Weekend of March 4-5

As the final weekend always is, that was a fun weekend of hockey. It’s also enjoyable when it comes down to the last games in play to figure out seeding for the playoffs … which of course we now know.

Let’s recap, shall we?

Minnesota took three from Bemidji State
– On Friday, Brad Hunt scored with 19 seconds left in the third to tie the game for the Beavers who then held on through the extra frame for a 3-3 tie.
– BSU also lost captain Matt Read to injury in the game.
– UM’s Patrick White scored two goals; one to start it off 94 seconds in and one to put the Gophers up late.
– On Saturday, the game went to overtime again, but Nick Bjugstad potted his third of the series 20 seconds in to give the Gophers a 3-2 win.
– He also got the goal to start the third period rally, as BSU was up 2-0 going into the frame.
“It felt like a pond hockey game for a little while,” BSU coach Frank Serratore told the Bemidji Pioneer‘s Eric Stromgren. “It was race horse hockey and pretty wide open. When you play wide open with Minnesota they eventually are going to convert. We had a 2-0 lead and that’s the thing that frustrates you as a coach.”
– Matt Read also sat out Saturday’s game – his first full game out since he started as a Beaver (143 games and a D-1 program record 139 points).
– Another fun fact: prior to Saturday’s game, the Beavers hadn’t lost in 49 games when leading after two.

St. Cloud State and Denver split
– Friday was a back and forth game, with SCSU taking the upper hand, gaining a 3-2 win thanks to an Aaron Marvin goal with 1:36 remaining.
– Not that DU didn’t make it interesting; Luke Salazar one-timed a shot late that clanged off the post.
– On Saturday, the score was identical, but the results reversed – DU ended up on top, 3-2.
– The teams exchanged goals in the first two periods (DU first, SCSU second), but then DU scored two within the first seven minutes of the third to take a 3-1 lead and held on despite a late Husky power play goal with three minutes left.
“I couldn’t ask for a more challenging series to prepare us for the playoffs,” Pioneer coach George Gwozdecky told the Denver Post‘s Mike Chambers. “St. Cloud is arguably the hottest team in our league, maybe the hottest team in the West. They’re really good and to prepare us for a playoff round, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Alaska-Anchorage swept Minnesota State
– I thought that this maybe possibly could happen when doing picks, but didn’t let the thought get vocalized. Oops.
– On Friday, the Seawolves spread out the scoring among all three periods and Nick Haddad scored two for a 4-0 victory.
– Chris Kamal stopped 35 shots for his second shutout of the season.
– For the Maverick netminders, life wasn’t so pretty. Austin Lee was yanked after the third UAA goal (so about 7:30 into the second) in favor of Phil Cook.
“You can’t give up three goals on eight shots,” MSU coach Troy Jutting told the Mankato Free Press‘s Shane Frederick (who added a note that it ended up being 11 shots according to the final stats). “And you can’t have 35 shots and not score. It’s a disaster.”
– On Saturday, it was Tommy Grant with a two-goal performance to help the Seawolves win 4-1 for their first road sweep of the season.
– The lone Maverick goal came from senior Brett Peterson … who was playing in his third game in four years at MSU. The goal was the first of his career.
– Kamal was in net again for the Seawolves, stopping 31 shots (66 of 67 total on the weekend.
“Another player of the week (award) for the goalie who played against us,” Jutting remarked to Frederick after the game.
– Fun fact for the Seawolves, courtesy of the Anchorage Daily News‘s Doyle Woody:
UAA’s .464 winning percentage in WCHA games this season is the second-best in the program’s 18 seasons in the league. UAA went 14-16-2 in its inaugural WCHA season in 1993-94 for a .469 winning percentage.

North Dakota swept Michigan Tech
– In preview number one of next weekend’s playoff series.
– The result wasn’t surprising, but the final goal output was: the Sioux outscored the Huskies 17-3 on the weekend.
– Ouch.
– Six different Sioux scored on Friday in UND’s 6-1 victory.
– The game was close for a while, as it was a 1-1 game for about 34 minutes. Then, the Sioux scored three goals in 3:42 to pull away and take the game with them.
– On Saturday, the Sioux opened it up, scoring on their first shot and winning 11-2. Jason Gregoire had a hat trick and both Brett Hextall and Brock Nelson scored two.
– All three MTU goaltenders got playing time. Josh Robinson was yanked 4:39 in after the Sioux made it 4-1. Corson Cramer and Kevin Genoe split time to cover the rest of the game.
– Of note: Chay Genoway played in Saturday’s game for the first time in eight games, since being injured Jan. 28 at CC.
– Also of note: Brad Eidsness played on Saturday, getting his second win of the season.

Minnesota-Duluth and Nebraska-Omaha split
– The Bulldogs got their second win in seven games as well as their third consecutive 20-win season on Friday, beating the Mavericks 4-1.
“We actually worked hard for 60 minutes and showed what we could do,” forward Travis Oleksuk told USCHO’s Kevin Pates. “That was basically our problem. We weren’t working hard from start to finish.” Oleksuk had two goals for the Bulldogs.
– The game was the first ever meeting between the two head coaches (UMD’s Scott Sandelin; UNO’s Dean Blais) who had coached together at North Dakota.
– On Saturday, helped out by Terry Broadhurst’s two goals, UNO won 5-2 to hop over UMD in the standings and finish third in the league.
“We could tell right away from the start of the game – as soon as they dropped the puck, we were ready to go,” Blais told Pates.

Colorado College and Wisconsin split
– In preview number two of next weekend’s playoffs series.
– On Friday, CC went ahead and clinched home ice right away, refusing to prolong any waiting, by winning 3-2 thanks to two goals in the final five minutes.
– “I am prepared for a marathon, but I am glad it’s going to be at 6,200 feet,” CC coach Scott Owens told USCHO’s Benjamin Worgull after the game.
– On Saturday, the Badgers broke a seven-game winless streak, winning 3-1. The victory gave the Badgers their 20th of the season.
– It also helped that Scott Gudmandson seemed back up to form for the Badgers.
“He was excellent. He made some unbelievable saves, but the thing that was most impressive from the bench was his rebound control,” UW coach Mike Eaves told Worgull. “Any shots that were up in his chest, around his arm padding, he just controlled like he was a Hoover vacuum cleaner.”

Playoff Seedings
Even though we’ll go into this in a lot more detail later this week …
1. UND vs. 12. MTU
2. DU vs. 11. MSU
3. UNO vs. 10. BSU
4. UMD vs. 9. SCSU
5. UM vs. 8. UAA
6. CC vs. 7. UW

WCHA teams in the PairWise Rankings
UND – 3rd
DU – 5th
UNO – t-6th
UMD – t-10th
CC – t-14th
UM - t-18th
SCSU – 20th
UW - 23rd
UAA – 24th
MSU – t-26th