Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Week in the WCHA

The standings are tight thus far, but it's early!

Everybody is back in action this weekend in the WCHA except Denver, who takes a much-needed week off to prepare for surging North Dakota and contemplate life without goaltender Marc Cheverie for the next few weeks. Eight WCHA teams face off against each other and the Gophers will play host to top-ten-ranked Bemidji State in non-conference play.

Taking a look at the conference match-ups....

Michigan Tech (2-6-0, 1-5-0 in WCHA) at UMD (6-3-1, 3-2-1 in WCHA)
  • The Michigan Tech Huskies head to Duluth to take on the Bulldogs after being swept at home last weekend against North Dakota. UMD is fresh off a weekend split at Colorado College.
  • MTU sophomore forward Brett Olson is off to a great start, netting 4-6-10 in 8 games this season. Not to be out-done is senior captain Malcolm Gwilliam (pictured right), who leads all Huskies with five goals, and has added four assists, for nine points. It is quite a start for Gwilliam, who missed virtually all of last season with a knee injury and also missed the entire 2005-06 campaign due to injury.
  • UMD continues to feature three of the WCHA's top scorers. Sophomore Jack Connolly (6-9-15), and juniors Justin Fontaine (7-6-13) and Rob Bordson (3-10-13) each rank among the top point-getters in the league.
  • Not to go un-noticed has been the solid goaltending provided by UMD's sophomore goaltenders Brady Hjelle (pictured left) and Kenny Reiter. In seven games, Hjelle has sported a 4-2-1 record with a .900 save percentage, while Reiter has actually posted better numbers (.921 save percentage and 2.12 GAA) in his four starts. With Alex Stalock carrying the heavy load for UMD in past seasons, and two inexperienced netminders left behind after Stalock's early departure, the solid goaltending early on has been an added bonus for the Bulldogs.
  • As the Duluth News-Tribune's Kevin Pates reports, UMD has suspended junior defenseman Chad Huttel for Friday's game as a result of his actions in Saturday's loss at Colorado College.
  • The Huskies and Bulldogs hooked-up for two series last season, with UMD winning two games and two contests ending in ties.
  • MTU Schedule, Team Stats, Roster
  • UMD Schedule, Team Stats, Roster
  • Donny Puck Prediction: UMD Sweep 
Colorado College (5-2-1, 4-1-1 in WCHA) at Minnesota State (3-4-1, 1-4-1 in WCHA)
  • Colorado College, fresh off a weekend split at home against UMD, will hit the road and visit the MSU Mavericks this weekend. MSU was idle last weekend after getting one out of a possible four points the weekend prior at Denver.
  • CC's Rylan Schwartz and Bill Sweatt (pictured right) had big series' last weekend against UMD. The freshman Schwartz had 1-2-3 in Saturday's game, and is off to a fine start to his collegiate career (3-7-10). The senior forward Sweatt was 2-2-4 this past weekend and leads the Tigers in scoring with 5-9-14 in 8 games. Junior forward Tyler Johnson (5-5-10) is also off to a fine start up front.  
  • CC's power play has hit at a 34% success rate this season.
  • For MSU, the scoring attack has been balanced so far this season. Junior forward Rylan Galiardi (pictured left) leads the team in scoring with 3-3-6, followed by five players who have amassed five points and four players who have notched four points.
  • All three MSU goaltenders have seen action, and all three have fashioned a .900 save percentage. Sophomore Austin Lee is the most experienced of the group, but freshmen Phil Cook and Kevin Murdock have also seen action.
  • The two teams played two series against each other last season and split the four games. All-time, CC leads the series 25-12-1.
  • CC Schedule, Team Stats, Roster
  • MSU Schedule, Team Stats, Roster
  • Donny Puck Prediction: Split
St. Cloud State (3-3-2, 2-1-1 in WCHA) at North Dakota (6-1-1, 4-1-1 in WCHA)
  • Fresh off a bye week, St. Cloud State ventures north to take on the Fighting Sioux at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. UND is coming off a road sweep last weekend at Michigan Tech.
  • St. Cloud's junior forward Garrett Roe (pictured right) picked up his 100th career point two weeks ago and is tied for the Huskies' lead in scoring this season with 2-6-8. Junior Tony Mosey (3-3-6) shares the team lead with Roe.
  • The play of SCSU's goaltenders has been strong despite the .500 team record. Junior Dan Dunn (1.98 GAA, .924 Sv%) and freshman Mike Lee (2.15 GAA, .924 Sv%) have each been solid.
  • UND junior forward Evan Trupp won the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors with three goals at Michigan Tech. He is third in team scoring (4-4-8) behind senior defenseman Chay Genoway (4-6-10) and senior forward Chris VandeVelde (2-7-9).
  • The Grand Forks Herald's Brad Elliott Schlossman reports that sophomore forward Brett Hextall may not play again this weekend after missing last week's series against MTU.
  • The two teams met for two series last season, with the Sioux winning three of four games. UND won both contests last season in Grand Forks.
  • SCSU Schedule, Team Stats, Roster
  • UND Schedule, Team Stats, Roster
  • Donny Puck Prediction: North Dakota Win, Tie
Alaska-Anchorage (4-6-0, 2-4-0 in WCHA) at Wisconsin (4-3-1, 2-3-1 in WCHA)
  • UAA hits the road this week after a home split last weekend against Denver, which was highlighted by an impressive 7-3 thrashing of DU on Saturday night. Wisconsin split against Minnesota in Madison.
  • Alaska-Anchorage continues to be led by senior Kevin Clark (5-3-8) and junior Tommy Grant (2-6-8, and pictured right) this season. The scoring attack has been relatively balanced with seven Seawolves picking up at least five points this season.
  • Wisconsin's Blake Geoffrion had a fine series against Minnesota last week, notching three goals. He leads the Badgers with five goals and is second behind Brendan Smith (2-7-9) in overall scoring with 5-2-7.
  • Wisconsin fired 79 shots on the Minnesota net last weekend and came away with only two points. Junior goaltender Brett Bennett was solid Friday night in the Badgers' victory but was shaky in the Saturday night loss.
  • The two teams met for two series last year, and the Badgers won all four games.
  • UAA Schedule, Team Stats, Roster
  • UW Schedule, Team Stats, Roster
  • Donny Puck Prediction: Wisconsin Sweep

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