March 4, 2013
First place St. Cloud State travels to Wisconsin this weekend
MADISON, Wis. – The final weekend of the 2012-13 men's regular season – Friday, March 8 through Sunday, March 10 – will have plenty of intrigue in Western Collegiate Hockey Association circles, with the final six conference series and 12 games to decide the conference champion(s), the six first round playoff pairings and the four remaining home playoff berths.
St. Cloud State, the current front-runner with 35 points, controls its own destiny in the league championship race, with one more victory or two points securing at least a share of the title and MacNaughton Cup. But Minnesota, North Dakota, Minnesota State and Wisconsin are knocking on the door, with the Golden Gophers and UND just two points back and the Mavericks and Badgers four back. Should one or more teams tie for first place in the final standings they will be declared co-champions. Tie-breakers, outlined in this release, are used for playoff seeding purposes only.
Heading into the final weekend, here is what we do know:
- St. Cloud and North Dakota have clinched home ice slots … UND won the season series over Denver (2-1-1 head-to-head) and there is now no combination of other teams that can join the tie to give Denver an edge over UND. If UND gets swept then Minnesota State goes to 35 points and cannot be involved in the tie at 33 points (which would help Denver). If UND does not get swept then they finish ahead of Denver outright so would clinch that way.
- Five teams (Minnesota, Minnesota State, Wisconsin, Nebraska Omaha, Denver) are alive for the four remaining home-ice playoff slots – one of those five will miss out and be seeded 7th.
- Current No. 8–No. 11 teams (Colorado College, Minnesota Duluth, Michigan Tech, Bemidji State) will finish No. 8–No. 11 in some order – and all will travel for the first round of playoffs.
- Alaska Anchorage is locked in as the #12 seed.
On the docket for the final weekend of the regular season are a full slate of six WCHA series with Colorado College traveling to Michigan Tech, St. Cloud State heading to Wisconsin, Nebraska Omaha playing at Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota visiting Bemidji State, North Dakota heading to Minnesota State and Alaska Anchorage playing at Denver.
At John MacInnes Student Ice Arena (4,128) in Houghton on Friday and Saturday, Michigan Tech (11-17-4, 7-15-4 WCHA) will host Colorado College in a pair of 7:07 pm ET face-offs. This is the only regular season series between the Huskies and Tigers.
In Madison Friday and Saturday, No. 14-ranked Wisconsin (16-11-7, 12-7-7 WCHA) will entertain league-leading and No. 8-ranked St. Cloud State (20-13-1, 17-8-1 WCHA) at Veterans Memorial Coliseum at Alliant Energy Center, where the Badgers began playing in 1969-70 until the Kohl Center opened. Game times both nights are 7:07 pm CT. This is the only regular season series between the Badgers and Huskies. The Kohl Center is hosting the state high school basketball tournament this weekend.
At AMSOIL Arena (6,726) in Duluth, the UMD Bulldogs (12-17-5, 8-13-5 WCHA) go up against No. 16-ranked Nebraska Omaha (18-14-2, 14-10-2 WCHA) at 7:07 pm CT on both March 8 and 9. The Mavericks swept the Bulldogs in Omaha back on Nov. 10-11 by 3-2 and 6-3 scores.
Up at Sanford Center (4,373) in Bemidji, Bemidji State (6-18-8, 5-14-7 WCHA) will entertain No. 2-ranked Minnesota (22-7-5, 14-7-5 WCHA) at 7:37 pm CT on Friday night and 7:07 pm CT on Saturday evening. These will be the only two games during the regular season between the Beavers and the Golden Gophers.
At Verizon Wireless Center (4,832) in Mankato this weekend, No. 10-ranked Minnesota State (21-10-3, 15-10-1 WCHA) skates against visiting and No. 5-ranked North Dakota (18-9-7, 13-6-7 WCHA) at 7:37 pm CT on Friday evening and 7:07 pm CT on Saturday night. The Mavericks and UND have not faced each other this season.
And at Magness Arena (6,026) in Denver, the No. 11/12-ranked Denver Pioneers (17-11-5, 12-9-5 WCHA) will take on Alaska Anchorage (4-21-7, 2-18-6 WCHA) on Friday evening at 7:37 pm MT and then on Sunday (March 10) afternoon at 12:07 pm MT. This is the only regular season series between DU and the Seawolves.
Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, St. Cloud State (17-8-1 WCHA) is in first place with 35 points, two better than both Minnesota (14-7-5 WCHA) and North Dakota (13-6-7 WCHA), who share second with 33 points each. Minnesota State (15-10-1 WCHA) and Wisconsin (12-7-7 WCHA) are tied for the fourth spot with 31 points apiece, followed by Nebraska Omaha (14-10-2 WCHA) in sixth with 30 points and Denver (12-9-5 WCHA) in seventh with 29 points. Colorado College (10-12-4 WCHA) is eighth with 24 points and cannot move up in the standings, but Minnesota Duluth (8-13-5 WCHA), currently ninth with 21 points, can pass the Tigers. Michigan Tech (7-15-4 WCHA) is 10th with 18 points, one ahead of 11th place Bemidji State (5-14-7 WCHA) with 17. Alaska Anchorage (2-18-6 WCHA) is 12th with 10 points.
The regular season champion in the WCHA is awarded the MacNaughton Cup and earns the No. 1 seed for the league's post-season tournament while the top six finishers in the final standings earn the home-ice advantage for the first round of WCHA Playoffs, a best-of-three series format set for the weekend of Friday-Sunday, March 15-17.
After the first round of league playoffs, the six winning teams will be re-seeded No. 1 through No. 6 according to their regular season finish and advance to the 2013 Red Baron™ WCHA Final Five, which will be contested Thursday, March 21 through Saturday, March 23 at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn. The winner of the Red Baron™ WCHA Final Five receives the Broadmoor Trophy and earns the WCHA's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.
In conference action last weekend (March 1-2), Wisconsin was the big winner as the Badgers took home four critical points and moved into a tie for fourth place following a 4-3, 6-2 road sweep at Nebraska Omaha. North Dakota, meanwhile, banked three points to secure a a home playoff berth and stay in contention for the league title after a 4-2 win and 2-2 (ot) tie with visiting Bemidji State. The three other league series all ended in splits. At St. Cloud State, the host SCSU Huskies prevailed 5-3 over Michigan Tech in the series opener last Friday before MTU powered back for a 5-1 triumph last Saturday. In Minneapolis, visiting Denver took game one last Friday from Minnesota 2-0 before the Gophers rallied for a 5-1 victory on Saturday. And in Colorado Springs, host Colorado College claimed a 4-1 win over Minnesota State on March 1 before the Mavericks skated to a 7-2 victory on Saturday.
Overall last weekend, home teams went just 4-5-1 in their 10 WCHA games. And now, through 156 games of the 168-game conference schedule contested as of March 4, home teams are 65-64-27 in league competition for just a .503 winning percentage.
Outside the WCHA on March 1-2, Minnesota Duluth swept visiting independent Alabama-Huntsville by 4-2 and 4-0 counts while Alaska Anchorage fell twice to CCHA-member Alaska, 2-1 (ot) and 3-1.
To date, the WCHA stands 48-34-5 (.580) in non-conference play. WCHA-member clubs are 9-0-1 (.950) vs the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA), 13-17-1 (.435) against the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), 7-8-1 (.469) vs ECAC Hockey, 9-8-1 (.528) vs the Hockey East Association (HEA), and 10-1-1 (.875) vs independents. Minnesota owns the best non-conference record at 8-0-0, followed by Minnesota State at 6-0-2. Other non-conference records by team are: Alaska Anchorage (2-3-1), Bemidji State (1-4-1), Colorado College (3-4-1), Denver (5-2-0), Michigan Tech (4-2-0), Minnesota Duluth (4-4-0), Nebraska Omaha (4-4-0), North Dakota (5-3-0), St. Cloud State (3-5-0), and Wisconsin (4-4-0).
In this week's USCHO.com Division 1 Men's College Hockey Poll issued March 4, seven WCHA-member teams continue to be ranked among the nation's top 20. Minnesota is at No. 2, North Dakota is up to No. 5, St. Cloud State is No. 8, Minnesota State is No. 10, Denver is No. 12, Wisconsin has climbed to No. 14 and Nebraska Omaha is at No. 16.
And in this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Division 1 Men's College Hockey Poll issued March 4, Minnesota is No. 2, North Dakota is No. 5, St. Cloud State is No. 8, Minnesota State is No. 10, Denver is No. 11 and Wisconsin is No. 14.
This Week in the WCHA
Games for Friday, March 8: Colorado College at Michigan Tech (WCHA), 7:07 pm ET; St. Cloud State at Wisconsin (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Nebraska Omaha at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Minnesota at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; North Dakota at Minnesota State (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Alaska Anchorage at Denver (WCHA), 7:37 pm MT.
Games for Saturday, March 9: Colorado College at Michigan Tech (WCHA), 7:07 pm ET; Minnesota at Bemidji State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; North Dakota at Minnesota State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; St. Cloud State at Wisconsin (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Nebraska Omaha at Minnesota Duluth (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT.
Games for Sunday, March 10: Alaska Anchorage at Denver (WCHA), 12:07 pm MT.