Stop me if you’ve heard this one before
Lake Superior State coach Jim Roque called it a broken record last week, and it indeed that vinyl skipped again this week. The standings are tight! … The standings are tight! … The standings are tight! (ad infinitum)
Here’s what we know: Ferris State and Minnesota State will finish 1-2 (likely, but not necessarily, in that order), and Alabama-Huntsville will finish 10th. Spots 3-9? Well, a lot can happen over the next two weeks, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the WCHA have to go deep into its tiebreaking rules to set the seedings for the conference tournament.
And speaking of Lake Superior, it helped its cause with a pair of close wins at Huntsville, propelling itself from ninth place to a tie for fifth.
Final Five teams will earn their way in
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The WCHA made things very interesting when it scrapped that silly “Alaska Plan” and instead, after adding Alabama-Huntsville to the league, decided to toss the bottom two teams from the postseason.
Not only is this making that race for eighth as interesting as the race for home ice (and every team that’s involved in one is involved in the other), but it will make for some tough first-round matchups in the tournament. If Ferris State wins the league, it won’t get a bye to the Final Five (as it would have under the Alaska Plan) but it won’t get to beat up on one-win Huntsville, either.
It might get Michigan Tech, a team that’s in third place right now. It might get Bemidji State, a team, like Tech, that has beaten the Bulldogs this season. That’s not an easy road — even at home.
Don’t blame the refs
Northern Michigan is now the team in that unenviable ninth-place spot after getting swept by rival Michigan Tech, including a 3-2 loss in Marquette on Saturday. In that game, the Wildcats had two close calls on goals that didn’t go their way. On one, the puck went in but an early whistle negated the score.
Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle, according to The Mining Journal, didn’t blame the officials for slipping up in such an important game. Right?
“You can’t fault an official who struggles to skate, when he doesn’t get in position to read the play,” he said. “He didn’t get down where he needs to be on the goal line and consequently, he didn’t see the puck was out of the goalie’s pad and behind the goalie. When you watch it on film, there should have never been a whistle, but he couldn’t get down there, and you can’t fault him for not being able to skate.”