WCHA Weekend Notes and Recap

By Erik Freeman
More WCHA action took place this past weekend. The Minnesota Gophers
continued their winning ways in a sweep of Minnesota-Duluth. Michigan Tech
pulled off one of the biggest upsets in this early season by beating
defending national champions, North Dakota in Grand Forks 5-4. The Sioux
came back to win 5-2 to split the series. Wisconsin swept Minnesota
State-Mankato in two one goal games. In non-conference action Denver played
Boston College tough but couldn’t come away with a victory as they fell 3-2
in both games. St. Cloud State defeated Bemidji State 3-1 and 7-0 in a home
and home series. Alaska-Anchorage swept in state rival Alaska Fairbanks.

Minnesota wasn’t able to put the Bulldogs away on Friday night as freshman
goaltender Adam Coole played a stellar game in his debut. However, Saturday
was a different night. The Gophers dominated the play in every aspect.
Erik Westrum continues to look like one of the best players in the country
and an early season Hobey Baker candidate. The one question mark involved
with Westrum and the Hobey Baker is his dirty play. Many will remember last
season’s kicking incident as a negative but this kid can play.

Michigan Tech, are they better than last year’s dismal campaign? We’ll wait
and see, but from the looks of it they seem much improved. Maybe they can
continue to build and hope for the best as they will need to add more skill
players if they want to get to the level of North Dakota on a consistent
basis. If Paul Cabana and Matt Ulwelling can continue scoring at a clip of
one point a game Tech could be in a lot more games this season.

Wisconsin didn’t dominate in beating Minnesota State-Mankato, but the bottom
line is they got the sweep and are in first place in the WCHA. Dany Heatley
lead the Badgers with four points on the weekend. The Badgers didn’t start
out well in both games falling behind 2-0, but have shown that they can come
back. Wisconsin may not be as dominant as last year but anything but a top
3 finish in Badgerland will be counted on as a big disappointment.

In Denver things didn’t look so bright this year when Mark Rycroft, one of
the better offensive threats in the league signed with St. Louis, but Denver
has come out of the gate with an exhibition win and a strong showing against
of the top teams in the nation. Things will come into better perspective
this coming weekend as the Pioneers travel to face St. Cloud State in WCHA
action.

With one of the most talked about group of forwards in the league things
weren’t going so well in St. Cloud. Against Ferris State the Huskies
didn’t dominant in they way they should have. In Friday’s game against
Bemidji the offense didn’t look dominant either. Winning 3-1 was no
indication if this team really has what it takes. Saturday back at the NHC,
St. Cloud State put a full 60 minutes together and they showed what they are
capable of doing. One of the unsung players on the Huskies and in the
league has to be Joey Motzko. This kid is one of the hardest workers out
there and has amazing speed. Jeff Finger looks to be the best freshman
defenseman in the league. Finger has been the Huskies most productive
defenseman as well as a physical force.

Players of the Week
Tyler Arnason-St. Cloud State
Erik Westrum-Minnesota