WCHA Women's Notebook (Nov. 1, 2011)

Welcome to the This Week in Women's WCHA. 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.

Out of three conference series this past weekend, only one resulted in a sweep and it wasn't the No.2 Minnesota Golden Gophers at Bemidji State. Ohio State got the weekend sweep over Minnesota State in two very close defensive games. Minnesota Duluth routed North Dakota, 6-1, before the two teams skated to a 2-2 tie on Sunday. Minnesota took the first game in Bemidji, 4-1, but the Beavers rebounded to claim a big upset over the Gophers on Saturday. In nonconference action, St. Cloud State tied and lost to Robert Morris, while Wisconsin breezed past an injury-riddled Boston University in Madison, Wis.  


Weekend Recap

Robert Morris at St. Cloud State
The Huskies saw a promising start to the weekend, as they battled back from a 2-1 deficit to tie the game in the third period. A penalty at the end of regulation gave Robert Morris a two-minute man advantage to start overtime and while that hurt the Huskies, they withstood the pressure and forced the tie. They went on to win a shootout, 2-0, but it was just for bragging rights. In Saturday's game, St. Cloud State out-shot the Colonials, but fell by a score of 3-1.  

St. Cloud State players of note: The goaltending duo was solid over the weekend, their numbers may not have been absolutely stellar, but they were definitely good enough to give the Huskies a chance to win. Talyer VanDenakker played in the 2-2 tie on Friday making 25 stops, including four in OT. Julie Friend played on Saturday and made 21 saves in the 3-1 loss. Abby Ness tallied two helpers on the weekend as she was the only Husky to record more than one point, she also scored on her attempt in the shootout on Friday.

No. 4 Boston University at No. 1 Wisconsin
The Terriers entered Madison for the first time in program history, but Marie-Philip Poulin and Jenelle Kohanchuk didn't make the trip as they were out with injuries. Boston University still had last year's top scorer in Jenn Wakefield and sophomore goaltender Kerrin Sperry who helped the Terriers reach the Frozen Four final as a freshman. However, the Kohl Center is a difficult venue for visiting teams. The Badgers played nearly 120 minutes of solid hockey and swept the Terriers by scores of 3-0 and 6-1.

Wisconsin players of note: With a knack for showing up on the score sheet, Brianna Decker's name appeared on it both nights, punctuated by a hat trick on Saturday. With her five points on the weekend, she now has 50 points in the past 20 games. Both Brittany Ammerman and Blayre Turnbull recorded two-goal games over the weekend. Alex Rigsby made a total of 42 stops and picked up her first shutout of the season on Friday.

Ohio State at Minnesota State
This series was an even bigger defensive battle than the St. Cloud State-Robert Morris series. Only four goals were scored and nine penalties were called all weekend. It looked like the weekend was going to be another rough one for the Ohio State goaltending after an early MSU goal in the first period on Friday. However, Minnesota State's first goal of the weekend would also be their last, as OSU would go on to win 2-1 on Friday and 1-0 on Saturday. Both teams had great goaltending, but struggled offensively to get quality chances on net.

Minnesota State players of note: Lauren Smith opened the scoring for the Mavericks on their first power play on Friday for the lone MSU goal of the weekend. Alli Altmann had a great night in net making 28 saves, including 14 in the second period, in Friday's 2-1 loss. The following game saw the Mavericks opt for sophomore Danielle Butters in net and she rose to the occasion making 31 saves in the 1-0 loss on Saturday.  

Ohio State players of note: After letting in the early goal, sophomore goaltender Lisa Steffes kept the Mavericks scoreless for the remaining 116 minutes of the weekend, making 44 saves for the two wins. Ohio State needed the solid goaltending as its offense has been in bit of a slump lately. After scoring 19 goals in their first four games, the Buckeyes have only scored five goals in their last four. Hokey Langan, Laura McIntosh and Kelly Wild all had two points over the weekend, while Natalie Spooner was left without a single point after eight attempts on net.

No. 6 North Dakota at No. 7 Minnesota Duluth
After getting swept by the Badgers at home, the Bulldogs wanted to make sure they didn't start off the conference season with a 0-4-0 record. Coming off an 18-goal weekend, North Dakota was looking to keep their offense rolling. However, it was the Minnesota Duluth offense that would trump UND in the first game on Saturday. The first period was scoreless, but UMD would score three goals in the second, including a shorthander, and two more to start the third to take a 5-0 lead en route to a 6-1 win. The following game saw a closer defensive game as the two sides played to a 2-2 draw. UND needed an extra-attacker goal in the final minute to force the tie, though the Bulldogs would claim the shootout victory. In the history of WCHA shootouts, North Dakota has yet to win one.

Minnesota Duluth players of note: Katherine Wilson scored a hat trick on Saturday in the 6-1 victory and only tallied one assist in the 2-2 tie. Audrey Cournoyer helped on each of Wilson's goals on Saturday and recorded her own goal along with an additional assist on Sunday. Jenna McParland, Haley Irwin and Pernilla Winberg each had a goal on Saturday. Goaltender Jenny Harss made 56 of 59 saves on the weekend, including three stops in the shootout.

North Dakota players of note
: Only four players recorded points for UND all weekend. Monique Lamoureux-Kolls assisted on all three UND goals. Jocelyne Lamoureux scored the lone goal on Saturday and assisted on both in Sunday's game. Michelle Karvinen scored the tying goal with 17 seconds left in the third period on Sunday and Josefine Jakobsen scored the first goal in the same game. Stephanie Ney made a total of 58 saves on 66 shots over the weekend.

No. 2 Minnesota at Bemidji State
In the Minnesota Daily, head coach Brad Frost said that Bemidji State is "probably the hardest working team" in the conference. Bemidji State proved Frost right when they rebounded from a 4-1 loss on Friday and upset the No. 2 Golden Gophers on Saturday night by a score of 2-1. The Gophers took a total of 92 shots on goal over the weekend and only scored five times. In addition to those 92 shots on goal, the Gophers took another 46 shots that never found their way on net, being blocked by the BSU defense. Since moving into the Sanford Center in Bemidji, the Beavers have only been swept once on home ice. The lone sweep came at the hands of No. 1 Wisconsin last year and even then it took overtime in the finale for the Badgers to pull off the sweep. With the split against Minnesota, the Beavers own a 6-6-2 record against nationally-ranked teams at the Sanford Center.

Minnesota players of note: Jen Schoullis scored an empty netter on Friday to record a hat trick. Amanda Kessel assisted on all four goals and Megan Bozek assisted on three in Friday's, 4-1, win. Sarah Erickson had the remaining point from the win, scoring the Gophers third goal of the game. On Saturday, Emily West scored the lone goal in the 2-1 loss. Noora R├Ąty made 48 saves in the two games.

Bemidji State's players of note: Goaltender Zuzana Tomcikova made 87 saves on the weekend, including 18 in the third period of Saturday's, 2-1, win. She helped kill off three BSU penalties as the Gophers were scoreless on the power play for the weekend. Sadie Lundquist scored in both games, including the game-winner on Saturday. Emily Erickson assisted on both her goals. Freshman Rachael Kelly scored her fourth goal of the season to put the Beavers on the board first on Saturday.


Possible WCHA Player of the Week winners:
Unlike last week, the offensive player and rookie of the week will be a bit hard to predict. With 87 saves and an upset win against the Gophers, there's no question that Bemidji State's goaltender Zuzana Tomcikova deserves the honor for Defensive Player of the Week. If for some reason she wouldn't win, Alex Rigsby had the next best performance with two wins and a shutout against a top-5 team.

On offense, there were three hat tricks over the weekend, but only Katherine Wilson and Brianna Decker recorded points in both nights, while Decker had one more point and two wins. Audrey Cournoyer was the only player, other than Decker, to get five points on the weekend, but four of those points came from assists. BSU's Sadie Lunquist has a chance with a goal in each game against Minnesota, including the game-winner in Saturday's upset.

For rookies, no one recorded points in more than one game. UW's Blayre Turnbull had two goals and UMD's Jenna McParland had one goal and one assist. Both of those players recorded their points in 6-1 wins. Rachael Kelly scored a goal against Minnesota in Bemidji State's upset win.

Offensive Player of the Week (in order of likeliness)
Brianna Decker (UW) - 5 points (3G, 2A), hat trick, 11 shots, +3 plus/minus
Katherine Wilson (UMD) - 4 points (3G, 1A), hat trick, 10 shots, +3 plus/minus
Audrey Cournoyer (UMD) - 5 points (1G, 4A), 3 shots, +1 plus/minus
Sadie Lundquist (BSU) - 2 points (2G, 0A), 1 game-winning goal, 6 shots, -3 plus/minus

Defensive Player of the Week (in order of likeliness)
Zuzana Tomcikova (BSU) - 87 saves, 4 goals against, .946 save percentage, 1 win
Alex Rigsby (UW) - 42 saves, 1 goal against, .977 save percentage, 2 wins

Rookie of the Week (in order of likeliness)
Blayre Turnbull (UW) - 2 points (2G, 0A), 1 game-winning goal, 4 shots, +3 plus/minus
Jenna McParland (UMD) - 2 points (1G, 1A), 1 game-winning goal, 2 shots, +2 plus/minus
Rachael Kelly (BSU) - 1 point (1G, 0A), 5 shots, -1 plus/minus


Looking Forward

No. 7 North Dakota at St. Cloud State
The wide ice sheet at the National Hockey Center should play to the advantage of North Dakota's Jocelyne Lamoureux and Monique Lamoureux-Kolls. UND should leave St. Cloud, Minn., with two wins, but not without conceding a goal or two to the Huskies.

No. 4 Minnesota Duluth at No. 3 Minnesota
The Bulldogs are only 1-2-1-1 in their first four conference games and they'll be looking to improve that this weekend. The Gophers have shown that they can be shutdown, it's just up to the UMD defense and goaltender Jenny Harss to make it happen. In similar fashion to the Minnesota-Wisconsin matchup earlier this season, I think both games will be very close and after everything is said and done, the Bulldogs and Gophers will split the weekend.

No. 10 Bemidji State at Minnesota State
With their first-ever national ranking to their name, the Bemidji State Beavers hit the road to take on the Minnesota State Mavericks. I think Bemidji State has the edge on this one and should pull out a weekend sweep against the struggling MSU offense. However, if the Minnesota State goaltending plays like it did last weekend, the games could be a bit closer than BSU would like them to be.

No. 1 Wisconsin at Ohio State
After completing an arduous eight-game stretch the Badgers can claim a 7-1-0 record against some of the toughest competition in the nation. However, Wisconsin can't take time to relax as they travel to Ohio State this weekend and face a Buckeye team looking to return to its scoring ways. The problem with carrying the No. 1 title is that it tends to bring out the best performances in opponents. Even though the Buckeyes haven't scored many goals as they would have liked to recently, the forwards of Laura McIntosh, Natalie Spooner, Hokey Langan and Ally Tarr are always dangerous and can't be overlooked. The Badgers will need to continue playing solid on defense and should look to get a lot of shots on whoever is in net for the Buckeyes.