This Week in the WCHA: October 25, 1996

The second weekend of WCHA play is here, and if there’s as much excitement as last week, fans are in for some memorable moments at the rink.

Last weekend North Dakota topped Denver twice at their home rink, serving notice of their talent. Colorado College and Minnesota split, as expected; Minnesota dominated play at times in Friday’s game, and even though the Gophers outshot CC on Saturday, the Tigers played better team defense and got the win. UM-Duluth made the trip to Alaska-Anchorage and swept the Seawolves. Wisconsin got a shutout in the first game against visiting St. Cloud and the Huskies came back for a close win in the second game.

This week Colorado College heads for Northern Michigan, Wisconsin is at Denver, North Dakota travels to Michigan Tech and Minnesota goes to in-state rival Minnesota-Duluth. In a non-conference series St. Lawrence visits St. Cloud State.

Here’s a look at this weekend’s games…

North Dakota (2-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) at Michigan Tech (4-1-0, 1-1-0 WCHA) Friday, 7:35 p.m., Saturday, 7:05 p.m., John MacInnes Student Ice Arena, Houghton, MI

This is the top game of the week, with both teams off to fast starts.

The Huskies get back to conference battle after sweeping Mankato State last weekend. For the first time since 1984-85, the Huskies have won four of their first five games, with goalie David Weninger recording his first career shutout in the 3-0 win on Saturday. Coach Tim Watters knows the weekend series will be a battle, as the WCHA is competitive this season, and North Dakota is a very good hockey club coming in. They must be very disciplined and must play sound hockey at both ends of the ice.

Dave Hoogsteen had three goals and three assists and was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week. He’s only 5-7, but had 10 goals and 10 assists last year, so he’s off to a great start. Jason Blake, centering Hoogsteen’s line, also had a great weekend. Defensively North Dakota held DU to just 22 shots on Friday and 20 on Saturday. And goalie Toby Kvalevog was there when his mates needed big saves.

The Fighting Sioux will have to play some solid hockey at a tough place to play. Tech is always tough on their rink because they are a physical team. Their veteran players are off to a good start and they have good goaltending. "Our keys are to continue to do what we did last weekend; get contributions from everyone," Sandelin said.

ELMO Picks: MTU 4, UND 1 on Friday; UND 5, MTU 4 on Saturday.

Colorado College (1-1-0, 1-1-0 WCHA) at Northern Michigan (1-2-1, 1-1-0 WCHA) Friday-Saturday, 7:05 p.m., Lakeview Arena, Marquette, MI

Colorado College invades Northern Michigan as both teams look to get above the .500 mark in WCHA play.

Colorado College got what they needed last weekend at Minnesota — a split. But this weekend the Tigers are looking for more. With some injured players (Chad Hartnell, Dan Peters, Lee Groom, T. J. Tanberg) out of the lineup, the entire squad must work together to get the job done. The Tigers were outshot in Saturday’s 2-1 win, but those shots came from far out. Coach Don Lucia liked the way his team played defense on Saturday and wants to continue this weekend.

NMU, a young team, has a chance to beat CC, something they haven’t done in the last eight meetings. Bud Smith will have to keep up his fine play; in last week’s 4-4 tie with LSSU he had two goals and an assist. The Wildcats must play solid hockey to win, and to keep its confidence high, which is a must for any young team. A strong effort against CC will do just that.

ELMO Picks: CC 4, NMU 1 on Friday; CC 3, NMU 1 on Saturday.

Wisconsin (1-1-0, 1-1-0 WCHA) at Denver (0-2-0, 0-2-0 WCHA) Friday-Saturday, 7:05 p.m., Denver University Arena, Denver, CO

Both Wisconsin and Denver surprised the scribes last week — Denver by getting swept at North Dakota and Wisconsin with a split with St. Cloud. These are two teams which need to find direction this weekend.

Badger goalie Kirk Daubenspeck pitched a 2-0 shutout against St. Cloud Friday and has a .952 save percentage entering this weekend. He will play a key role in these games, since Denver will try to put a full-blown offensive blitz on him. The Badger freshmen had a great weekend against St. Cloud, collectively accounting for a goal and four assists among the team;s four goals and five assists. Dustin Kuk (0-2–2), Steve Reinprecht (1-0–1), T.R. Moreau (0-1-1) and Niki Siren (0-1–1) all tallied their first points in their first series as Badgers. Coach Jeff Sauer needs two wins to tie Bob Johnson’s school record.

The Pioneers should play like a possessed team this weekend after dropping two games. Coach George Gwozdecky will need to jumpstart his squad because the Badgers will be ready to play, and early in the season the Pioneers have plenty of time to get back on the winning track. Antti Laaksonen had a goal and assist on Friday and Anders Bjork finished the weekend with the same. Now it’s time for the rest of the team to step up.

ELMO Picks: DU 4, UW 2 on Friday; DU 4, UW 3 on Saturday.

Minnesota (1-1-0, 1-1-0 WCHA) at Minnesota-Duluth (3-1-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) Friday-Saturday, 7:05 p.m., Duluth Entertainment & Convention Center, Duluth, MN

Minnesota Coach Doug Woog (suspended for a violation of NCAA rules) won’t be behind the bench, but that doesn’t take any excitement from this in-state rivalry. This series is always hotly anticipated by fans of both teams.

UMD made its trek to Alaska last weekend and survived to sweep Anchorage. However, that trip often takes a lot out of a team, and the Gophers hope to take advantage. But the Bulldogs are at home, which will help; Mike Peluso (4-1–5) and Curtis Doell (1-4–5) lead the team. Sergei Petrov and Max Wikman have a goal and three assists each. Goalie Brant Nicklin is undefeated in three games and has a 0.67 (how small?) goals against average and a .971 (wow!) save percentage.

With their off-ice problems the Gophers have had this week, there is always the chance that they’ll be unprepared — but don’t count on it. This is a series with the Bulldogs, after all. Erik Rasmussen has played everything like a first-round draft choice so far, with two goals and an assist against CC. Goalie Steve DeBus has a 2.00 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. If the Gophers keep focused, they should be in control of the series.

ELMO Picks: UM 4, UMD 2 on Friday; UM 5, UMD 2 on Saturday.

St. Lawrence (0-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) at St. Cloud State (1-2-0, 1-1-0 WCHA) Friday-Saturday, 7:05 p.m., National Hockey Center, St. Cloud, MN

St. Cloud State will try to improve in a non-conference series with St. Lawrence, which is opening its season.

The Huskies split at Wisconsin, getting shut out in the first game but coming back with a solid effort Saturday, when SCSU got two goals and an assist from Sacha Molin and goaltender Tim Lideen turned away 30 shots to record his second win.

This is St. Lawrence’s opening weekend, a season after finishing with a 20-12-3 record which earned them a fourth-place finish in the preseason ECAC coaches poll. Last year the Saints were third with a 15-4-3 record. Top returning players include Paul DiFrancesco (16-39–55) and Derek Ladouceur (7-33–40). Jon Bracco (11-3-0, 3.62 GAA, .884 SV%) will be the main man in goal, and he can come up with big saves. The Saints are solid in all three areas of the game and are hungry for the season to start.

ELMO Picks: SCSU 3, SLU 2 on Friday; SLU 4, SCSU 1 on Saturday.

Next Week in the WCHA Friday-Saturday, Nov. 1-2 Michigan Tech at Alaska-Anchorage St. Cloud State at Colorado College Minnesota at Wisconsin Northern Michigan at North Dakota Denver at Clarkson

Copyright 1996 Jim Thies . All Rights Reserved.

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