2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: St. Cloud State Huskies

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Eric Rud (2nd Season)
2015-16 Captains: Vanessa Spataro (C), Lauren Hespenheide (A), Molly Illikainen (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 8-28-1 (5-22-1-1 WCHA/7th place)
WCHA Postseason: Conference quarterfinals; swept by Wisconsin in first round of WCHA playoffs

It was a tough season for St. Cloud State, who finished second-to-last in their league, but it was also the first year under head coach Eric Rud for the program so it was a bit of a transition season well. The Huskies dropped their first two games, hosted by the University of Minnesota, to Boston University and Penn State, but earned a split against another nonconference foe in Lindenwood the following weekend. They then enjoyed an undefeated weekend against Minnesota State, beating the Mavericks and then tying them to pick up a few WCHA points.

They followed that up with an upset win over Ohio State in the next week’s series, earning a split with the Buckeyes, and then swept Rensselaer in nonconference play. It was a tough go for St. Cloud State for the rest of the 2014 calendar year, however; their next 11 games were against Minnesota Duluth, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Bemidji State, and they lost 10 in a row there before knocking off the Beavers, 3-0, on Dec. 13.

2015 wasn’t much better for the Huskies, who were then swept by Ohio State, UMD, Minnesota, Bemidji State, and UND before finally picking up another win against the Mavericks on Feb. 16. Later that week, they secured their biggest win of the year, knocking off Wisconsin, 2-1, on the road. The Badgers salvaged a 5-0 win the next day, however, and then swept St. Cloud State in the WCHA quarterfinals with a 5-1 win and a 4-1 win.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Minnesota Gophers

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Brad Frost (9th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Hannah Brandt (C), Lee Stecklein (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 34-3-4 (22-2-4-2 WCHA/1st place)
WCHA Postseason: Conference semifinals; advanced to WCHA Final Face-Off with sweep over Minnesota State in the quarterfinals, lost to Bemidji State in the semifinals
NCAA Tournament: Advanced to Frozen Four with win vs. RIT in the quarterfinals, defeated Wisconsin in national semifinals, defeated Harvard to win 2015 national championship

The Gophers hung yet another banner after the 2014-15 season, and did so in pretty dominant fashion, posting their fourth-straight 30-win season. They started off the season playing host to Penn State and Boston University on opening weekend, and beat both of those teams handily. They then headed to Duluth for a series against the Bulldogs and though they came away with the win in game one, Minnesota Duluth earned the win in the shootout in game two. That set up a big road series with Wisconsin, and Minnesota kept up its winning ways against the Badgers, sweeping that weekend. The team returned home and earned another conference sweep against North Dakota the week after.

Over Halloween weekend, Minnesota welcomed Bemidji State to town, and that series did not go in the Gophers’ favor, as the Beavers took five out of six points from them. Minnesota responded well, however, going on a 12-game winning streak and a 19-game unbeaten streak. Their two ties over that stretch came against Wisconsin and Ohio State, but otherwise the Gophers most notably swept the Buckeyes, as well as Princeton and St. Lawrence in non-conference action, and earned another win over the Badgers.

Both of those streaks came to an end on Feb. 6, when Minnesota was shut out by North Dakota on the road, but they won out the rest of the regular season. They salvaged a split the next night against UND and then swept Minnesota Duluth and Bemidji State to head into the postseason on a five-game winning streak. After sweeping Minnesota State in the first round of the WCHA playoffs, the Gophers were upset by the Beavers in their WCHA Final Face-Off semifinal game.

They began NCAA Tournament play with a quarterfinal game against RIT and won that decisively, 6-2. They then met the Badgers for the fifth time this season in the Frozen Four semifinals, which they hosted, and skated away with a 3-1 victory to advance to the national championship game vs. Harvard. With a 4-1 win over the Crimson, Minnesota made its return to the top and captured its third national championship in four years.

Hannah Brandt earned Top-3 Patty Kazmaier Award Finalist recognition and along with Rachel Ramsey, received First Team All-America distinction. Dani Cameranesi and Lee Stecklein were named Second Team All-Americans. Brandt was also honored as the WCHA’s Player of the Year and Scoring Champion, and Ramsey, Stecklein, and Cameranesi joined her on the All-WCHA First Team. Ramsey was named the WCHA’s Defensive Player of the Year, and Milica McMillen earned a spot on the conference’s Second Team while Rachael Bona took home All-WCHA Third Team honors. Kelly Pannek and Sydney Baldwin were both named to the league’s All-Rookie Team.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: University of North Dakota

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Brian Idalski (9th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Halli Krzyzaniak (C), Tanja Eisenschmid (A), Becca Kohler (A), Layla Marvin (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 22-12-3 (16-9-3-2 WCHA/3rd place)
WCHA Postseason: Conference semifinals; advanced to semifinals with quarterfinal series win vs. Ohio State, eliminated by Wisconsin in semifinal game

UND had hopes last year of staying within the conference’s top-three teams, competing for the WCHA postseason title, and making its way back to the NCAA Tournament, but those plans were slowed up at first by a bumpy start. The team opened the season with a 7-1 win over Rensselaer, but was upset the next night at home by Vermont, dropping that non-conference match-up, 3-1. UND began WCHA competition next, and picked up three straights wins from a sweep over Minnesota State and an overtime victory against Minnesota Duluth. They settled for the split with the Bulldogs, getting shut out the next day, and were then swept by Minnesota on the road, losing the second game in convincing fashion.

Those three losses were the beginning of an 0-6-2 stretch of play that did not end until a 4-3 win against Ohio State on Nov. 22. The two ties came against the Buckeyes and Wisconsin, and North Dakota was also swept on the road by Bemidji State during those eight games. Things looked to be turning around after a sweep of the St. Cloud State Huskies, but UND was then swept itself by Wisconsin on the road over the first weekend of December. They headed into the winter break coming off of two wins against RIT in non-conference action.

Their efforts to build off of that were halted when North Dakota suffered a loss in a crucial non-conference game against Syracuse and could only come away with the split against the Orange in early January. That was the first of just two losses to come for the rest of regular season for UND, however, as the turnaround that the team had been waiting for finally came to light. North Dakota tied with Minnesota and Boston College for the best record in the country over the remainder of the regular season, at 10-1-1. UND picked up sweeps against Ohio State and Bemidji State before taking five of six points from Minnesota Duluth on the road. They then returned home to face Minnesota, and earned their biggest victory of the season to that point with a 3-0 shutout win against the Gophers.

(Tyler Ingham/UNDSports.com)
(Tyler Ingham/UNDSports.com)

Minnesota came back and notched the win the following day, but UND closed out the regular season with sweeps over St. Cloud State and Minnesota State. Securing the third seed in the WCHA playoffs, they drew Ohio State in the first round and swept the Buckeyes. A three-overtime contest in game two practically turned it into a three-game series anyways, but Amy Menke buried the overtime winner to punch North Dakota’s ticket to the Final Face-Off, which they hosted the following weekend. Despite the team’s second-half turnaround, UND could not keep its season going, falling to Wisconsin in the semifinal game, 4-1.

Goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie played a big role in North Dakota’s run at the end of the year, and her play garnered her Second Team All-America honors as well as Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top-10 Finalist honors. She was also named the WCHA’s Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year, the WCHA’s Goaltending Champion, a First Team Academic All-American, and earned spots on the All-WCHA First Team and All-USCHO First Team. Forward Becca Kohler and defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak also collected all-conference honors, as both were selected to the All-WCHA Third Team.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Preview: Wisconsin Badgers

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Mark Johnson (14th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Courtney Burke (C), Sydney McKibbon (A), Jenny Ryan (A)

2014-15 Recap

Record: 29-7-4 (19-6-3-1 WCHA/2nd place)
WCHA Postseason: WCHA Final Face-Off Champions; advanced to Final Face-Off with quarterfinal series win vs. St. Cloud State, defeated North Dakota in semifinals, and defeated Bemidji State in championship game
NCAA Tournament: Advanced to Frozen Four with win vs. Boston University, lost to Minnesota in semifinals

The 2014-15 season saw Wisconsin claim a postseason trophy for the first time since 2011, as the Badgers were crowned WCHA postseason champions at the Final Face-Off in Grand Forks, N.D. They started off the season with six wins, sweeping Lindenwood, Minnesota Duluth, and Ohio State, before dropping two to Minnesota at home. They responded by remaining unbeaten until the next time they faced the Gophers, going the next 12 games with an 11-0-1 record. Over that stretch, Wisconsin also posted a shutout streak of 388 minutes, 56 seconds, starting with an 8-2 win vs. Minnesota State on Nov. 13, and ending in a 2-1 overtime win vs. North Dakota on Dec. 5.

Wisconsin opened up the 2015 calendar year with a road series against Minnesota, and though they couldn’t beat the Gophers, they earned a 1-1 tie and a point from the shootout loss in the second game. They then welcomed Bemidji State to Madison and settled for a split against the upstart Beavers. The Badgers earned a sweep in one of their last five series of the regular season, against Minnesota State; in the other four, they played to ties against Clarkson and Minnesota Duluth, and then lost back-to-back to Ohio State and St. Cloud State.

Those last two losses didn’t seem to phase Wisconsin as the team began postseason play. In the WCHA quarterfinals, they had little trouble with SCSU, defeating the Huskies 5-1 and 4-1 to advance to the Final Face-Off. In their semifinal match-up against North Dakota, the Badgers defeated the hosts, 4-1, to move on to a championship match-up against Bemidji State. Wisconsin won the championship game decisively, 4-0, and a four-goal, five-point weekend from Sarah Nurse earned her MVP honors.

The Badgers were the third seed in the NCAA Tournament, and they welcomed Boston University for the NCAA quarterfinal game. Wisconsin advanced to the Frozen Four after a 5-1 win over the Terriers, with freshman Annie Pankowski leading the way just as she’d done all year with a two-goal performance. At the Frozen Four in Minneapolis, Minn., the Badgers’ year was ended by the Gophers in the national semifinals for the second straight season, as they fell, 3-1.

Individually, Pankowski was recognized as both the WCHA Rookie of the Year and the National Rookie of the Year, and senior Blayre Turnbull earned a spot on the All-WCHA First Team. Senior Brittany Ammerman was selected to the conference’s Second Team with Pankowski, while senior Karley Sylvester, junior Courtney Burke, and sophomore Ann-Renée Desbiens collected All-WCHA Third Team honors. Sophomore Jenny Ryan won the NCAA Elite 89 Award, which is given to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA at the NCAA championship site for each of the NCAA’s 89 championships.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Maura Crowell (1st Season)
2015-16 Captains: Ashleigh Brykaliuk (C), Sidney Morin (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 20-12-5 (14-10-4-2 WCHA/4th place)
WCHA Postseason: Conference quarterfinals; eliminated by Bemidji State in the first round of the WCHA playoffs

The Bulldogs started off a bit slow in 2014-15, going 1-4-2 in their first six match-ups, which included two losses to Wisconsin, one each to Minnesota and North Dakota, and a tie against Connecticut. They did work a tie against the Gophers, though, and a win over North Dakota on Oct. 18 sparked a nine-game win streak for the team. The Bulldogs earned sweeps over Minnesota State and St. Cloud State, as well as non-conference opponents Lindenwood and Cornell, before falling to Bemidji State on Nov. 28. Minnesota Duluth salvaged the split though, and took five of six points from Ohio State on the road to close out the 2014 portion of the season.

Another split with the Beavers started off 2015, and the Bulldogs then earned season sweeps over St. Cloud State and Minnesota State in the next couple of weeks after that. In their next three series, however, they managed just a point each against North Dakota and Wisconsin and were swept by the Gophers on the road. UMD headed into the postseason coming off of a sweep of the Buckeyes, and they drew Bemidji State in the first round. After a hard-fought three-game quarterfinal series, it was the Beavers who tallied the winner in overtime in the decisive game three, ending the Bulldogs’ season.

It would be remiss if we didn’t touch on some of the biggest off-ice news to happen across women’s hockey last year, mostly because of how much it has impacted Minnesota Duluth’s program, both present and future. It was announced midseason that head coach Shannon Miller, who steered the Bulldogs to five national titles during her tenure, would not have her contract renewed at the end of the year, and neither would her staff. There was much to be made about UMD administration looking for a cheaper option due to financial struggles, and, on the hockey side of things, Miller’s relative lack of success in recent years. Miller accused the school of Title IX discrimination, the school denied it, and with all of that ongoing tension, the season eventually came to a close and a new head coach was hired. Maura Crowell, who was an assistant at Harvard and took over as head coach for the Crimson during the 2013-14 season due to Katey Stone’s U.S. Olympic Team commitment, was brought in, as were assistants Laura Bellamy and Samantha Reber, both Harvard products as well.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Minnesota State Mavericks

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: John Harrington (1st Season)
2015-16 Captains: Unannounced

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 3-32-1 (1-26-1-0 WCHA/8th place)
WCHA Postseason: Conference quarterfinals; swept by Minnesota in the first round of the WCHA playoffs

Unfortunately, there were few highlights for the Mavericks last season, as the team only collected three wins overall and a just one conference victory. In their fourth game of the year, Minnesota State earned a 1-1 tie against St. Cloud State, but lost every other contest for the remainder of 2014, posting a 0-15-1 record to start the season. They opened 2015 with a loss to St. Lawrence on Jan. 3, and then finally picked up their first win of the season against Lindenwood four days later.

The Mavericks beat the Lions again in their next game on Jan. 9, but a seven-game losing streak followed before the Mavericks earned their first and only conference win against St. Cloud State on Feb. 2. That was all Minnesota State would be able to get out of the 2014-15 season, as the team ended the year on a nine-game skid, including the two losses to the Gophers in the WCHA quarterfinals.

Following the season, senior Kathleen Rogan was awarded with the 2015 Post-Graduate Scholarship by the WCHA, becoming the first student-athlete from Minnesota State to receive the award. Three Mavericks, including Rogan, were honored as WCHA Scholar-Athletes after the season. She finished her career in Mankato ranked fourth all-time for the program in scoring with 82 points (39 goals, 43 assists), while senior defender Shelby Moteyunas graduated as the fifth-highest scoring defenseman in Mavericks history with career totals of seven goals, 19 assists, and 26 points.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Bemidji State Beavers

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Jim Scanlan (2nd Season)
2015-16 Captains: Unannounced-Stephanie Anderson (A) in 2014-15

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 21-17-1 (13-14-1-1 WCHA/5th place)
WCHA Postseason: Conference runner-ups; advanced to WCHA Final Face-Off with quarterfinal series win vs. Minnesota Duluth, defeated Minnesota 1-0 in semifinals, lost to Wisconsin in championship game

The Beavers seemed to take a giant leap forward under first-year head coach Jim Scanlan last season, going further in the postseason than any Bemidji State team has ever done. They picked up a sweep over Robert Morris and two more non-conference wins early over Vermont and RPI, and were then swept by both Ohio State and Wisconsin. But the month of November had more exciting things in store for the squad. Over Halloween weekend, Bemidji State took five of six points from Minnesota on the road, earning a shootout win and 1-0 victory. They then had a big showing at home, sweeping North Dakota after a bye week and splitting with Minnesota Duluth the weekend after.

BSU went on to win its next three WCHA match-ups before dropping its last three games of 2014, one to St. Cloud State and two to Ohio State again. There were some definite bumps in the road in January; the Beavers salvaged a split with Lindenwood to open the 2015 calendar year and split with the Bulldogs again the following weekend. On the road in Madison, Bemidji State earned a big 2-1 win and then fell in a tough 2-1 overtime loss to Wisconsin. They closed out the month-long road trip in Grand Forks, where UND returned the favor from November and swept the Beavers handily.

They turned around with two sweeps of their own over Minnesota State and St. Cloud State, and ended the regular season with a series at home against Minnesota. Despite two hard-fought match-ups, BSU couldn’t take any more points from the Gophers, and headed into a quarterfinal series match-up with Minnesota Duluth the next weekend. After winning the first game, 3-2, the Beavers dropped a 1-0 decision in game two. In the deciding game three, Kaitlyn Tougas scored the game-winning goal in overtime to help the team advance to the WCHA Final Face-Off.

In the semifinal match-up against Minnesota, Bemidji State earned a 1-0 win over the Gophers to advance to the WCHA championship game for the first time in program history. Just a game away from the NCAA Tournament, they could not complete their run, falling to Wisconsin 4-0 in the conference title game.

A large part of the Beavers’ success last season was due to the play of goaltender Brittni Mowat, who was named a First Team All-American following the season. She was also selected to the All-WCHA First Team, and teammate Alexis Joyce was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team. Head coach Jim Scanlan was named both the WCHA Coach of the Year and the USCHO.com National Coach of the Year. The Beavers also had some representation on the international stage, as Stephanie Anderson became the first player in program history to be named to the U.S. Women’s National Team, winning a gold medal with the squad at the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championships.

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