This Week in the WCHA: December 20, 1996

WCHA PREVIEW: Dec. 13-15, 1996

WCHA Preview: Dec. 20-21, 1996 by Jim Thies

Although most of the WCHA is off this weekend, Minnesota-Duluth stays in action, hosting ECAC member Harvard in a weekend series in Duluth, Minn. The rest of the teams take a break from play, but will be in action again soon, with several clubs involved in tournaments against strong competition. Those games are always fun for fans, because they can see how their favorite teams matchup against competition from Hockey East, the ECAC and the CCHA. Bragging rights are on the line.

But for now, back to this weekend’s games.

Alaska-Anchorage (5-7-2, 3-7-2 WCHA) at St. Cloud State (10-4-2, 8-4-2 WCHA) Friday-Saturday, 7:05 CT, National Hockey Center, St. Cloud, MN

St. Cloud State has a lot to gain from this series. For Alaska-Anchorage, it’s another chance to beat a top team and gain some respect.

Alaska-Anchorage did not play last weekend and hopes to improve on its 2-2-1 road record. David Vallieres (5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points) is 4-5–9 over his last five games and is a fine leader for a young UAA team. Goalie Doug Tesky (3-4-2, 3.39 GAA, .892 save percentage) has started the last seven games and has given the Seawolves the chance to win by making the big save. UAA must remain disciplined this weekend. They average just 7.58 penalty minutes a game, but they are ninth in the league in penalty killing (75.8 percent).

If St. Cloud State can win twice, the team jumps to second place, just one point behind leader North Dakota. The Huskies lost to Minnesota at home last Saturday, but came up with their first-ever win in Mariucci Arena on Sunday in a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory. Maybe Sunday’s win will propel them to better things this weekend at home where SCSU is 5-1-1 this year. Mark Parrish (10-7–17) is second in the league in goals and had the hat trick in Sunday’s win. He has had points in 11 of his last 13 games. If Dave Paradise (6-10–16) can get three points, he will reach 100 in his career. He enters the series 54-43–97.

ELMO Picks: SCSU gets two wins, 5-2, 4-1.

Harvard (5-5-2, 4-4-2 ECAC) at Minnesota-Duluth (9-8-1, 8-7-1 WCHA) Friday-Saturday, 7:05 CT, DECC, Duluth, MN

This should be an interesting matchup of two solid programs from two great leagues. Neither team will be able to slide through this series since both teams are capable of big games if the opponent falters.

Harvard is on a small unbeaten streak, going 3-0-1 in its last four games. Before that the Crimson were 2-5-1. One reason for the resurgence is more goal production. Harvard has scored three or more goals in each game during the run, while it scored three goals only once during the previous eight-game stretch. Another reason is the improved power play. The Crimson had a 2-for-57 stretch at one point of the season, but go to Duluth on a 5-for-13 streak. A key player for Harvard has been freshman goalie J. R. Prestifilippo, who posted a 3-0 shutout win over Union in his last outing.

Minnesota-Duluth lost twice to Denver last weekend, and wants to get back on the winning track. The Bulldogs are 8-0-1 in their last nine non-conference games and 6-6-0 at home this year. Mike Peluso (12-8–20) is fifth in scoring in the league and has at least one point in 13 of 15 league games he’s played. Ken Dzikowski has personal season highs in goals (8), assists (13) and points (21) this year already. He had his first career hat trick in the 6-3 loss to Denver.

ELMO Picks: UMD wins twice: 5-3, 4-3.

Next Week in the WCHA:

Thursday, Dec. 26 Northern Michigan at Saskatchewan

Friday, Dec. 27 Colorado College vs. Vermont Denver vs. Yale Michigan Tech vs. Michigan Minnesota vs. Boston College Wisconsin vs. New Hampshire Boston University at North Dakota Northern Michigan at York University or Regina Finland at Minnesota-Duluth (exh)

Saturday, Dec. 28 Colorado College vs. Wisconsin or New Hampshire Denver vs. Maine or Air Force Michigan Tech vs. Michigan State or Lake Superior State Minnesota vs. Miami or Clarkson Wisconsin vs. Colorado College or Vermont Boston University at North Dakota Northern Michigan vs. Regina or York

Sunday, Dec. 29 Northern Michigan at Saskatchewan

Monday, Dec. 30 Finland at Minnesota (exh)

Tuesday, Dec. 31 Colorado College at Michigan State Finland at Wisconsin (exh)

Jim Thies is the WCHA Correspondent for U.S. College Hockey Online.

Copyright 1996 Jim Thies. All Rights Reserved. Return to Feature Articles Return to News and Recaps Return to US College Hockey Online