- Welcome to Playoff Hockey!: The Men's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) is on to the postseason, as the 2018 WCHA Playoffs – and the quest for the inaugural Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, Presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup – begin this weekend with the best-of-three, quarterfinal round series. More on the eight-team field, by seed:
- No. 1 Minnesota State: The MacNaughton Cup Champion Mavericks enter the postseason on an 11-game unbeaten streak (10-0-1), part of an NCAA-best 17-2-1 run (.875) since Dec. 1. Minnesota State leads the country this season in wins (26), goals (132), goals per game (3.88), goal margin (+62), goal margin per game (+1.82), power-play goals (44), shots on goal per game (21.91), shots on goal margin (+442) and shots on goal per game (+13.00).
- No. 2 Northern Michigan: Under first year head coach Grant Potulny, the No. 19 Wildcats are enjoying their first 20-win season since 2009-10 and, at 21-12-3 overall, have their most victories since the 2005-06 campaign (22-16-2). NMU has won nine-straight at home and is 13-2-0 at the Berry Events Center.
- No. 3 Bowling Green: The No. 17 Falcons, amid their fourth-consecutive 20-win season, have won a postseason series for an NCAA-best seven-straight seasons. BGSU boasts the nation's second highest-scoring freshman class, with 111 points (35g-76a).
- No. 4 Bemidji State: The 2016-17 WCHA regular season champions once again have home ice in the quarterfinals. The Beavers own the WCHA's best penalty kill unit at 87.9 pct. (third in the NCAA) and are 11th nationally by yielding just 2.36 goals per game.
- No. 5 Michigan Tech: The defending WCHA Playoff Champion Huskies are led by a senior class that has posted 83 wins – most by a Tech group since the 1984 class had 93.
- No. 6 Ferris State: The Bulldogs are making their 21st consecutive league postseason appearance under head coach Bob Daniels. Needing a win last weekend to secure its spot, Ferris State swept to move into the sixth seed.
- No. 7 Alabama Huntsville: The Chargers are back in the WCHA Playoffs for the first time since the 2013-14 season on the strength of their most wins since the 2009-10 campaign.
- No. 8 Alaska: Behind a pair of the league's top-scoring defensemen, seniors Zach Frye and Justin Woods, the Nanooks return to the WCHA Playoffs.
- Winning Hockey: The top four seeds in the 2018 WCHA Playoffs all rank among the top-20 nationally this season for winning percentage.
- Minnesota State is second at .779 (26-7-1), Bowling Green is 10th at .639 (20-10-6), Northern Michigan is 11th at .625 (21-12-3) and Bemidji State is tied for 19th at .556 (16-12-8).
- As mentioned above, the Mavericks have played the best hockey in the country since Dec. 1, going 17-2-1 (.875). The Falcons are fourth in that span at .714 (14-5-2), while the Wildcats are fifth at .705 (14-5-3).
- Minnesota State is also tops in the season's second half (since Jan. 1), going 12-1-1 (.893). Bowling Green (12-4-0) and Northern Michigan (10-3-1) are tied for fifth, each posting a .750 winning percentage.
- 20x4: As of now, three teams in the nation can boast four-straight 20-win seasons: Providence, along with Bowling Green and Minnesota State.
- The Mavericks, in fact, have set a program record with six-consecutive 20-win campaigns, while they rank second in the country with 124 wins since opening night of the 2013-14 season (the Falcons are tied for 12th with 104 victories, while a third WCHA school, Michigan Tech, is 11th with 106).
WCHA Postseason Tournament Primer
- Back on Campus: Once again bringing the singular intensity of playoff hockey directly to its member institution fans, the three-week, eight-team 2018 WCHA Postseason Tournament will be held at home sites of the highest-ranked seeds.
- WCHA Playoffs: The WCHA Playoffs consist of this weekend's best-of-three quarterfinal-round series hosted by the top four seeds, followed by the best-of-three semifinals the weekend of March 9-11 (hosted by the top remaining seeds).
- WCHA Championship: The two semifinal series winners will meet Saturday, March 17 in the one-game 2018 WCHA Championship, hosted by the top remaining seed.
- Remembering the Dean: The WCHA honored to introduce the Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, Presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup, to be awarded each season to the WCHA Postseason Tournament Champion, beginning with the upcoming 2018 League playoffs and championship. For more information on Coach Sauer's enduring legacy and his namesake trophy, please visit here.
By the Numbers
- 3: WCHA 20-goal scorers (Alabama Huntsville's Josh Kestner, Minnesota State's C.J. Suess and Northern Michigan's Robbie Payne), most since the 2013-14 season.
- 5.51: Average goals scored per WCHA league game (772 total), up 5.6 percent from last season and 10.6 percent from the 2015-16 campaign.
- 36: Points in league games (19g-17a) by 2017-18 WCHA Scoring Champion C.J. Suess of Minnesota State, most since the 2012-13 WCHA campaign.
2018 WCHA Playoffs (Quarterfinals)
- No. 8 Alaska at No. 1 Minnesota State: The WCHA regular season champion Mavericks open the league playoffs by hosting the Nanooks. Alaska handed Minnesota State its last loss, 5-0 in Fairbanks on Jan. 12; but, the Mavericks won the series finale, 5-1, the next night to begin their current 11-game unbeaten streak.
- No. 7 Alabama Huntsville at No. 19 Northern Michigan: The Wildcats will host a league playoff game for the first time since a 2012 CCHA postseason series, welcoming the Chargers for their first playoff games since March 2015. UAH and Northern Michigan each won twice during their four-game regular season series, with splits Dec. 1-2 in Marquette and Feb. 3-4 in Huntsville.
- No. 6 Ferris State at No. 3 Bowling Green: Two perennial postseason participants meet in a rematch of their 2017 WCHA Playoffs quarterfinal series, which the host Falcons swept. Bowling Green has won a league playoff series for an NCAA-best seven-straight seasons (the entire Chris Bergeron era), while Ferris State has participated in 21-consecutive league tournaments. BGSU swept the lone 2017-18 regular season series, winning both games Jan. 6-7 in Big Rapids.
- No. 5 Michigan Tech at No. 4 Bemidji State: A quarterfinal round matchup of the 2016-17 WCHA regular season champion Beavers against the reigning WCHA Playoff Champion Huskies. The teams met once in the regular season, splitting Feb. 9-10 in Houghton.