Back to even
North Dakota got even last weekend … in more ways than one.
The Fighting Sioux, three-time defending MacNaughton Cup winners entering the season, were forced to watch Wisconsin come in this season and take it away from them. But revenge can be the trump card sometimes, and last weekend may have been one of them.
Behind a stellar offensive effort from the Sioux’s top line — especially tourney MVP Lee Goren — North Dakota downed Wisconsin 5-3 to win the Broadmoor Trophy as the winner of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five.
That win left the teams’ season series at 2-2 — North Dakota won both tournament meetings and the Badgers took both regular-season games.
And, coupled with Michigan’s loss in the CCHA semifinals, it put the Sioux in the No. 2 spot in the West Regional, meaning they have the same first-round bye as the Badgers.
More on this, and St. Cloud State’s trip to Albany, N.Y., this weekend, later. But there are always interesting tidbits that come out of the Final Five weekend. Here’s a few of them:
U so close
The reason it might be painful for Minnesota to watch the NCAA proceedings at Mariucci Arena this weekend is the realization that the Gophers were very close to taking part.
A win over St. Cloud in Saturday’s consolation game may have given the Gophers the last spot in the tournament. Don’t ask me why; it’s all because of the criteria the NCAA selection committee uses to choose the 12-team field.
There’s no W in goaltender
If, as the WCHA coaches predicted a few weeks back, goaltending will decide the playoffs, the league may want to turn its head this weekend.
Not that the netminding in the league is subpar, but in the NCAA tournament, the experience of winning just isn’t there.
None of the four goaltenders who may play for WCHA teams this weekend (you have to count two for North Dakota) has a win in NCAA play.
Karl Goehring was in goal for each of North Dakota’s losses in the quarterfinals in the last two years. Andy Kollar got his first playoff experience last weekend.
Wisconsin’s Graham Melanson has only been to the tournament once, and two years ago, New Hampshire defeated the Badgers in the first round.
Scott Meyer and his St. Cloud State teammates haven’t even come close to the tournament.
Overall, that’s 0-3. And that’ll have to change if the league wants to get a team to the Frozen Four.