With conference play in full force, the WCHA is set for a pair of pivotal matchups this weekend as four of the top five teams clash with crucial points up for grabs.
Michigan Tech leads the WCHA with 18 points, stemming from a perfect 6-0 conference record. The Huskies host Bemidji State this weekend for a pair of games Friday and Saturday. The Beavers sit in fifth place in the conference with 12 points off of a 4-2 record.
While both programs got back into the win column following sweeps the weekend of Nov. 14, each fell just shy of the top-20 ranking this Monday.
The Huskies swept Alaska with a one-goal victory on Friday before junior Gavin Gould’s hat trick led the team to a 7-2 thrashing Saturday. Sitting at 7-5 overall, the Huskies’ season has hinged on their perfect conference record thus far.
“Hopefully it was a good buy-in game for our team to understand how to be critical, attack the net, defend well, and transition quickly,” Huskies coach Joe Shawhan told Jamie Glenn of The Daily Mining Gazette following Saturday’s win.
The Huskies’ newfound offense puts them in the driver’s seat for their second four-game winning streak of the young season. Bemidji State’s conservative to start the season has dropped off, having lost four of their past five. It hasn’t been without admirable play, having faced No. 2 St. Cloud State and No. 3 Minnesota State in consecutive weeks.
A Michigan Tech sweep would raise the Huskies’ conference standing by a massive six points with two WCHA rivals on their heels squaring off this weekend. But after playing some of the league’s best over the past two weeks, Tech should be more to their level.
No. 4-ranked Minnesota State sits just three points back on Tech with 15 conference points (5-1). In fourth place comes No. 20-ranked Lake Superior State, which has strung together a strong start to the season with 13 points (4-3-1).
The Mavericks (10-2 overall) visit the Lakers this weekend, where another six vital points are up in the air for two teams coming off series splits with conference foes.
Bemidji State snapped a seven-game winning streak by the Mavericks this past Saturday, who enter Sault Ste. Marie with both of their losses coming on the road. The Mavericks opened the season with blazing offense led by Parker Tuomie but were held to just five total goals this weekend, their fewest in a series this year.
Mavericks coach Mike Hastings gave Bemidji State the props they deserved following his team’s loss, stating, “adversity is something you need to deal with,” and that his team hasn’t dealt with it a lot given their recent success.
The Lakers (7-4-1 overall) are a much more dangerous team than their record indicates. Even with four straight series splits, the Lakers are getting a more consistent offensive effort that coach Damon Whitten to start the season.
Freshman Jacob Nordqvist leads all WCHA freshmen with 10 points (2 G, 8 A) in 12 games while senior Anthony Nellis has a team-leading eight goals and 14 points.
Nick Kossoff (5-1-1) is beginning to claim the crease from Mareks Mitens (2-3) and is helping the Lakers hang in with the best as two of the aforementioned splits came against No 12 Michigan and No. 10 Bowling Green.
Another split would benefit both the Mavericks and the Lakers in an attempt to stay tight to Tech. But should either team come away with a pair of wins, Tech will find opponents catching up quick.
Don’t miss any of the WCHA action this weekend, tune in right here on FloHockey to stream each game live.
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