So we’ve got nine games this weekend to decide eight spots in the WCHA standings. I was going to try to figure out tiebreakers in this space, but that seems like something more suited for after Friday night’s games, after the possibilities are a little better defined.
So here’s my best guess as to how the games are going to shake out this weekend, and we’ll then see what happens to the standings.
Minnesota at Michigan Tech: I’m not convinced that the Gophers’ performance last weekend against Minnesota-Duluth (three points at home) was a sign of things to come, but we do know that the Huskies will finish in last place by a large margin. Still, keep in mind that Tech managed a tie against Minnesota back when things were going well for the Gophers. I think it happens again. Minnesota 3-2, tie 3-3
North Dakota at Wisconsin: You’ve got to figure something interesting is going to happen here. It always does. My guess is that the Sioux take care of the MacNaughton Cup on Friday. Normally, I’d say the Badgers would respond on Saturday, but I’m not convinced that they’re going to pull out of their funk. North Dakota 4-2, tie 2-2
Alaska-Anchorage at Minnesota-Duluth: The Seawolves took three points from the Bulldogs in October, but that’s when UAA was fresh and not entombed in its annual second-half slumber. Just a hunch that UMD comes out with a critical sweep. Minnesota-Duluth 3-2, 3-1
Minnesota State at/vs. St. Cloud State: Home-and-home set here, and the Huskies took both ends in December to start the Mavericks on a six-game losing streak. I think this one goes down as a split, with both teams winning at home. St. Cloud State 4-1, Minnesota State 3-2
Colorado College at Denver: The Tigers have already wrapped up the Gold Pan — the worst they can do is split the season series, and they’re already in possession of the trophy. But rivalries are rivalries, and with only one game this weekend, you’d figure both teams will put everything on the line. The guess here is that the Pioneers will already be locked into second place by Saturday’s game, but the home crowd should help them get by the Tigers. Denver 3-2
Here’s how the standings would shake out if those results come to pass:
1. North Dakota (17-6-5), 39 points
2. Denver (17-8-3), 37
3. Minnesota-Duluth (12-9-7), 31
t4. Wisconsin (13-11-4), 30
t4. Colorado College (12-10-6), 30
t4. Minnesota (12-10-6), 30
7. St. Cloud State (14-13-1), 29
8. Minnesota State (11-14-3), 25
9. Alaska-Anchorage (7-16-5), 19
10. Michigan Tech (1-19-8), 10
That three-way tie for fourth place really goes down to Wisconsin and Colorado College, because both teams won the season series against Minnesota and tied with each other. Wisconsin wins the second tiebreaker, most conference wins. That puts CC fifth and Minnesota sixth.
The interesting thing about picking things this way is that I don’t think I would ever have picked the standings to finish that way without actually going through and picking the games individually.
For the first round of the playoffs, that would send Michigan Tech to North Dakota (we’ve seen that one before), Alaska-Anchorage to Denver, Minnesota State to Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State to Wisconsin (a rematch of last year’s first round) and Minnesota to Colorado College.
Let’s see how it all shakes out.