Hockey / 2018 WCCHA Tournament Review: Minnesota Earns 5th Overall Title in Epic Final

2018 WCCHA Tournament Review: Minnesota Earns 5th Overall Title in Epic Final

Date:  Source: Western Collegiate Club Hockey Association


The 2018 WCCHA Tournament was held this past weekend at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota, and the action on the ice was inspired and competitive for all three days of the tournament. The two highest seeds, Minnesota and Wisconsin, were tested along the way by teams looking to claw their way to the title game for a chance at the Carla Berg Cup and the WCCHA Automatic Bid to the Central Regional Tournament. In the end, the Division winners would meet in a memorable game to determine the 2018 WCCHA Championship.




The #1 seed Minnesota Gophers squared off against the #8 seed St. Thomas Tommies in what would turn out to be a high scoring affair. The Gophers jumped out with the first four goals of the first period, with James Scanlan, Dylan Ross, Dylan Klehr, and Brandon Thompson all getting markers up before the Tommies found their game. Connor Fulco scored for UST to stabilize the game, and just a bit later Tommie forward Patrick Lauderdale found the net to bring the score to 4-2. In the middle frame, Matt Cossette brought the Tommies within one goal by getting a tally of his own. With the scoreboard showing 4-3, Minnesota found the net two more times before the end of the second. Evan Dahlseide and Dylan Ross found twine, with Ross’ goal the eventual game-winner.  The Tommies added a goal in the second to pull the score to 6-4. Minnesota added two goals, one an empty netter, and the Tommies picked one up in garbage time, but Minnesota had enough to prevail. The Gophers dropped the Tommies by a score of 8-5.

The #2 seed Wisconsin Badgers took on the #7 Fighting Hawks of the University of North Dakota in another quarterfinal matchup.  UND jumped out to an early lead courtesy of an Alec Herb goal, but the Badgers came storming back in the second period.  Jake Cohn, Mason Bartosh, and Louie Meysembourg all found the back of the net in the middle frame. Carrying a 3-1 lead into the third, Wisconsin defenseman Eric Udelhoven blasted a shot home for a 4-1 lead, only to be answered by a Talon Johnson goal for UND to bring the score to 4-2. Offensive Player of the Year Matt Masterman added one final insurance goal for UW, giving his team a 5-2 lead, which would hold up for Wisconsin to advance.

The #3 seed Bethel Royals matched up against the #6 seed University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugolds. Playing a disciplined, methodical game, Bethel managed to get bang home a goal from in tight courtesy of Jonathan Trepstra in the first period.  UWEC, unable to solve Royals goaltender Will Griswold, outshot the Royals in every period but would continue to get nothing to show for it. Later in the second, Noah Bragg and Adam Fisher for Bethel would both put home goals, again from in close, to widen the Royals lead to 3-0. Reese Ferrin and Ty Walls would slide home empty net goals for Bethel, leaving the final score at 5-0. Griswold earned the impressive shutout for the Royals.

#4 North Dakota State University and #5 Minnesota State-Mankato tangled in what was sure to be a closely contested quarterfinal. Mankato jumped out to a three goal lead early, with Ken Baublitz, Justin Novak, and Brandon Rogers finding twine. Bison forward Montana Milless stopped the bleeding in the second period with a goal, only to be answered just before the horn by Ryan Streetar from Mankato. Down 4-1 going into the third, Justin Novak would score his 2nd of the game to push the score to 5-1. With time running out, NDSU mounted a furious rally. Jake Foss, Ryan Jordan, and Spencer Helming all scored in a three minute stretch to close the Maverick lead to 5-4. However, Mankato goaltender Waldemar Sunden held up the rest of the way as Mankato survived with a 5-4 win.


The semifinal featuring #1 Minnesota and #5 Mankato was a rematch of the 2017 WCCHA Championship Game, in which Mankato rolled to claim the Carla Berg Cup. Minnesota had revenge on their mind, and their drive paid off with an emphatic victory. The scoring started in the second period when Gopher forward Colin Monk got loose for a breakaway and was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot. Monk converted, giving his team the early lead. Brandon Thompson would combine with Nick Anderson and James Scanlan to give the Gophers a two goal lead. Tyler Lawry, Maverick forward, sent a sizzling shot in to cut the score to 2-1. Unfortunately for Mankato, that was all the offense they could muster against Minnesota. In the first minute of the third period, the Gophers put their foot on the gas. James Scanlan scored twice, Dylan Ross once, and Jacob Carfagna all earned goals for the Gophers, and put the game well out of reach. The Gophers avenged their 2017 loss with a 6-1 win, moving them on to the final.

#2 Wisconsin and #3 Bethel split their regular season meeting, and this semifinal was extremely close as well. While neither team had much time and space to create, both Trevor Macey for UW and Will Griswold for BU matched each other almost save for save. Bethel forward Ike Larson would draw first blood, scoring five minutes into the contest. In the second period, Tyler Larwood fired home a goal, giving Bethel a 2-0 lead. Shortly thereafter Wisconsin, led offensively by Matt Masterman, began their comeback. Masterman scored 12:58 into the second period, and then again with just 23 seconds left to tie the game. The Badgers carried that momentum into the third period, where Defensive Player of the Year Brien Martin jumped up ice and finished off a passing sequence from Justin Anderson and Aaron Michaelson to give Wisconsin a 3-2 lead. Larwood for Bethel answered just 40 seconds later. In a tight checking, fast period, Macey and Griswold dueled down the stretch. Ian Klotz would break the tie with the eventual game-winner, slamming home a rebound for a 4-3 lead. Wisconsin held up, and advanced to the championship game. 

In the Consolation round, #6 UW-Eau Claire dispatched the #7 University of North Dakota by a 6-4 score. #4 North Dakota State ended #8 St. Thomas’ season with a 5-1 win. UWEC and NDSU would meet in the Consolation Final.


#1 Minnesota and #2 Wisconsin met in the championship game, with the Carla Berg Cup and the WCCHA Automatic Bid to the ACHA Central Regional Tournament on the line. Clay Knutsen for Minnesota and Trevor Macey for Wisconsin would make up the goaltender’s duel, and they did not disappoint. The Badgers opened the scoring, with senior forward Justin Anderson ripping home a power play goal. Just two minutes later, the Gophers answered. Kellen Campbell received a beautiful feed from Dylan Klehr, and deposited it in the net to tie the game at 1-1 in the 1st period. Both Knutsen and Macey would make big saves down the stretch to send the game to the 2nd period knotted up. Early in the 2nd, Jake Cohn from UW found some room along the top of the circles in the Minnesota zone, and got off a hard wrist shot that beat Knutsen to give Wisconsin a 2-1 lead. About halfway through the period, the Gophers would get the equalizer. Dylan Klehr stuffed home a goal to tie the game at 2. There were no more goals in the 2nd period, and despite many chances, no goals in the 3rd either.

Overtime brought 4-on-4 hockey, with the next goal taking home the Carla Berg Cup and all that came with it. With lots of open ice, both teams’ skill players put on displays, but the goaltenders again denied all chances. The buzzer sounded ending the five minute overtime period, meaning the game would officially go into the ACHA books as a 2-2 tie. The Carla Berg Cup would be awarded to the shootout winner (shootout format is a Three Man Shootout, and then extra frames until a winner is decided).  Wisconsin would shoot first, and Matt Masterman had his attempt saved. James Scanlan went for Minnesota, but missed the net. Justin Anderson missed, and Dylan Klehr for Minnesota also missed. Badger forward Todd Bates had his attempt saved, as did Gopher forward Brandon Thompson. Finally in the first sudden death round, Jake Cohn for UW scored, but Nick Anderson for UMN also scored to extend the shootout another frame. Brien Martin had his attempt saved, and Dylan Ross missed the net. Jordan Hybbert for the Badgers hit the post, setting up Connor Freeman for Minnesota to win it. Freeman faked right and beat Macey to the left side, ending the shootout and giving Minnesota their fifth WCCHA title.

With the Tournament victory, the Gophers - currently #11 in the Central - guaranteed their spot at the 2018 Central Regionals in St. Louis in two weeks. However, they will wait to find out their final seed. Other WCCHA teams, including Wisconsin, UW-Eau Claire and Bethel will all be eager to learn their fates following the culmination of their regular season.

Earlier in the day, #4 NDSU dispatched #6 UWEC by a score of 5-2 to win Consolation. #5 Mankato defeated #3 Bethel in a shootout, claiming third place after an exciting game finished at 5-5.


Following the completion of the 2018 WCCHA Tournament, the WCCHA is proud to announce this year's All-Tournament team:


FORWARDS: Brandon Thompson (Minnesota), Spencer Helming (North Dakota State), Matt Masterman (Wisconsin)

DEFENSE: Brien Martin (Wisconsin), Evan Dahlseide (Minnesota)

GOALIE: Clay Knutsen (Minnesota)