The Alaska Anchorage Seawolves could lift a trophy this weekend and still miss the playoffs.
Odd? Of course.
But Alaska is known as the Last Frontier, and it’s a fitting theme for Alaska-Anchorage heading into the final weekend of the WCHA regular season.
While several WCHA teams are battling for playoff positioning, the Seawolves have a true “win or go home” scenario this weekend in the Alaska Airlines Governor’s Cup against the Alaska.
Sitting in 10th place in the WCHA with 26 points, the Seawolves need a sweep this weekend against the Nanooks and some outside help to catch Northern Michigan or Alabama-Huntsville and snag that final playoff spot.
The Seawolves can also win the Alaska Airlines Governor’s Cup with a strong showing this weekend. The two Alaska-based schools split their meetings back in December, and Alaska won the cup in 2016.
Of course, if Northern Michigan and Alabama-Huntsville win this weekend, we could have that odd scenario with the Seawolves celebrating with a trophy and missing the postseason.
The final countdowns
We’re finally here: The last weekend of the regular season.
And for the first time in what seems like ages, every single WCHA team is in action against another WCHA team.
Almost every team still has something to play for, so let’s go over what’s on the line in each series.
Alabama Huntsville at Bowling Green
The Chargers want: To make the playoffs after finishing last in the league last year and missing out. UAH has a chance: They’re just one point behind eighth-place Northern Michigan for the final playoff spot.
The Falcons want: Home ice in the first round. BGSU struggled early in the season and is hoping their better consistency late will give them a home playoff series for the second consecutive season. BG is currently tied for fourth place with Ferris State; if both teams sweep this weekend the Falcons own the tiebreaker (they’ll also have it over both Alaska and Lake Superior, should they tie).
Michigan Tech vs. Northern Michigan (home and home)
The Huskies want: To wrap up the No. 2 seed. Tech has been on Bemidji State’s heels all season, so earning that No. 2 seed would set up a potential showdown with the Beavers in the conference final. The Huskies are just three points ahead of third-place Minnesota State and can clinch with four points (or four MSU points lost).
The Wildcats want: To make the playoffs. After their nine-game unbeaten streak — fueled in part by Atte Tolvanen’s WCHA record shutout run — NMU would like to finish strong and see if Tolvanen can carry them in the playoffs. They’re currently in eighth place, just two points behind seventh-place Lake Superior and a point ahead of UAH.
Ferris State at Lake Superior State
The Bulldogs want: Home ice. It seems as though the Bulldogs quietly find themselves in this position every season. Even despite their early-season struggles, they’re right here: Tied with Bowling Green for the final playoff spot. They’ll need to finish with more points than the Falcons, however: BGSU holds the tiebreaker by virtue of more conference wins.
The Lakers want: A playoff berth. The Lakers are right in the middle of the playoff chase again, with 33 points (one behind sixth-place Alaska). LSSU could, in theory, finish in home ice position — they’re five points behind BG and could pass them with a sweep — but could also finish out of the playoffs entirely — Alabama Huntsville is three points behind LSSU.
Minnesota State at Bemidji State
The Mavericks want: The No. 2 seed. MSU has already clinched home ice for the first round. They’re just three points back of Michigan Tech for second. The Mavs can pass Tech with a four-point weekend (provided the Huskies earn three points or less) but also own the tiebreaker and could earn the No. 2 seed that way.
The Beavers want: A 20-win season. BSU locked up the MacNaughton Cup before Valentine’s Day then had a bye week. They should be rested and ready for a playoff run, and although they don’t need to do anything, they certainly want to pass the 20-win mark this season and go into the playoffs on a high note.
Alaska at Alaska Anchorage
The Nanooks want: A playoff berth. Have we mentioned before how close the WCHA standings are? The gap between No. 6 to No. 10 is a mere eight points. The Nanooks are currently in sixth and can clinch a spot with a win this weekend. They can also, crazily enough, get a home ice slot if they sweep and both Bowling Green and Ferris State are swept.
The Seawolves want: To avoid the cellar. But UAA is on very thin ice in tenth place. They’re five points out of eighth and, since the Seawolves don’t have any tiebreakers, they are eliminated with any point lost, any point won or any two points won by ninth-place Alabama Huntsville.