The third regular season of NCHC hockey is in the books. Here are a few of the bigger talking points from the final weekend before the playoffs begin next weekend:
North Dakota wins Penrose Cup outright
To claim sole ownership of the NCHC regular season title, all North Dakota needed this weekend was one point at home against Western Michigan. UND didn’t waste much time getting that and then some.
The Fighting Hawks already had one hand on the Penrose Cup, but the other latched on Friday night when UND tagged Western with an 8-1 defeat. UND scored each of the game’s first five goals, and freshman standout Brock Boeser finished the game with two of them plus an assist.
Saturday’s rematch in Grand Forks, N.D., saw UND experience a greater struggle in a 5-4 win over the Broncos. WMU jumped out to a 3-1 lead in Saturday’s first period before UND needed a Drake Caggiula’s eventual game-winning goal 5:34 into the third period.
Top-seeded UND will host Colorado College next weekend in the first round of the NCHC playoffs, while Western hits the road again to take on No. 2 seed St. Cloud State
Duluth wins right to stay at home
The biggest league series this weekend that didn’t have a trophy up for grabs took place in Duluth, Minn., where Minnesota-Duluth swept Miami to earn home ice in the first round of the league playoffs.
Duluth’s opponent next weekend at the Amsoil Arena? The same team UMD just defeated twice and three times in total so far this season.
The Bulldogs gained the upper hand in their latest series against Miami on Friday when UMD pasted the RedHawks 5-0. Five different Duluth skaters found the back of the Miami net, while Kasimir Kaskisuo stopped all 20 shots he faced at the other end of the ice.
Duluth then prevailed again in Saturday’s rematch, this time handing Miami a 3-1 defeat. The teams entered Saturday’s second period tied at 1-1 before Charlie Sampair and Alex Iafallo scored in the third to allow UMD to take all six points from the series.
Omaha’s late-season struggles continue
A Frozen Four participant last season, Omaha finds its NCAA tournament hopes this time around even more unstable after a pair of road losses to Denver this weekend.
UNO’s 3-0 loss inside Magness Arena on Friday and a 2-1 defeat to the Pioneers in Saturday’s rematch saw the Mavericks’ current losing streak stretch to six games. Also worrying for UNO is the fact that the Mavs are now 4-12 in their past 16 games.
They sit in 15th place in the PairWise Rankings ahead of next week’s first round of the NCHC playoffs. UNO’s opening-round foe? Denver, currently tied for sixth in the PairWise, back in the Colorado capital.