Part 2 today of my look at the WCHA Playoffs and who these teams would LIKE to play. Should have explained yesterday, but these opinions are based on realistic match-ups for the playoffs. Yeah, St. Cloud State would love to play Alaska-Anchorage (as everyone else probably would), but it’s not going to happen.
Without further ado, here is the top-half of the league, and who they’d like to play:
T4 — North Dakota: The Fighting Sioux have a big series at Denver this weekend, and a pair of wins would vault UND ahead of DU in the standings. At 27 points, North Dakota is just three points out of third place.
Who they want: Bemidji State
The Beavers beat North Dakota 1-0 earlier this season to score their first win over North Dakota. Ever. Safe to say, history resides on the side of the Fighting Sioux in this one.
T4 — Nebraska-Omaha: The Mavericks are hoping to stay within striking distance of Denver this weekend, because UNO hosts the Pioneers next weekend to wrap up the season. Although Omaha is tied with North Dakota in the standings, UNO has to be hoping for a split in the UND-DU series. If it happens, Omaha needs to take care of business against Minnesota.
Who they want: St. Cloud State
The Mavericks took 3 of 4 points against the Huskies in Omaha earlier this season and went 3-0-1 against them last season. Personally, I don’t think the Mavs care who they play, as long as it’s not Bemidji State. For some reason, the Beavers present UNO with a host of problems when they play, and I doubt the Mavericks would enjoy the constant questions in the lead up to that series.
T4 — Colorado College: The Tigers have been an average team virtually all season. After a 4-0 start, CC is just 12-12-2 overall and just a game over .500 in conference play. At 5-7 on the road in WCHA play, maintaining home ice is critically important and provides the Tigers with a distinct advantage.
Who they want: Wisconsin
CC is extremely familiar with the Badgers — the Tigers beat Wisconsin in three games in the first round last year. CC swept Wisconsin in their lone meeting this season at World Arena and are 5-2 against UW over the last two seasons. Plus, Wisconsin has just one road win this season, and a trip to Colorado Springs is probably the second most tedious in the league for the boys from Madison.
1-3 — Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, Denver: All three of these teams are in a similar spot in terms of who they want to play… obviously only one will get them. Third place Denver and league-leading Minnesota are separated by four points with UMD stuck right in the middle, meaning plenty of shuffling can still take place among the top-3 teams.
Who they want: Alaska-Anchorage
The Seawolves style of play can present problems for any team, but it’s pretty safe to say all three teams would love the opportunity to take on Anchorage, a team that’s a lengthy plane ride away and has won just three times since Thanksgiving. These three teams are a combined 7-1-0 against UAA this season, with the lone Seawolf victory coming against UMD in Anchorage just a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure the Gophers would love the opportunity to avenge last season’s embarrassing playoff ouster at the hands of the Seawolves.