- 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff: The nation's premier conference tournament is set, as the Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) will host the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff this weekend at Ridder Arena. The stellar four-team championship field features three of the country's top-ranked teams.
- Top-ranked Wisconsin, the No. 1 seed, earned a bye directly into the Final Faceoff by capturing its third-straight WCHA regular season championship. The Badgers are playing in their eighth WCHA Final Faceoff in a row and are looking for their unprecedented fourth-consecutive title, having defeated BSU (4-0) in 2015 at Ralph Engelstad Arena, along with UMN (1-0) and UMD (4-1) at Ridder Arena the last two seasons. UW owns a league-record seven WCHA postseason crowns.
- Nationally fifth-ranked Ohio State, the No. 2 seed, is back in the WCHA Final Faceoff for the first time since 2013 after sweeping Minnesota State in the quarterfinals last weekend. The Buckeyes have set a program record with 23 wins (23-9-4), after also setting a new standard with 14 victories in league play (14-6-4). OSU is in search of its first WCHA playoff title.
- Minnesota, ranked No. 7 nationally, is the No. 3 seed. The Gophers, amid their 21st-consecutive 20-win campaign, swept St. Cloud State to make their 19th-consecutive appearance in the semifinals. UMN has won six WCHA playoff championships, with their last coming in 2014.
- Bemidji State earned their way back to the WCHA Final Faceoff for the first time since 2015 by going on the road and upsetting host Minnesota Duluth in a three-game quarterfinal-round series.
- A Little Help From our Friends: The 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff is brought to you in part by supporting sponsors GoodWood Hockey, John Buccigross, Howies Hockey Tape, Hockey WrapAround, Krampade, FOX Sports North, Let's Play Hockey and Sports Minneapolis.
- On the Airwaves: Saturday's semifinal games will be streamed, for free, live on BTN2Go. Sunday's championship game will air live on FOX Sports North PLUS and FOX Sports Wisconsin, and will also be available on FOX Sports Go.
- Jack Swanson returns to handle play-by-play duties for all three games, while three-time Olympian Natalie Darwitz will join him for the championship game.
- Championship Hardware: The Badgers, Buckeyes, Gophers and Beavers will be playing for a new WCHA Final Faceoff trophy, made possible by the generosity of ESPN's John Buccigross and his #bucciovertimechallenge and #cawlidgehawkey initiative.
- Badgers Go Back-to-Back-to-Back: Wisconsin won its third-straight WCHA regular season championship, joining Minnesota (2013-15) as the only teams in league history to go back-to-back-to-back. The Badgers have captured seven WCHA regular season titles (all under head coach Mark Johnson, the most by any bench boss in WCHA history).
- Olympic Year: The WCHA was proud and honored to have 37 current and former players competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics, representing seven universities and playing for five countries.
- Thirty (30) players with WCHA ties brought home medals, including 14 that helped Team USA win its first gold since 1998. Canada's silver medalists featured nine WCHA players, while seven alumnae earned bronze with Finland.
- Ten (10) of those Olympians competed at the 2017 WCHA Final Face-Off: Team USA's Maddie Rooney (UMD), Lee Stecklein (UMN), Sidney Morin (UMD), Dani Cameranesi (UMN) and Kelly Pannek (UMN); Canada's Ann-Renée Desbiens (UW), Emily Clark (UW) and Sarah Nurse (UW); Finland's Emma Nuutinen (UND) and Switzerland's Lara Stalder (UMD).
By the Numbers (2018 WCHA Final Faceoff Edition)
- 2: 2018 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award top-10 finalists that will take the ice this weekend, in Minnesota senior Sydney Baldwin (the nation's second-highest scoring D-I blueliner) and Wisconsin sophomore goaltender Kristen Campbell.
- 4: Categories in which Campbell leads all NCAA Division I goaltenders: Winning percentage (.882, 29-3-2), goals-against average (1.14), save percentage (.942) and shutouts (11).
- 12: Consecutive WCHA tournament wins by Wisconsin, a streak that dates back to the 2014-15 season. During the run, the Badgers have outscored their opponents 52-5 (including seven shutouts).
- 27: Points in 24 league games by Minnesota freshman Grace Zumwinkle (11g-16a), becoming the WCHA's first rookie scoring champion since Ohio State's Hokey Langan in the 2009-10 season.
- 40: Points in 34 games overall by Ohio State freshman Emma Maltais, the most by an Ohio State skater since two-time Olympic medalist Natalie Spooner collected 50 in 2011-12.
- 147: Consecutive games played by Bemidji State senior Alexis Joyce, a program record. Joyce, who has not missed a game in her collegiate career, has 81 career points (22g-59a), the second-most in BSU history for a blueliner.
2018 WCHA Final Faceoff (Seeds in Parentheses)
- Semifinal #1, (1) Wisconsin vs. (4) Bemidji State: UW leads the all-time series, 70-5-4, including a perfect 4-0 mark in postseason play. The Badgers won the 2017-18 regular season series, 3-0-1 (with a pair of OT contests Jan. 19 and 20 in Bemidji).
- Semifinal #2, (2) Ohio State vs. (3) Minnesota: OSU won the season series, 3-0-1. The Buckeyes earned five points at Ridder Arena Oct. 6-7 with a win and a tie (plus a shootout victory), then swept the Gophers for the first time ever Jan. 19-20 in Columbus.