North Dakota wins Penrose Cup outright
Congratulations are in order for North Dakota, which won the NCHC regular season championship outright on Friday by virtue of a 2-1 road win over second-place Miami.
The RedHawks could have picked up a share of the Penrose Cup title if they had swept UND this weekend in Oxford Ohio. UND came into the series six points ahead of its hosts.
At the end of the weekend’s action, though, the six-point gap remained. The most notable portion happened in the series’s first game in which UND goaltender Zane McInytre stopped 43 of the 44 shots he saw in order to help his team reach one of its bigger goals for this season.
Miami exacted a certain level of revenge on Saturday by posting a 6-3 win, but UND had already gotten what it came to Oxford for. UND will host last-place Colorado College next weekend in the first round of the NCHC playoffs, while Miami will welcome Western Michigan to Steve Cady Arena.
Ortega seals place in record books
Omaha needed a win on Saturday against CC to lock home home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and one of the Mavericks’ biggest stars helped UNO make that happen.
Austin Ortega picked up his NCAA-record 11th game-winning goal of the season on Saturday in a 4-2 win over the Tigers. Seven other college players had held the previous record of 10 game-winners in a single campaign, with the last coming back in 2002.
His latest game-clinching goal couldn’t have come at a much better time, as he found a way past CC goaltender Tyler Marble with 1:55 remaining in Saturday’s game at CenturyLink Center. The goal was Ortega’s team-leading 18th of the season.
Omaha will play host to St. Cloud State next weekend in the first round of the postseason.
Denver, St. Cloud share spoils
The Denver Pioneers locked up the No. 4 seed in the NCHC playoffs thanks to one win from two games this weekend at St. Cloud State.
SCSU finished sixth in the league’s regular season standings, but they opened their last weekend before the playoffs with a loss. The Huskies didn’t allow DU to open up much separation in the game, which was tied 2-2 early in the third period, but an Adam Plant goal at 5:54 of that frame stood up as the game-winner for the Pioneers.
St. Cloud then returned the favor on Saturday by handing DU a 4-2 loss in the teams’ regular-season finale. Three SCSU goals in the second period – two from Jonny Brodzinski and another from David Morley – proved too much for DU to overcome despite a third-period comeback.
DU will host Minnesota-Duluth in the first round of the playoffs. Denver and UMD finished just two points apart in the final NCHC regular season standings.