Three things I thought I learned about the WCHA this weekend …
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Series splits all around conference play this weekend, so the league’s three races (for first place, home ice and final playoff spot) remain bunched up. First-place Ferris State gave itself some cushion over Minnesota State by getting two points at Michigan Tech. The Bulldogs lead the Mavericks by four points, and both teams have played 18 games and have two games in hand on the next three teams—Bowling Green, Alaska Anchorage and Bemdiji State. Those three teams are in the hunt for a top-four spot, but Northern Michigan, currently sixth with 17 points, has four games in hand on them. With eight of the 10 teams making the playoffs, Lake Superior, Michigan Tech and Alaska are all tied for seventh, although the Nanooks have played two more games than the Lakers and Huskies.
Looking at the box scores from the weekend and seeing that Ferris State shut out Michigan Tech on Saturday, I figured C.J. Motte got back on track after losing three games in a row. But it wasn’t Motte in goal; it was Charles Williams getting the 25-save shutout for his first win of the season. As I mentioned above, that was a huge game for the Bulldogs in the race for the MacNaughton Cup. In Fairbanks, Alaska’s Sean Cahill and Bemidji State’s Andrew Walsh recorded back-to-back shutouts in that series split, while in Anchorage, the Seawolves’ Chris Kamal and Northern Michigan’s Mathias Dahlstrom split solid solid performances.
North Star goes south
Minnesota State went 0-2 at the inaugural North Star College Cup tournament featuring four of Minnesota’s five Division I teams at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Mavericks scored four goals each game, normally a recipe for their success. But they allowed 11 goals to Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State, hurting their chance to move up in the Pairwise Rankings. Two weeks ago at Anchorage, the Mavericks couldn’t buy a goal. This week, they couldn’t stop a puck. In between was that great weekend against Ferris State. Is it a home-away thing for MSU or just a lack of consistency?