1. MacNaughton going home
Michigan Tech clinched a share of the MacNaughton Cup as the WCHA’s regular-season champion on Saturday night after beating Northern Michigan 5-1 and after co-champion Minnesota State lost 1-0 to Bemidji State. While the Mavericks picked up their second-straight title, the Huskies are getting the cup for the first time in 40 years. Michigan Tech is the 103-year-old trophy’s trustee, so getting it back in Houghton, even for part of the next year, is undoubtedly special for the program. “I’m really proud of our players,” Tech coach Mel Pearson said. “We’ve had a great regular season, and I’m really, really proud of how we finished things off.” The Huskies, who have the No. 1 seed for the WCHA tournament, thanks to the tiebreaker over Minnesota State, have won five games in a row and have just one loss in 2016, a span of 14 games. They will host Alaska in next week’s best-of-three series. Minnesota State, the second seed, will host Lake Superior State.
2. Home ice for Ferris
Ferris State leapfrogged over Northern Michigan on Friday night with a win over Lake Superior State and held on to that fourth and final home-ice playoff spot on Saturday despite dropping the second game against the Lakers. Northern Michigan dropped both games to Michigan Tech to finish fifth. The Bulldogs will host the Wildcats for a chance to get back to the Final Five, which will be played in their backyard of Grand Rapids, Mich. In a cool moment on Friday, Ferris State honored retiring equipment manager Ben Mumah before the game. He had been on the bench with the Bulldogs for 33 years. The other team with home-ice advantage next weekend is Bowling Green, which will host Bemidji State. The third-place Falcons split their series at Alabama Huntsville, with Friday’s stunning 7-5 loss to the 10th-place chargers taking them out of contention for a regular-season championship.
3. Playoff in Alaska
The biggest series of the weekend took place in Fairbanks, Alaska, where the Alaska Nanooks not only won the Governor’s Cup over rival Alaska Anchorage but also jumped over the Seawolves to claim the WCHA’s final playoff spot. A four-point weekend from senior Tyler Morely, who had missed the team’s previous six games, had to help the Nanooks get out of the basement. He was one of the WCHA’s leading scorers before getting injured. Now he makes them a potentially dangerous team heading into the playoffs. “Extremely proud of this group,” Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson said. “We talked about it for the last few weeks here, just about pushing and pushing and sticking together and finding ways. Extremely proud of our team an dhow they kept it together and stayed on it.” Anchorage, meanwhile, will sit out the league playoffs for the second year in a row. It lost seven of its last eight games. Alabama Huntsville is the other odd team out, finishing last despite getting points in all but one of its final seven series.