Competing goalies take home WCHA honors

The two went head-to-head and still managed to earn conference awards.

Brian Deutsch

Earlier this week, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association released its weekly awards, and in a rather rare occasion both goalies from last weekend’s Gophers-Bulldogs series were honored.

Minnesota freshman netminder Alex Kangas won the Rookie of the Week award while Minnesota-Duluth sophomore goalie Alex Stalock took home the Defensive Player of the Week honor.

The two combined to stop 105 of the 110 shots put on goal over the weekend, which ended with the Gophers picking up three much-needed conference points.

Stalock saw more action than his counterpart – facing 65 shots on goal and losing for just the second time all season at the DECC in Duluth on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Kangas remains unbeaten on the road (2-0-3) this season after allowing just two goals all weekend.

“(Alex) gave up one goal each night, if he can continue to do that we’ll have a good chance to win,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. “We just don’t have a great margin for error on this team. It’s very difficult for this team to win if our goalie isn’t on top of his game.”

Kangas’ nod is the second time this season that a Minnesota rookie has earned the honor.

Forward Mike Hoeffel was the first after his performance against North Dakota in early December.

Wisconsin sophomore forward Michael Davies earned the Offensive Player of the Week award after turning in a three-point (two goals, one assist) weekend at Alaska Anchorage.

The Badgers matched Minnesota’s three points this weekend to create a three-way tie for fifth place in the WCHA along with the Gophers and St. Cloud State.

Wisconsin and Minnesota will meet this weekend at the Kohl Center.

“Probably at the end of the year we’ll look back and this could be, you know, here we go again saying it’s the biggest weekend of the year, Friday is the biggest game of the year,” Badgers coach Mike Eaves said. “But in fact, it truly is because of where we are in the standings and how tight things are.”

WCHA to play BSU

Starting in the 2010-2011 season, conference teams can add Bemidji State to their road schedules.

The WCHA announced last week that it has reached an agreement that will guarantee home games for the Beavers against conference teams.

“It is Bemidji State’s goal to play an annual 12-game, non-conference, schedule against members of the WCHA with an even split of home and road contests,” a statement from Bemidji State read. “However, no specific details regarding the scheduling agreement have been finalized at this time.”

One condition of the agreement is the opening of the Bemidji Regional Events Center which is still pending state and city funding.

However neither the WCHA nor Bemidji State’s releases mentioned the possibility of the Beavers joining the conference.

College Hockey America – Bemidji State’s current conference – will shrink to just four teams after this season when Wayne State disbands its men’s program, leaving the future of the CHA in question.

The WCHA could be a suitable home for the Beavers – the state’s four other Division I programs call that conference home.

The WCHA hasn’t admitted a new member since Minnesota State joined in 1996.