Tough WCHA action for this weekend

Sarah Mitchell

While Minnesota resumes WCHA action at Alaska-Anchorage this weekend, the guns will really be blazing elsewhere. Four of the league’s top teams will be engaged in battles against each other this weekend.
Third-place Colorado College hosts conference-leading Wisconsin; second-place North Dakota heads to fourth-place Minnesota-Duluth.
“I didn’t even know that,” said Alaska-Ancorage coach Dean Talafous. “Every game’s important because you don’t play that many. It can be a short season if you don’t win them and getting back into the league can be tough.”
Talafous’ weekend against Minnesota may be just as important.
Alaska is tied for fifth in the league with Minnesota State. Minnesota is right on its heels, however, trailing just one point behind.
“I would assume we’re approaching this weekend like Minnesota is,” Talafous said. “It’s very important.”
Nothing to be thankful for
Some holiday. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, WCHA teams compiled a 3-7-0 record in nonconference play.
Minnesota and Wisconsin each won a game in the College Hockey Showcase — the Gophers beat Michigan 6-1 on Friday and the Badgers defeated Michigan State 5-1 on the same night. Also contributing to the win column was North Dakota with its shutout against Vermont. The Sioux won 8-0 on Saturday in the opener of the New Hampshire Classic.

The Norwegians are coming
The WCHA plays host to Norway’s Valerenga Ishockey AS team in mid-December. Wisconsin and Minnesota are scheduled to compete against the international squad.
The Badgers face off against Valerenga first, playing at the Kohl Center on Dec. 14. Valerenga travels to Mariucci the following night to play the Gophers.
Trio of awards
St. Cloud State wingers Brandon Sampair and Chris Purslow and Michigan Tech goaltender Jason Moilanen were honored by the WCHA this week.
Sampair was named offensive player of the week while his teammate Purslow was awarded rookie of the week. In their team’s road sweep over Mankato last weekend, Sampair scored six points in three goals and three assists while Purslow had five points in four goals and one assist.
Moilanen recorded his first collegiate shutout in Michigan Tech’s conference split at Duluth. The goalie also allowed just one even-strength goal over the weekend.

Sarah Mitchell covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]