It was a busy weekend in the WCHA with eleven games -- mostly exhibition and non-conference -- and four series on the slate. From Minnesota to New York, here’s the lowdown on the results and the players to watch in your favorite collegiate hockey conference.
Series #1: Minnesota State at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (ECAC)
Minnesota State swept their series against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, shutting out RPI 4-0 and 3-0 on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The freshmen were out in full force, with Minnesota State rookies Charlotte Akervik and Kennedy Bobyck both notching goals on Friday. Meanwhile, junior Mariah Gardner had a whole slew of goals, scoring once on Friday and twice on Saturday to buoy Minnesota State to to non-conference wins. Despite the offensive opportunities, Minnesota State was on the defensive for much of the weekend, taking a total of nine penalties on the weekend. RPI was close behind with eight. With the inauspicious WCHA Preseason Coaches’ Poll in the back of their minds, Minnesota State went home happy this weekend with a pair of wins.
Series #2: St. Lawrence (ECAC) at #9 Ohio State
Was this series a nail-biter or what?! Ohio State took both games, with win number one coming significantly more handily than game number two -- but we’ll get to that in a second. Ohio State junior Liz Schepers was out for blood this weekend, totaling three points on Friday alone. Meanwhile, Saints forwards Brittney Gout and Maggie McLaughlin each notched a point per game for two points total on the weekend per player. While Ohio State took the first match-up easily by a score of 4-1, Game 2 was a different story. Down 2-1 for much of the second and third periods, two goals within eight seconds in the last two minutes of play put the Buckeyes past St. Lawrence for an ultimate sweep of the weekend. Buckeye fans at OSU Ice Rink sure were happy with that one.
Series #3: Colgate (ECAC) at #2 Minnesota
The weekend opened with a fairly conventional hockey game between Colgate and Minnesota, with the latter coasting to a relatively easy 2-0 victory. Freshman phenom and WCHA Preseason Rookie of the Year Madeline Wethington scored her first collegiate goal for Minnesota and capped off the weekend with an assist on Saturday. Sarah Potomak tallied four points on the weekend, while All-WCHA Preseason Team member Grace Zumwinkle potted two goals on Saturday to drive the Golden Gophers to an 8-1 win over Colgate. The lone Colgate goal was notched with three minutes to go in the final frame by sophomore forward Malia Schneider. All in all, Minnesota swept the series and definitely returned home to Minnesota a bunch of happy campers.
Series #4: #1 Wisconsin at Lindenwood (CHA)
This weekend was a big one for former Boston College Eagle Daryl Watts as she notched two points in Wisconsin’s 4-0 shutout of the Lindenwood Lions. Sophie Shirley looked to continue the success of her previous seasons, notching two goals and adding an assist Friday evening in the four goal rout. Saturday saw six different goal scorers for Wisconsin as they plowed through the Colgate defense to a final score of 6-2, putting 39 shots on goal to Colgate’s 12. The teams were matched for penalties on the weekend, with several Lions getting exceptionally physical in the second period of Friday’s match-up. For those Wisconsin fans looking for a repeat...you’re off to a good start.
Game #1: University of Regina at Bemidji State (Friday, Sept. 27)
Bemidji State was not to be outdone by its WCHA competitors this weekend and netted a thorough five goals over the visiting University of Regina Cougars. Junior defender Kara Werth led the way with two goals Friday night, and Alaska native Clair DeGeorge was close behind her with two assists. The upperclassmen dominated the weekend, with almost every goal and assist coming from a junior or senior player. The lone exception was sophomore forward Grayson Myers’ assist on Kara Werth’s first goal. A relatively clean game was played between the two teams, with a total of three penalties taken in total over the course of the exhibition: one by Bemidji State, and two by Regina. For a team likely discontented with their preseason ranking, the Beavers are off to an auspicious start.
Game #2: University of Regina at St. Cloud State (Saturday, Sept. 28)
The Cougars headed south to St. Cloud State on Saturday, where they were greeted once again by a merciless offense. The Huskies shutout Regina by a score of 3-0, with goals coming from junior Mckenna Wesloh and senior Hallie Theodosopoulos, as well as Czech import Klára Hymlárová. The game was significantly more physical than the Cougars’ last match-up with the WCHA, with a total of seven infractions committed between the two teams. In spite of an inauspicious Preseason Coaches’ Poll prediction, St. Cloud State took home the win this weekend against an opponent they were looking to beat.
Game #3: Minnesota Whitecaps (NWHL) at Minnesota Duluth (Saturday, Sept. 28)
The Minnesota Whitecaps trekked out to Duluth this weekend to take on the Bulldogs in their second exhibition game of the preseason. In a riveting Minnesota match-up, Allie Thunstrom scored two to draw Minnesota Duluth. Just as with the professional team, both of the Bulldogs’ goals came from the same scorer: senior and Winnipeg native, Ryleigh Houston. Nonetheless, it wasn’t enough for either team to pull ahead by the time sixty minutes of play were reached, and so the game ended in a tie. The defending Isobel Cup champions will certainly be much happier with Saturday’s result than they were with the crushing defeat they suffered at the hands of the Golden Gophers last weekend -- so all in all, a productive night for the Whitecaps and for the Bulldogs.
Players to Watch
Liz Schepers (F, Ohio State): Schepers put on a show for Ohio State fans and rivals alike with a dazzling three-point night on Friday. Though she didn’t score on Saturday, she shone on the first line between Emma Maltais and Tatum Skaggs, and this is surely just the start of an illustrious junior year for the Minnesota native.
Mariah Gardner (F, Minnesota State): Gardner came out strong for Minnesota State this weekend, single handedly dragging the Mavericks to a series sweep of RPI. With four points to her name after only the first series, Gardner is definitely one of our top players to watch as she roars into her junior season.
Daryl Watts (F, Wisconsin): Watts is a name you’ve probably heard if you’ve been paying attention to the NCAA at all the last two years, despite her rookie status in the WCHA. Nevertheless, Watts posted an impressive two goals and two assists on the season thus far, and is certainly not slacking even with the change of pace that comes with switching conferences.
All data courtesy of the WCHA.