- NCAA Tourney Time: The Men's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) will be represented by its regular season champion (Minnesota State) and its back-to-back playoff champ (Michigan Tech) in the 2018 Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship.
- MacNaughton Cup champion Minnesota State, which leads the country with 29 wins and ranks second with a .756 winning percentage (29-9-1), is the second seed of the West Regional and will face third-seeded Minnesota Duluth (21-16-3) Friday, March 23 at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Mavericks and Bulldogs will drop the puck at 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN3/WatchESPN, following the first semifinal between top-seeded St. Cloud State (25-8-6) and No. 4 seed Air Force (22-14-5). The West Regional championship will be Saturday, March 25 at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN2/WatchESPN.
- After going 5-1 on the road en route to the 2018 WCHA Postseason Tournament title, Michigan Tech (22-16-5) will be the No. 4 seed in the East Regional and will take on No. 1 seed Notre Dame (25-9-2) at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. The Huskies and Fighting Irish will play Friday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2/WatchESPN. The winner will face either No. 2 seed Providence (23-11-4) or No. 3 Clarkson (23-10-6) in the East Regional championship Saturday at 6 p.m. ET on ESPNU/WatchESPN.
- Horns Up: In addition to leading the NCAA with 29 wins, Minnesota State enters the tournament tops in nationally in: Goals (151), goals per game (3.87), goal margin (+70), goal margin per game (+1.79), shots on goal allowed per game (22.00), shots on goal margin (+510) and shots on goal margin per game (+13.08).
- The Mavericks are the NCAA's only team to rank among the top-10 nationally in scoring offense (first at 3.87 goals per game), scoring defense (fourth at 3.08 goals allowed per game), power-play rate (second at 27.4 percent, 51-for-186) and penalty-kill efficiency (sixth at 85.9 percent, 146-for-170).
- Minnesota State has won 20 of its last 25 games, going an NCAA-best 20-4-1 (.820) since Dec. 1.
- For the first time for its NCAA DI era, Minnesota State has six players with at least 30 points (C.J. Suess - 43; Zeb Knutson - 42; Marc Michaelis - 39; Jake Jaremko - 39, most-ever by a Mavericks freshman and second among NCAA rookies this season; Parker Tuomie - 37; Daniel Brickley - 35).
- The Mavericks are making their fifth NCAA Division I tournament appearance, including their fourth in six seasons under head coach Mike Hastings. Minnesota State is looking for its first-ever D-I tournament victory.
- Follow the Huskies: First-year head coach Joe Shawhan guided Michigan Tech on an improbable run from WCHA tournament fifth seed to repeat champions after road series wins at Bemidji State and Minnesota State, capped by a single-game victory at Northern Michigan to earn the inaugural Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup.
- The Huskies are 8-3-0 in their last 11 games, matching Air Force and Princeton for the NCAA's most wins since Feb. 10.
- Tech has the NCAA tournament's top-scoring senior class (48g-77a--125pts) and defensive corps (24g-83a--107pts).
- Since taking over in the Huskies' net for Game 2 of their WCHA Playoffs semifinal-round series at Minnesota State, junior Patrick "Packy" Munson is 3-0 with a 0.92 goals-against average and a .969 save pct. (93-for-96). He earned WCHA Championship "First Star" and Most Outstanding Player honors after a 21-save shutout in Tech's 2-0 victory.
- After enduring a 34-year drought between NCAA Tournament appearances, Michigan Tech is back for the second-straight season and third time in the last four campaigns (also 2015). This is Tech's 13th overall appearance in the NCAAs, having advanced to at least the national semifinals 10 times (most recently in 1981), including winning national championships in 1962, 1965 and 1975. MTU is 13-11 (.542) all-time in NCAA tournament play.
- 20 (x4): For the third-consecutive season, the WCHA has produced four, 20-win teams: Minnesota State (29-9-1), Northern Michigan (25-15-3), Bowling Green (23-12-6) and Michigan Tech (22-16-5).
- Minnesota State has reached the 20-win plateau in all six seasons under head coach Mike Hastings, marking the longest stretch in the 49-year history of the program. The Mavericks' 151 victories during the Hastings era (since 2012-13) lead the NCAA, three more than North Dakota and Quinnipiac (each with 148).
- Michigan Tech has at least 20 wins in four-consecutive seasons, its longest run since the 1972-76, four-year stretch under the legendary John MacInnes. Bowling Green is also on a four-year roll of 20-plus victories, the third-longest in program history.
- The Huskies are fifth nationally with 97 wins since 2014-15, while the Falcons are 11th with 89.
- Tradition Starts Here: Four (4) of the nation's top-20 winningest teams since opening night of the 2013-14 season play in the WCHA -- matching the NCHC for the second-highest representation of any conference among those 21 teams (two are tied for 20th).
- Minnesota State leads the country with 127 wins during that five-year span (North Dakota is second with 126), Michigan Tech is 10th with 111, Bowling Green is tied for 13th with 107 and Ferris State is tied for 20th with 94.
- #CJ4Hobey: Minnesota State senior forward C.J. Suess, the 2017-18 WCHA Player of the Year, Scoring Champion and first-team All-WCHA selection, is also a Hobey Baker Memorial Award Top-10 Finalist. The Mavericks' co-captain is tied for 15th nationally with a career-high 43 points, tied for 11th with 22 goals and tied for 19th with a plus-18 rating.
- The Mavericks' active scoring leader with 127 points (57g-70a) in 156 games, Suess has played in 127 consecutive contests.
- Doing It With CLASS: Two WCHA student-athletes are among the 10 finalists for the 2017-18 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate hockey: Bemidji State goaltender Michael Bitzer and Bowling Green forward Mitch McLain.
- BSU's Brendan Harms won the 2016-17 Senior CLASS Award as the most outstanding senior student-athlete in the sport.
2018 WCHA Championship
(5) Michigan Tech 2, at (2) Northern Michigan 0
(March 17 at Berry Events Center; Marquette, Mich.)
The all-Upper Peninsula 2018 WCHA Championship lived up to its billing, with Michigan Tech repeating as league playoff champs with a 2-0 victory at Northern Michigan in front of a capacity crowd of 4,260. With the win, the Huskies earned the inaugural Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, Presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup, and the league's automatic NCAA tournament bid.
Michigan Tech junior goaltender Patrick Munson was the difference, capping a remarkable three-game WCHA tournament run with a 21-save shutout to earn the WCHA Championship First Star and Most Outstanding Player honors. He made nine stops in a scoreless first period, nine more as the Huskies took a 1-0 lead in the second stanza and three over the game's final 20 minutes, holding the one-goal advantage until Tech's empty-netter with 47 seconds remaining.
The longtime UP rivals took the ice to a frenzied, standing-room only crowd, playing an even first period as Northern Michigan junior netminder Atte Tolvanen turned aside the seven shots he faced. Tech freshman Greyson Reitmeier opened the scoring 5:56 into the second period with what turned out to be the game-winner. Mitch Meek set the play up with a shot that bounced of the back wall and out front, Justin Misiak got a piece of the puck for the primary assist and Reitmeier shoveled one past Tolvanen for a 1-0 lead.
Tech's defense did the rest, while Munson made a spectacular, sliding armpit save with 2:20 left in the second period to stop a 2-on-1 opportunity for Northern Michigan. The Wildcats also hit a pipe early in the third period and a had a potential goal in the final five seconds waived off because of a high stick. Joel L'Esperance finished the scoring with an empty-net strike at 19:13 of the third period.
In addition to Munson's hardware, Misiak was named the WCHA Championship's Third Star and Reitmeier earned Second Star accolades.
Tech entered the 2018 WCHA Postseason Tournament as the fifth seed, but upset No. 4 seed Bemidji State with a two-game sweep in the quarterfinal round of the WCHA Playoffs, top-seeded Minnesota State in a three-game semifinal-round series and No. 2 seed Northern Michigan in the single-game WCHA Championship.
Michigan Tech has now won two-straight and four overall WCHA Playoff Championships (also 1962, 1965 and 2017), while the Huskies earned WCHA co-playoff titles in 1960, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1981.
A full recap, video highlights and photo gallery are available at wcha.com.