The top two spots and the bottom two spots in the WCHA standings are locked in, so we know two of next weekend’s first-round playoff matchups.
Four of the five home-ice spots are locked up, so that leaves three teams with a chance at the last one on the last day of the regular season.
You knew it was going to end up like this.
North Dakota clinched sole possession of the MacNaughton Cup and the top playoff spot with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at Wisconsin on Friday. The Sioux will play last-place Michigan Tech next weekend.
That leaves Denver locked into the second spot no matter what happens Saturday. The Pioneers get ninth-place Alaska-Anchorage in the first round.
Colorado College and Wisconsin earned home-ice spots through no doing of their own on Friday. CC was idle and the Badgers got help from the teams chasing them for fourth all losing. Talk about backing into a decent spot.
The Tigers can’t finish any lower than fourth, and that happens only if Wisconsin, which owns the tiebreaker against CC, does one point better in its finale against UND than CC does against Denver.
There’s only one way Wisconsin finishes in the fifth playoff spot, and that’s if it loses, St. Cloud State wins and Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth also lose. That would create a tie between the Huskies and the Badgers at 29 points, and SCSU would own the head-to-head tiebreaker on more conference wins.
St. Cloud State, Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth will fight for the last home-ice spot on Saturday, and if all three produce the same result, Minnesota gets it through a three-way tiebreaker thanks to series wins against the Huskies and the Bulldogs.
A four-way tie for fourth (Wisconsin loses, Minnesota wins, Minnesota-Duluth wins, St. Cloud State wins) would put the Badgers in the four hole, with the Gophers fifth, the Huskies sixth and the Bulldogs seventh.
A four-way tie for fifth (Minnesota State wins over St. Cloud State, Minnesota loses, Minnesota-Duluth loses) puts the Gophers fifth, the Bulldogs sixth, the Huskies seventh and the Mavericks eighth.
It appears that there’s a way Minnesota State can finish as the sixth seed. It involves the Mavericks beating the Huskies, Minnesota-Duluth getting at least one point and Minnesota losing again at Michigan Tech. That would put UMD fifth and create a three-way tie between Minnesota State, Minnesota and St. Cloud State for sixth at 27 points. The Mavericks take sixth, with Minnesota seventh.
Those, mind you, are just a few of the things that could happen on the last day of the WCHA regular season. There’s a good chance that things won’t be solidified until after WCHA game No. 140 ends in Denver.