Here’s the league’s release about this weekend’s regular season finales and the playoff scenarios.
MADISON, Wis. – The final weekend of the 2010-11 regular season will carry plenty of intrigue as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s 12 men’s member teams engage in a full slate of six league series. The match ups for Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5 have North Dakota at Michigan Tech, Colorado College at Wisconsin, Nebraska Omaha at Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota at Bemidji State, Alaska Anchorage at Minnesota State and St. Cloud State at Denver.
At stake are the two remaining first round home playoff berths, up for grabs between Minnesota, Colorado College, Wisconsin and St. Cloud State, and 11 of the 12 first round playoff matchups. What’s been decided to date? North Dakota has clinched at least a share of the regular season title and MacNaughton Cup as well as the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament. Denver can still earn a share of the league title but the Sioux would prevail in the tie-breaking scenario for playoff seeding purposes based on more league wins (UND and DU tied their two-game regular season series, 1-1-0.) If Denver earns a share of the league title, the Pioneers would be the No. 2 playoff seed.
Although there are too many possible scenarios regarding final positions in the standings and first round matchups heading into the final 12 games to list them all, the following is known:
• the current top four – North Dakota, Denver, Nebraska Omaha and Minnesota Duluth – will be the final top four in some order.
• Alaska Anchorage, Bemidji State, Minnesota State and Michigan Tech will be traveling for the first round. MTU will be seeded 12th for the WCHA tournament.
• That leaves four teams – Minnesota, Colorado College, Wisconsin and St. Cloud State – for the last two home ice spots. Minnesota, Colorado College and Wisconsin all control their own destinies to get one:
• Minnesota needs one point to clinch home ice, or for St. Cloud State to lose a point.
• Colorado College needs two points to clinch home ice.
• Wisconsin needs four points to clinch home ice. (UW would clinch with three points if St. Cloud State does not sweep at Denver).
• St. Cloud State gets home ice if: they sweep Denver and UW gets exactly three points, OR they sweep Denver, UW gets 0, 1, or 4 points, Minnesota gets 0 points, and St. Cloud State’s final goal differential in league play (goals for minus goals against) is greater than Minnesota’s.
• If St. Cloud State does not sweep Denver, then the final two home ice playoff slots will go to Minnesota and the winner of the CC-UW series (or CC if the series splits).
On the docket this weekend, March 4-5, five of the six WCHA series being contested – UND at MTU, CC at UW, UNO at UMD, UM at BSU and SCSU at DU – mark the only regular season series between the respective clubs.
North Dakota (24-8-3, 19-6-1 WCHA, 1st) will take on Michigan Tech (4-26-4, 2-22-2 WCHA, 12th) at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena (4,128) in Houghton on Friday evening at 7:07 pm ET and Saturday at 5:07 pm ET. The Sioux enter the weekend in the midst of a seven-game unbeaten streak at 6-0-1.
Colorado College (18-15-3,12-12-2 WCHA, 6th) heads to Madison and the Kohl Center (15,325) to face-off against Wisconsin (19-13-4, 11-12-3 WCHA, 7th) at 7:07 pm CT on both Friday and Saturday.
Nebraska Omaha (20-12-2, 16-8-2 WCHA, 3rd) travels to Duluth and new AMSOIL Arena (6,764) to skate against Minnesota Duluth (19-8-6, 14-7-5 WCHA, 4th) in Friday-Saturday, 7:07 pm CT puck drops.
Up at the new Sanford Center (4,258) in Bemidji this weekend, streaking Minnesota (15-12-5, 12-10-4 WCHA, 5th) goes up against Bemidji State (12-16-4, 8-14-4, tie 10th) in Friday and Saturday 7:07 pm CT face-offs. The Golden Gophers are unbeaten over their last five games at 4-0-1.
In the Mile High City, host Denver (20-9-5, 16-7-3 WCHA, 2nd) will engage St. Cloud State (14-15-5, 10-12-4 WCHA, 8th) at the Pioneers’ Magness Arena (6,026) on Friday night at 7:37 pm MT and Saturday evening at 7:07 pm MT.
And in Mankato, Minnesota State (14-14-6, 8-14-4 WCHA, tie 10th) will entertain visiting Alaska Anchorage (12-17-3, 10-14-2 WCHA, 9th) at Verizon Wireless Center (4,832) at Friday at 7:37 pm CT and Saturday at 7:07 pm CT. The Mavericks are 1-0-1 vs the Seawolves this season after a 3-2 victory and 2-2 (ot) tie at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage back on Oct. 29-30.