UW Health Sports Medicine 

WCHA Women's Notebook (Nov. 9, 2011)

Welcome to this week's installment of the WCHA Women's notebook. Each week Ross LaDue from the UW Athletic Communications office will break down the past weekend of action in the women's side of the WCHA and preview the coming weekend.

Three of the four series this past weekend resulted in sweeps as North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin all claimed two wins. Bemidji State was upset in overtime against Minnesota State, but the Beavers salvaged the weekend split. A couple players were missing as Team Canada called-up its team in order to prepare for the Four Nations Cup taking place in Sweden this weekend. Because of the international tournament, seven of the eight teams in the WCHA will remain idle this weekend. The only item on the docket is Bemidji State playing one game against Lindenwood on Thursday.

Weekend Recap

No. 7 North Dakota at St. Cloud State
No surprises in this series as the Sioux skated to two fairly easy victories. I expected St. Cloud State to net a couple of goals and they did just that, they even had a 1-1 game going for the majority of the first period on Friday. After UND scored to take a 1-0 lead, the Huskies answered back within 21 seconds to tie the game up. Unfortunately for St. Cloud State they wouldn't get any closer than that for the rest of the weekend. UND would win by scores of 6-2 and 5-1.

North Dakota notes: The line of Monique Lamoureux-Kolls, Jocelyne Lamoureux and Michelle Karvinen had another great weekend together. They accounted for five of the six goals on Friday, but only one of five on Saturday. Monique Weber and Allison Parizek were the only other two UND players to record multiple point games on the weekend. A total of seven players in addition to Lamoureux-Kolls, Lamouruex and Karivine tallied points for UND on the weekend as the Sioux are starting to show some depth in their lines. Stephanie Ney played in net on Friday making 22 stops, while Jorid Dagfinrud made her second start of the season on Saturday and made 19 saves.

St. Cloud State notes: Abby Ness, Molli Mott and Brittany Toor combined for two goals on the weekend, with Mott scoring Saturday's lone goal and Ness scoring the second SCSU goal on Friday. Tayler VanDenakker played both games in net for the Huskies and made a total of 65 saves in the 120 minutes of action.

No. 3 Minnesota at No. 4 Minnesota Duluth
I expected a close series between the two teams and after Minnesota took the first game, Minnesota Duluth nearly forced a split on Saturday. UMD jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Friday, but three-straight Minnesota goals would doom the Bulldogs as the Gophers scored an empty netter just seven seconds after UMD opted for an extra attacker to clinch a 4-1 win. Saturday saw Minnesota jump out to a 1-0 lead within the first minute and that would hurt the Bulldogs. A late rally by UMD fell short and the Gophers finished the sweep by a score of 3-2.

Minnesota notes: Amanda Kessel and Jen Schoullis had strong weekends for the Gophers. Kessel assisted on both game-winning goals, while Schoullis scored three of the seven goals on the weekend. Minnesota received offensive support from the blue line on Friday as both Anne Schleper and Megan Bozek had two assists, while Bozek also scored a goal. Goaltender Noora Räty posted her third sweep over a WCHA team this season, making 42 saves on 45 shots for a .933 save percentage.

Minnesota Duluth notes: The Bulldogs top three scorers, Audrey Cournoyer, Katherine Wilson and Jessica Wong were held to a combined one point on the weekend as Wong tallied one assist. Senior Haley Irwin was not in attendance for the series as Team Canada called-up its players to prepare for the Four Nations Cup. Top newcomer Jenna McParland was also kept off the score sheet in both games. Jenny Harss had a solid weekend in net, but the Gophers proved to be too tough and her 66 saves weren't enough for a Bulldog win.

No. 10 Bemidji State at Minnesota State
I knew Minnesota State would play Bemidji State well, but I wasn't expecting anything less than a sweep for Bemidji State. In their first-ever game with a national ranking, the Beavers faltered and dropped a decision in overtime to the Mavericks. Minnesota State out-shot Bemidji State, 31-21, in the upset and scored with 17 seconds remaining in overtime to pick up their fifth win of the season. Rebounding on Saturday, Bemidji State shut out the Mavericks, but the scoring woes continued as the Beavers only managed a 1-0 win.

Bemidji State notes: The Beavers were missing one of their top forwards in Emily Erickson due to an injury. Even with that in mind, Bemidji State lacked any scoring from their other top goal producers in Sadie Lundquist and Montana Vichorek. Mackenzie Thurston was the only BSU player to record multiple points on the weekend. While the scoring may have struggled, goaltending was not a problem as Zuzana Tomcikova made 52 saves on the weekend with a .963 save percentage.

Minnesota State notes: Ariel Mackley scored the OT-goal, while Kari Lundberg scored the first goal of the game on Friday. Alli Altmann played in net on Friday and recorded 20 saves for her fourth win of the season. Danielle Butters played in goal on Saturday and made a season-high 31 saves in the 1-0 loss.

No. 1 Wisconsin at Ohio State
The Buckeyes always seem to play the Badgers well at the OSU Ice Rink and this past weekend was no exception. While the Badgers did walk away with the weekend sweep, it was no cake walk. A combination of a high-pressure forecheck and the small ice surface seemed to bottle-neck Wisconsin at times. After UW opened the scoring on Friday night, OSU responded to make it 1-1. However that would be the last goal for the Buckeyes all weekend as the Badgers netted four consecutive goals to close out the weekend with 3-1 and 2-0 scores. Ohio State out-shot Wisconsin on Saturday, behind a third period rush of 16 shots on goal, but the Badgers remained unfazed and picked up their second win while being out-shot this season.

Wisconsin notes: Alex Rigsby was the Badgers' best player over the weekend as she shut down the Ohio State power play, killing off all eight OSU man advantages. Rigsby made 55 saves on 56 shots to post the best goaltending stats in the conference over the weekend. Newcomers Blayre Turnbull and Karley Sylvester both recorded goals on Friday, while Hilary Knight tallied the game-winner. On Saturday, Brooke Ammerman scored both goals in the 2-0 win.

Ohio State notes: Kayla Sullivan scored the lone goal on the weekend with Taylor Kuehl and Danielle Gagne recording the assists. Lisa Steffes made her third consecutive start and made 29 saves in the 3-1 loss on Friday. Chelsea Knapp made her first appearance in between the pipes since the North Dakota series on Dec. 21-22. Knapp played well and recorded 24 saves.

Possible WCHA Player of the Week winners (in order of likeliness):
This week's potential Offensive Player of the Week may be a bit of a tossup. Both Amanda Kessel and Jocelyne Lamoureux had great weekends as Minnesota and North Dakota swept their WCHA opponents. Kessel's performance stands out a bit more as she tallied assists on both game-winning goals against Minnesota Duluth. Lamoureux put up one more point than Kessel, though it was against a weaker St. Cloud State team. Brooke Ammerman also had a decent weekend, with a hand in both game-winning goals against Ohio State.

For Defensive Player of the Week it's hard to look past Alex Rigsby's performance at Ohio State, a total of 55 stops on 56 shots in a sweep over the Buckeyes. Minnesota's goaltender Noora Räty did well in net for the Gophers against Minnesota Duluth, making 42 saves on 45 shots. North Dakota's Candace Molle assisted on a game-winner against St. Cloud State. Bemidji State's goaltender Zuzana Tomcikvoa had another great performance in net for the Beavers, but Bemidji State being unable to pull off the sweep will hurt her chances.

Rookie of the Week looks to be going back to UND's Michelle Karvinen who led the Sioux in scoring against the Huskies. In a five-point night, she netted the game-winner on Friday. Wisconsin's Blayre Turnbull scored a shorthanded goal against the Buckeyes as the Badgers swept in Ohio. None of the newcomers at Minnesota put up any numbers this weekend. UMD's Brigette Lacquette had two points, but being swept by the Gophers may hurt her chances.

Offensive Player of the Week
Amanda Kessel (UM) - 5 points (1G, 4A), 2 game-winning assists vs UMD, 10 shots, +4 plus/minus
Jocelyne Lamoureux (UND) - 6 points (2G, 4A), two wins vs SCSU, seven shots, +4 plus/minus
Brooke Ammerman (UW) - 3 points  (2G, 1A), 1 game-winning goal and assist vs OSU, 8 shots, +2 plus/minus

Defensive Player of the Week
Alex Rigsby (UW) - 55 saves, 1 goal against, .982 save percentage, 2 wins vs OSU, 1 shutout
Noora Räty (UM) - 42 saves, 3 goals against, .933 save percentage, 2 wins vs UMD
Candace Molle (UND) - 2 points (1G, 1A), 1 game-winning assist, 2 wins vs SCSU, 4 shots, +3 plus/minus
Zuzana Tomcikova (BSU) - 52 saves, 2 goals against, .963 save percentage, 1 win vs MSU, 1 shutout

Rookie of the Week
Michelle Karvinen (UND) - 6 points (2G, 4A), 1 game-winning goal, 2 wins vs SCSU, 7 shots, +4 plus/minus
Blayre Turnbull (UW) - 1 point (1G, 0A), 1 short-handed goal, 2 wins vs OSU, 2 shots, +1 plus/minus
Brigette Lacquette (UMD) - 2 points (1G, 1A), 4 shots, even plus/minus

Looking Forward

Lindenwood vs Bemidji State (at Eveleth, Minn., Nov. 10)
This will be a single-game match up instead of a normal two-game series and it will be played in Eveleth, Minn., at the Hippodrome. Even with this game being away from the comfy confines of the Sanford Center, the Beavers should skate to an easy victory. Excluding a close 4-3 loss to Minnesota State, Lindenwood has lost to DI opponents this season by a combined score of 85-9. The struggling team from St. Charles, Mo., will surely get better, but I don't see them beating any of their DI opponents this season.

Minnesota State at No. 7 North Dakota (Nov. 18-19)
The Sioux finally return to Ralph Engelstad Arena after almost a month without a home game. North Dakota has put up some blistering numbers on the scoreboard while at home and the series against Minnesota State may be another opportunity for the Sioux to keep on lighting lamp. The Minnesota State goaltending corps is playing well now, but it may be a different story in two weeks. North Dakota should come away with both wins.

Bemidji State at No. 6 Minnesota Duluth (Nov. 19-20)
The Bulldogs are 1-4-1-1 to start off conference action, and I'm not entirely sure, but this could be one of their worst starts in the WCHA. It's not a reflection of the quality of the UMD squad by any means, as the four losses have come against Wisconsin and Minnesota. However, returning home and gaining Haley Irwin back from the Four Nations Cup, Minnesota Duluth will be a very difficult team to beat. If Bemidji State has forward Emily Erickson back from her injury and if the Beavers can play a full 60 minutes of hockey, then they may be able to pull out a win. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see Minnesota Duluth improve to 3-4-1-1 with these games being in Duluth, Minn.

Ohio State at Syracuse (Nov. 18-19)
Syracuse had a great season last year, losing to CHA powerhouse Mercyhurst by one goal in the CHA tournament championship game. However, Syracuse looks a lot weaker this year. Ohio State will have forward Natalie Spooner back and the Buckeyes will be looking to reheat their cold offense they've had lately. The Buckeyes should sweep this series and potentially in high scoring fashion.

St. Cloud State at Niagara (Nov. 18-19)
If these games were in St. Cloud, Minn., I would call for a Husky sweep. However, having to travel all the way to upstate New York may hinder St. Cloud State. This is the last nonconference series for the Huskies and it may be the last chance for them to get a sweep. With this in mind, the games should be fairly close, one or two-goal games. I think the Huskies win at least one, and if they stay focused, they can win both.

New Hampshire at No. 3 Minnesota (Nov. 18-19)
This will be a weekend sweep for the Gophers at home. There's a good possibility that Noora Räty and the Minnesota defense will not allow a single goal on the weekend.

No. 1 Wisconsin at Rensselaer (Nov. 18-19)
The series will serve as the third and fourth meetings between the two teams and the first visit for Wisconsin to Rensselaer. The Badgers will have Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker and Stefanie McKeough back from Four Nations. The Engineers have been struggling this year and for the Badgers to win all they need to do is to continue to play their style of hockey. The biggest challenge for Wisconsin will be staying away from complacency as it heads into the weekend series and not look past RPI.