It’s Final Five time, after seeing the crowds at Joe Louis Arena for the first day of the Big Ten tournament, it will be interesting to see just how many people show up to the Xcel Energy Center to see the mighty WCHA. No matter who’s in the crowd, I’d expect some pretty good competition, as Jack wrote about in our column this week. There’s no doubt, the event features the new stars of the WCHA.
Top-seeded Minnesota State and second-seeded Tech are locks for the NCAA Tournament, but third-seeded Bowling Green and fifth-seeded Ferris’ fates are uncertain. BG is a bubble team and would prefer some wins. Ferris needs to win both games and win the Broadmoor Trophy to return to the NCAAs.
Who’s going to win? Here’s who we think will come out on top:
No. 2 Michigan Tech vs. No. 3 Bowling Green, 4:07 p.m. CDT Friday
Shane: These two teams split a series in Houghton in mid-January, a good result for both teams, considering the way they had been playing. Since then, the Falcons have gone 9-6-1, slipping a bit but holding their own, while the Huskies have gone 12-1-1. Tech is red-hot, and I think that continues on Friday night, even if the game means more, Pairwise-wise, to BGSU. Huskies 4, Falcons 2
Jack: Although the Huskies are a tournament lock, they still have lots to play for. Two wins and there’s a big possibility Tech earns a No. 1 seed in a regional. And Tech head coach Mel Pearson was adamant that the Huskies are still underdogs – they haven’t won any titles yet and have a lot to prove to the college hockey world. The Falcons, meanwhile, are a bubble team and a win Friday would certainly increase their chances of making the tournament. The teams split a pair of one goal games this season and I wouldn’t expect anything less here. It’s a coin flip, but I say BG wins to lift itself further off the bubble. Falcons 4, Huskies 3
No. 1 Minnesota State vs. No. 5 Ferris State, 7:37 p.m. CDT Friday
Shane: If there is a crowd this weekend, it should be fairly pro-MSU, which is just 90 minutes or so down the road. The Mavericks are the defending champs and won the MacNaughton Cup. More importantly, they seem to have the Bulldogs’ number, sweeping the four-game series this year to make seven straight wins over Ferris State. That includes last year’s Broadmoor Trophy title game. That won’t change. Mavericks 4, Bulldogs 1
Jack: Ferris is one of the hottest teams in the country at the moment — going 7-1-1 in the last nine games — but just can’t seem to beat the Mavericks. Even with CJ Motte in net, I cna’t see anything slowing down MSU this time, either. Mavericks 3, Bulldogs 1
Broadmoor Trophy championship game, 6:07 p.m. CDT Saturday
Shane: I have Minnesota State vs. Michigan Tech for the final, and, if that happens, it should be a heck of a game. The teams played four excellent games against each other this season, with MSU winning three with a tie in the mix, too. There’s another trend for the Mavericks that I’ll stick with for the weekend. Mavericks 4, Huskies 3
Jack: I, on the other hand, picked MSU vs. Bowling Green. It’s hard to tell what this game will be like on paper, since the last time the teams played was Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, where they split. But having seen both teams in the second half of the season, I think there’s a reason why the Falcons are on the bubble and the Mavs are almost a lock for a No. 1 seed. I think MSU will repeat as Broadmoor Tropy champions, but it should be enough for the Falcons to sneak into the NCAA tournament. Mavericks 4, Falcons 2