WCHA Week 19: Penultimate Regular Season Weekend
Bemidji State hosts St. Cloud State, Minnesota Duluth welcomes No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 5 Ohio State visits Minnesota State
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Minnesota Duluth hosts a pair of games against Wisconsin this weekend

Opening Faceoff

- Playoffs Picture Comes into Focus: With just two weekends and 12 games remaining in the 2017-18 regular season for the Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), the postseason tournament picture looks like this:

  • Nos. 1-2 seed: Wisconsin needs a combination of two points won and/or lost by Ohio State to clinch a share of the WCHA regular season title and the No. 1 seed (and, with it, a quarterfinal-round bye and automatic berth into the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff). The Badgers need a combination of three points (again, won and/or lost by OSU) to outright clinch its third-straight WCHA regular season championship and seventh in program history.
  • Nos. 2-3 seed: Ohio State can finish no worse than third place, meaning that if they cannot catch the Badgers, the Buckeyes will host in the WCHA Quarterfinals. Minnesota will, for sure, host a quarterfinal-round series as either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed (a combination of five OSU points won and/or UMN points lost clinches second for the Buckeyes).
  • Nos. 4-5 seed: The 4-5 matchup in the WCHA Quarterfinals will be Minnesota Duluth vs. Bemidji State, as they are locked into those spots. The only question is where that series will be held, as the Bulldogs currently have a one-point lead for home ice. UMD hosts Wisconsin and is at Minnesota State to end the season, while BSU hosts St. Cloud State before visiting Ohio State.
  • Nos. 6-7 seed: A combination of one St. Cloud State point won and/or Minnesota State point lost locks the Huskies in as the No. 6 seed and the Mavericks into the No. 7 spot.

- A Look at the Rankings: Three WCHA teams are ranked in both the USCHO.com and USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine polls: No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 5 Ohio State (up one spot after sweeping then-No. 1 UW last weekend) and No. 7 Minnesota. A fourth team, Minnesota Duluth, is receiving votes in both polls.

  • Despite dropping a spot in the opinion polls, the Badgers are still No. 1 in the PairWise Rankings entering the weekend. The Buckeyes are fifth, while the Gophers are sixth.

- 2018 Winter Olympics: Thirty-seven (37) current or former WCHA players, including four current student-athletes, will compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Read more at: www.wcha.com/women/pres1718/201802/feb8bro.php.)

  • The WCHA contingent is representing the United States (14 players), Canada (nine), Finland (seven), Sweden (five) and Switzerland (two), and hails from the University of Minnesota Duluth (nine players), the University of Wisconsin (nine), the University of Minnesota (eight), the University of North Dakota (six), Ohio State University (three), Minnesota State University (one) and St. Cloud State University (one).
  • The four with collegiate eligibility remaining are: Team USA's Kelly Pannek (UMN) and Maddie Rooney (UMD), Team Canada's Emily Clark (UW) and Team Switzerland's Janine Alder (SCSU).

- NWHL All-Stars: Eight (8) WCHA alumnae will participate in the 2018 NWHL All-Star Weekend festivities in St. Paul, Minn. The NWHL is holding its Saturday skills competition and Sunday's All-Star Game at TRIA Rink at Treasure Island Center.

  • The All-Stars include Minnesota Whitecaps skaters Sadie Lundquist (Bemidji State) and Kate Schipper (Minnesota), along with NWHL players Jordyn Burns and captain Amanda Leveille (Minnesota), Lisa Chesson (Ohio State), Katie Fitzgerald (St. Cloud State), and former Wisconsin teammates Courtney Burke and Jenny Ryan.

By the Numbers

- 1: Minnesota State freshman forward Mariah Gardner picked up her first collegiate point in a fun fashion last Saturday, assisting on a goal by her sister, sophomore Demi Gardner, in a game against Bemidji State.

- 2: 30-point scorers for Ohio State, most by a Buckeyes team since 2010-11. Freshmen Emma Maltais (13g-23a--36pts) and Tatum Skaggs (19-14--33) are the high-scoring OSU duo.

- 19: Wins by Ohio State, its most since the 2012-13 season (19-15-3) and one shy of matching the program record (20-13-4 in 2006-07).

- 21: Consecutive 20-win seasons for Minnesota -- every year of the program's illustrious history.

- 78: Career points for Bemidji State senior Alexis Joyce (21g-57a), the second-most by a blueliner in program history. Joyce reached the milestone in impressive fashion, with a career-best four-point effort (1g-3a) in a 5-3 win vs. Minnesota State.


The Week Ahead

- St. Cloud State at Bemidji State: The Huskies wrap up their regular season schedule in Bemidji, where the Beavers will honor their six seniors. The Beavers are 39-35-9 all-time against the Huskies, including 2-1-0 in 2017-18 (a sweep in St. Cloud on Nov. 10-11, before dropping a nonconference game Nov. 22). Beginning with that Nov. 22 triumph, SCSU is 4-6-5 (the Huskies began the season 2-12-0).

- No. 2 Wisconsin at Minnesota Duluth: The No. 2 Badgers hope to wrap up the WCHA regular season title in Duluth, while the Bulldogs are fighting to maintain home ice in the WCHA Quarterfinals. UMD will honor its seven seniors following Saturday's contest. Wisconsin has won 18 of the last 22 meetings, including a home sweep on Dec. 1-2. With that surge, UW now leads the all-time series, 44-30-13.

- No. 5 Ohio State at Minnesota State: The fifth-ranked Buckeyes hope to continue applying pressure on league-leading Wisconsin, while the Mavericks continue their season-ending homestand. OSU won both games in Columbus on Nov. 10-11.


The Week in Review

- In-state rivals met in Mankato, with host Minnesota State and Bemidji State each coming away with a win.

- Ohio State turned in the most impressive performance yet in what is becoming a special season, as the sixth-ranked Buckeyes swept No. 1 Wisconsin for the first time since 2010.

- St. Cloud State used a dramatic rally Friday to tie No. 7 Minnesota and snap a 37-game losing streak to the Gophers; however, UMN bounced back with a win Saturday for the four-point weekend.

- Minnesota Duluth tuned up for its showdown this coming weekend with Wisconsin by skating to a 2-2 draw with the Minnesota Whitecaps in a Saturday exhibition contest.

- Watch all the top goals, plays and saves from last weekend on the "WCHA Highlight Reel," found on the WCHA YouTube channel.

- Full recaps and box scores are available at wcha.com.


at Minnesota State 3, Bemidji State 1
Bemidji State 5, at Minnesota State 3
(Feb. 2 and 3 at Verizon Center; Mankato, Minn.)

In-state rivals met in Mankato, with host Minnesota State and Bemidji State each coming away with a win.

Senior defenseman Anna Keys led the Mavericks to a 3-1 win Friday, factoring in all three goals. She assisted on Megan Hinze's opening goal, snapped a 1-1 tie with the game-winning, power-play strike at 18:57 of the second period and fed Jordan McLaughlin for an empty-netter. BSU redshirt freshman goaltender Lauren Bench made a career-best 38 saves.

Another senior blueliner was the difference Saturday, as this time Bemidji State won, 5-3, behind Alexis Joyce's career-high four-point effort (1g-3a). Joyce scored the first BSU goal, then assisted on the second (Emma Terres), fourth (Mak Langei's game-winner) and fifth (Emily Bergland) tallies.


at No. 6 Ohio State 1, No. 1 Wisconsin 0
at No. 6 Ohio State 3, No. 1 Wisconsin 1
(Feb. 2 and 3 at OSU Ice Rink; Columbus, Ohio)

Ohio State turned in the most impressive performance yet in what is becoming a special season, as the sixth-ranked Buckeyes swept No. 1 Wisconsin for the first time since 2010.

Freshman Emma Maltais scored the game's only goal 15 seconds into the second period and Kassidy Sauvé made 26 saves in a 1-0 OSU victory in Friday's series opener. Wisconsin was outshot for only the second time all season (27-26), while Sauvé made 12 stops in the third period to preserve the win and her 20th career shutout.

Tied 1-1 after 40 minutes Saturday, Charly Dahlquist and Tatum Skaggs scored third-period goals to lift OSU to a 3-1 win and sweep. Maltais scored to tie the game in the second period and assisted on the game-winner, while Skaggs assisted on the two goals she did not score. Sauvé was again brilliant, turning aside 34-of-35 shots.


at St. Cloud State 3, No. 7 Minnesota 3 - OT (SCSU wins shootout, 1-0)
No. 7 Minnesota 5, at St. Cloud State 2
(Feb. 2 and 3 at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center; St. Cloud, Minn.)

St. Cloud State used a dramatic rally Friday to tie No. 7 Minnesota and snap a 37-game losing streak to the Gophers; however, UMN bounced back with a win Saturday for the four-point weekend.

Trailing by two with just over two minutes to play Friday, Julia Tylke helped orchestrate a thrilling comeback in a 3-3 tie. Tylke assisted on Kayla Friesen's goal at the 17:47 mark of the third period, before netting the tying marker herself with just 1:32 remaining in regulation. Friesen struck again in the shootout, scoring the only goal to give the Huskies an extra point in the WCHA standings. SCSU freshman goaltender Emma Polusny made 38 saves through 65 minutes and stopped all three Minnesota shootout attempts.

Minnesota bounced back Saturday for a 5-2 win, as Lindsey Agnew and Sydney Baldwin each scored two goals apiece. Agnew's two scores gave the Gophers a 2-1 lead after the first period, while Baldwin netted the game-winner 9:29 into the second stanza and added an insurance goal at 3:42 of the third.


at Minnesota Duluth 2, Minnesota Whitecaps 2 (Exhibition)
(Feb. 3 at AMSOIL Arena; Duluth, Minn.)

Minnesota Duluth tuned up for its showdown this coming weekend with Wisconsin by skating to a 2-2 draw with the Minnesota Whitecaps in a Saturday exhibition contest.

Sydney Brodt scored both goals for the Bulldogs, while the Whitecaps used their considerable WCHA presence in the tie. Both Whitecaps goals were scored by WCHA alumnae (Bemidji State's Sadie Lundquist and North Dakota's Amy Menke), while former St. Cloud State goaltender Julie Friend made 35 saves.