jan. 9).

- Minnesota Whitecaps at Minnesota Duluth: The Bulldogs welcome the Whitecaps for a Saturday night exhibition contest.