It was a weekend chalk full of upsets, comebacks, shutouts, ejections, and redemptions in the WCHA. Here’s just a hat trick’s worth of “knowledge” we gleaned from Friday and Saturday’s tilts.
1. Huskies go from pretender to contender.
Michigan Tech stunned No. 2 Denver, Friday, and most people who looked at Friday’s WCHA scores.
The Huskies are 5-2-1 overall and 4-2-0 in the WCHA after their best October in years. Tech has a good chance to add more wins and points when it hosts banged-up and last-place Minnesota State this weekend, then goes out west to Alaska-Anchorage (losers of four straight) and out east to winless St. Lawrence.
The power play is a big reason for Tech’s success so far, scoring at a 24.2-percent success rate, 11th-best in the nation. Much of how long the Huskies can keep it up relies on the continued success of the PP.
2. When you put pucks on the net, good things happen . . . in theory that is.
Despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead over Minnesota-Duluth just 7:26 into the first period on Friday night, the Bemidji State Beavers were held scoreless by the Bulldogs for the remaining 112:34 of the series. UMD goaltender Kenny Reiter shut down the Beavers both nights including Saturday’s 1-0 thriller when Jack Connolly scored midway through the third to provide the difference.
Alaska-Anchorage got off to a hot start scoring 17 goals in four games to begin 3-0-1. But the Seawolves have lost four in a row to Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota to open the conference schedule having scored a total of three goals in the process. Not surprisingly, UAA’s 0.75 per WCHA game ranks last in the conference and its 20 goals through eight games overall leads only idle Minnesota State (nine goals in six games).
But the Seawolves are the only team with less goals through four conference games than North Dakota. While it’s true the Sioux has managed a slightly more respectable 10 goal total, the significance lies in the remarkable degree of difficulty in achieving that mark. What’s concerning is that it has taken UND 139 shots on goal just to reach double digits. Which leads us to . . .
3. St Cloud State’s goaltending deeper than originally thought.
St. Cloud State goaltender Mike Lee was injured last Monday in practice and didn’t make the trip to Grand Forks this weekend. North Dakota, likely sensing blood, put 44 shots on freshman backup goalie Ryan Faragher on Friday.
Not one got past him.
Huskies coach Bob Motzko told the St. Cloud Times Lee will be “for sure, out a couple weeks” so Faragher is thrown in the spotlight. Joe Philipi and Nate Hardy each sat one game on the bench as the No. 3 goalie Oct. 14-15 in home games against New Hampshire but Philipi backed up Faragher against the Sioux.
Faragher made his debut Oct. 15 at Northern Michigan, a loss in which he allowed three goals on 23 shots. He allowed three goals on 26 shots Saturday against UND. Not the best numbers in those losses, but Friday’s 44-save shutout was enough for Faragher to prove he is ready.