UW Health Sports Medicine 

WCHA Women's Notebook (Oct. 18, 2011)

Welcome to the WCHA Women's Notebook. Each week Ross LaDue from the UW Athletic Communications office breaks down the past weekend of action in the women's side of the WCHA and look ahead to the coming weekend.

This past weekend saw mostly nonconference matchups take place, with the marquee event being right here in Madison, between the No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers and No. 3 Minnesota Golden Gophers. The only other WCHA contest was between St. Cloud State and Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.  The rest of the conference was busy playing eastern teams as Bemidji State, Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth traveled to Maine, Robert Morris and UConn, respectively. North Dakota stayed in Grand Forks to host Vermont.

Weekend Recap

Bemidji State at Maine
This series had one of the most surprising games of the weekend as the Beavers swept the Black Bears, winning the first game 3-2 in overtime and routing them 7-0 in the finale. The weekend was riddled with penalties as both teams totaled 30 minutes of penalties. Maine scored on a penalty shot on Friday and three of the other five goals in the game came on the power play.

The biggest surprise came in Saturday's game. After BSU scored its third goal of the third period, Maine pulled goaltender Kylie Smith at the 8:43 mark, but instead of putting in Brittany Ott, who played the day before, the Black Bears opted for a sixth skater and an empty net with 12 minutes left in the game. Needless to say the Beavers later scored on the empty net, which prompted the opening to be filled by Ott. However, the Black Bears continued to swap back-and-forth between an empty net and one with Ott. Bemidji State scored a final empty netter, as Maine's strategy of playing without a goalie for a more than 6 minutes failed to produce any goals.

Bemidji State players of notes: Emily Erickson recorded three goals and one assist on the weekend, while Erika Wheelhouse, last week's WCHA Defensive Player of the week, netted two goals. Slovakian goaltender Zuzana Tomcikova made 25 saves in the first game to record her second win of the season, while Alana McElhinney saw her first minutes of the season making 17 saves in the 7-0 win.

No. 6 Minnesota Duluth at Connecticut
A struggling UConn team hosting a national power-house had all the markings for a blowout so it was a bit surprising to see the Huskies net four goals on the Bulldogs and only lose by one in Friday's game. Whatever defensive lapses the Bulldogs had on Friday were erased on Saturday as they cruised to a 6-1 victory over the Huskies.

Minnesota Duluth players of notes: The Bulldogs did a good job of spreading the points around. In Friday's game no one had more than one goal or one assist and the only players to record more than one point in the game were Audrey Cournoyer and Katherine Wilson, who both had one goal and one assist. Both Cournoyer and Wilson were held to one assist on Saturday as Haley Irwin, Jenna McParland and Pernilla Winberg all recorded two points each. Jenny Harss made 38 saves on the weekend letting in five goals, not her best performance, but it was good enough to get two wins.

Minnesota State at Robert Morris
The Mavericks saw themselves with a 3-1 lead on Friday night before taking a nose dive in the last half of the game allowing Robert Morris to score three consecutive goals, including the game-winner in overtime. Exacting revenge, Minnesota State scored three consecutive goals to start off the game on Saturday. MSU would give up a shorthanded goal in the third, but would keep the lead to post their fourth win of the season.

Minnesota State players of notes:
The teams's leading goal scorer, Lauren Smith was, kept off the score sheet in both games, while last year's leading scorer, Kathleen Rogan, was kept to one goal on the weekend. Emilia Andersson was the only Maverick to score more than one goal as she netted two. Inconsistency has plagued the Minnesota State goaltending corps for the past few seasons and this weekend was no exception. Senior Alli Altmann played both games and struggled in Friday's contest stopping 18 of 22, but played well on Saturday stopping 23 of 24.

No. 7 North Dakota vs Vermont
With only one win on the season, I expected North Dakota to enter this series hungry for two wins. Granted the three loses the Sioux suffered in their first four games were to teams ranked higher than them, North Dakota is a much better team than they ever have been and they were hosting a fairly weak Vermont squad. The score from Saturday's game would suggest the Sioux had a lot of pent up frustration that was taken out on the Catamounts. Within the first three minutes of the game, the Sioux had already taken a 2-0 lead. UND scored two more in the second period before adding five in the third to win the first game 9-1. Sunday's game saw Vermont actually score first and hold the 1-0 lead until the final seconds of the opening period. The Sioux then went on to win by a modest 4-1 margin.

North Dakota players of note:
In Saturday's blowout, European standouts Michelle Karvinen and Andrea Dalen both scored two goals and tallied one assist, while Jocelyne Lamoureux scored two goals and helped on three others. Lamoureux's twin sister Monique Lamoureux-Kolls had two assists in the game. The twins would add one goal and one assist each in Sunday's game. Karvinen added two more helpers in the final game. Both UND netminders played over the weekend as Stephanie Ney got the nod in Saturday's contest, making 14 of 15 saves for her second win of the season. Jorid Dagfinrud got her first start of the season on Sunday and made 14 of 15 saves as well, with nine of those saves coming in the first period.

St. Cloud State at Ohio State
This series saw the most predictable scores of the weekend as Ohio State put up 5-1 scores both nights. SCSU actually scored the opening goal of the weekend, but gave up 10 straight before scoring the closing goal of the series.

Ohio State player notes: The Buckeyes' offense is led by the trio of Natalie Spooner, Laura McIntosh and Hokey Langan. Also sophomore Ally Tarr has been a pleasant surprise on offense for Ohio State so far this season. Spooner and McIntosh had a consistent weekend as they both recorded one goal and one assist each night. Langan has had a quiet start to the season and only tallied one goal all weekend. Tarr chipped in with a three point weekend. The biggest news for Ohio State on defense this year has been the return of their goaltender Chelsea Knapp who missed all of last year due to surgery rehab. However, Knapp wasn't the most elite before her absence and last year's true freshman Lisa Steffes played the most minutes of any goaltender in the nation and did a very acceptable job in net. Both goalies played a game on the weekend and it doesn't look like OSU has No. 1 goalie selected yet.

St. Cloud State players of note: Goaltender Tayler VanDenakker played both games of the series making 77 saves. VanDenakker has large shoes to fill after Ashley Nixon graduated at the end of last season. Nixon was a staple in net for the Huskies and was one of the better goalies in the conference even though her numbers didn't reflect it. VanDenakker looks to be a solid replacement, but with the weak SCSU defense don't expect her to be stealing any games too soon. Defender Jocelyn Zabrick has been seeing time up front at forward recently and scored the lone goal on Friday night.

No. 3 Minnesota at No. 1 Wisconsin
In the biggest game of the weekend in women's college hockey, the No. 3 Golden Gophers looked to topple the No. 1 Badgers as both teams entered the weekend with a 4-0-0 record. Overall, not much was decided. The weekend was a split, giving Ohio State the best record in the WCHA after four conference games. The two games were almost exact opposites of each other as Friday's contest saw the Gophers start the game flat and have a late rally fall short, while the Badgers did pretty much the same on Sunday. Both games had the same score line of 3-2, though on Friday the Badgers scored 3-0 and never lost the lead, while on Sunday the Gophers lost a 2-0 lead only to gain a 3-2 edge in the third period. The note of the weekend was Minnesota ending Wisconsin's unbeaten streak at 32 games.

Minnesota players of note: Leading goal scorer, Amanda Kessel was kept off the score sheet in Friday's loss, but she came back to score the game-winner on Sunday. Finnish goaltender Noora Räty made 50 saves on the weekend conceding five goals.

Wisconsin players of note: Carolyne Prévost scored two goals including the game-winner on Friday and assisted on both goals on Sunday, which were scored by Brooke Ammerman. Both Prévost and Brooke Ammerman have tallied at least one point so far in each of their games played this season. Sophomore netminder Alex Rigsby also conceded five goals on the weekend, but recorded two more saves than Räty in the series.

Possible WCHA Player of the Week winners (in order of likeliness)

Offensive Player of the Week
Jocelyne Lamoureux (UND) - 7 points (3G, 4A), 1 game-winning goal, 13 shots, +5 plus/minus
Emily Erickson (BSU) - 5 points (3G, 2A), 1 game-winning assist, 13 shots, +4 plus/minus
Carolyne Prévost (UW) - 4 points (2G, 2A), 1 game-winning goal, 5 shots, +3 plus/minus

Defensive Player of the Week
Jessica Wong (UMD) - 2 points (2G, 0A), 1 game-winning goal, 9 shots, +3 plus/minus
Erika Wheelhouse (BSU) - 2 points (2G, 0A), 8 shots, +3 plus/minus
Jennifer Harss (UMD) - 2 wins, 38 saves, only goalie to record two wins
Noora Räty (UM) - 1 win, 50 saves

Rookie of the Week
Michelle Karvinen (UND) - 5 points (2G, 3A), 2 game-winning assists, 10 shots, +5 plus/minus
Taylor Kuehl (OSU) - 3 points (0G, 3A), 8 shots, +3 plus/minus
Rachael Kelly (BSU) - 2 points (1G, 1A),1 game-winning assist in OT, 1 shot, +1 plus/minus

Looking Forward

Minnesota State at No. 2 Minnesota
I see Minnesota sweeping this one. Minnesota State's goaltending and defense won't be able to stop the offensive power of the Gophers. The Mavericks may net a couple goals of their own, but I wouldn't expect any more than two or three all weekend get past Räty.

St. Cloud State at Bemidji State
Before the season began I wouldn't have been surprised to see one close game of two in the series. However, with the way the Beaver offense has been playing, they should come away with an easy weekend sweep.

Ohio State at No. 7 North Dakota
For a UND sweep the Sioux will have to rely on their defense and goaltending. The North Dakota offense should easily overpower Ohio State's defense, but if UND can't keep Spooner and McIntosh contained I wouldn't be surprised to see the Buckeyes squeeze out a win.

No. 1 Wisconsin at No. 6 Minnesota Duluth

Wisconsin will need to limit the two biggest scoring threats that UMD has by slowing down and limiting Haley Irwin while also containing Jessica Wong at the blue line. UMD goaltender Jenny Harss takes up a lot of room in net with her large pads and her glove is quick, but in the past, she has had poor rebound control and a weak five-hole. The Badgers will need to crash the net, in hopes for second and third-opportunity shots to score goals.