We have an undisputed, outright WCHA MacNaughton Cup champion.
Minnesota made sure of that by winning over Wisconsin tonight. Even if they had stumbled, Minnesota-Duluth tied in St. Cloud, meaning the Bulldogs would have finished one point short anyways.
And while the results in Minneapolis and St. Cloud had no effect on seeding for the front-runners, it had plenty of meaning for the Huskies and Badgers.
Here’s what it means for them:
The tie for SCSU, coupled with Denver’s comeback win over UNO, means the Huskies jump ahead of Omaha for the sixth and final home playoff spot. The Mavericks led with less than a minute to play in regulation, but a late power play goal with the empty net sent the game to overtime, where Daniel Doremus sent UNO fans home angry, and for the last time this season. Blais’ bunch will play in St. Cloud next weekend. Had Omaha held on for even a tie, that series would have been at the CenturyLink Center. But alas…
A win or a tie for the Badgers would have cemented ninth place, but a loss leaves the door open for Bemidji State, which is playing in Alaska right now. The Beavers jump ahead of Wisconsin for ninth if they win. A tie or loss keeps UW ahead of BSU.
The SCSU tie rendered the result in Colorado Springs between CC and Michigan Tech, essentially useless… at least in the home-ice race. Tech could have jumped Omaha for seventh, avoiding back-to-back trips to Colorado, but a 2-0 loss sealed its fate. The Huskies will
go home to Houghton for a couple of days before getting back on a plane to Colorado Springs later in the week stay in the Springs all week, making for an interesting week-long road trip.
North Dakota and Minnesota State were both locked into their spots at the start of the night. The Mavericks knew they were heading to Duluth. Either Bemidji or Wisconsin will be heading to Grand Forks next weekend. The Sioux will play the ninth-place team.
So, all of that said, here are your playoff match-ups for next weekend:
(12) Alaska-Anchorage at (1) Minnesota
(11) Minnesota State at (2) Minnesota-Duluth
(10) BSU/Wisconsin at (3) Denver
(9) BSU/Wisconsin at (4) North Dakota
(8) Michigan Tech at (5) Colorado College
(7) Nebraska-Omaha at (6) St. Cloud State
Certainly some interesting series in there, with a couple of potential upsets. I’ll make picks and analyze the contests later in the week.
One more quick thing. I wanted to see how my preseason picks stacked up with the final standings. Only one word comes to mind: Yuck. To my credit, I picked Denver third — the Pioneers were picked overwhelmingly as the league champion. It was the lone team I got right. Below is how I stacked up.
2. Minnesota Duluth
4. North Dakota
5. Colorado College
6. St. Cloud State
8. Michigan Tech
9. Wisconsin/Bemidji State
10. Bemidji State/Wisconsin
11. Minnesota State
MY PRESEASON PICKS:
1. Colorado College
2. North Dakota
8. Minnesota State
9. St. Cloud State
11. Bemidji State
12. Michigan Tech