Final Five is set

It wasn’t until the clock neared midnight (ET) Sunday when Michigan Tech found out it will play Denver Thursday afternoon and North Dakota learned it will play St. Cloud State in primetime when Luke Salazar’s wrap-around goal in overtime sent the Pioneers to St. Paul for the Final Five.

After a typically dramatic weekend of WCHA playoff hockey, here are your Final Five matchups:

Michigan Tech and Denver will square off in Thursday’s 2 p.m. quarterfinal with the winner to play Minnesota-Duluth in Friday’s 2 p.m. semifinal.

St. Cloud State and North Dakota meet in the Thursday evening semifinal at 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to face Minnesota in Friday’s second semifinal at 7 p.m.

If Wisconsin would’ve won, it would’ve played UND Thursday afternoon with SCSU and Michigan Tech playing the nightcap.

Lower seeds unwilling to go down quietly, if at all

After nearly five months and 168 games to determine this past weekend’s first round playoff “favorites”, the WCHA’s bottom six inevitably neglected to read the memo outlining the way things were supposed to play out. When the dust settled, the field for this week’s Final Five was set but not without some tension-filled moments for the league’s top seeds.

No.12-seeded Alaska-Anchorage gave top-seeded Minnesota all it could handle in falling 2-1 on Friday and  surged to a 3-1 lead midway through Saturday’s game before the Gophers stormed back to win 7-3 behind Erik Haula’s four-point night (2-2–4). Turnabout is fair play for the Gophers who were swept by the Seawolves at Mariucci Arena to open last season’s conference playoffs.

11th-seeded Minnesota State essentially lost a pair of one-goal games in Duluth as No. 2-seeded UMD’s 4-2 margin in the series opener was aided by Wade Bergman’s empty netter. The Mavericks then took the Bulldogs to overtime on Saturday before dropping a 3-2 heartbreaker to UMD on Mike Seidel’s goal at 4:07 of the second extra session.

As Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press points out, this is the third straight season Minnesota State has been eliminated in overtime and seven of MSU’s last 12 playoff games have gone to OT with the Mavs  going 2-5 in those contests. On the other hand, Kevin Pates of the Duluth News-Tribune will tell you that prior to last night, UMD had been taken to a game 3 in four of the last five first-round playoff series it had hosted since 1998.

No.10-seeded Wisconsin and third-seeded Denver combined for one goal through the first five periods of their series with the lone tally being Sean Little’s third-period game winner for the Badgers on Friday. The Pioneers ultimately won Saturday’s third period 3-1 but only after Nick Shore’s goal into an empty net with 56 seconds to play sealed it for DU and extend the series to a deciding third game. The Badgers and Pioneers traded goals on Sunday and UW led 2-1 heading into the third period. But Nick Shore’s power-play goal for Denver at 2:o1 of the third period eventually sent the game to overtime where Luke Salazar won it for the Pioneers just 1:40 into the extra session.

After topping ninth-seeded Bemidji State 4-1 on Friday, No.4-seeded North Dakota led by the same score after Dillon Simpson’s goal five minutes into the Saturday’s third period. But the Sioux had to withstand a furious BSU rally—led by Jamie McQueen’s two goals 17 seconds apart with less than four minutes to play— to hang on for a 4-3 win.

In St. Cloud, the No.6-seeded Huskies won handily on Friday by a 4-0 score over seventh-seeded Nebraska-Omaha but the teams were tied 1-1 heading into the third on Saturday. But St. Cloud State’s Ben Hanowski’s goal with 43 seconds left and Travis Novak’s empty-net goal with one tick remaining on the clock gave SCSU a 3-1 win.

Which brings us to …

Colorado anything but rocky for Michigan Tech in postseason play

With consecutive 3-1 and 4-3 (in overtime) wins over No.5-seeded Colorado College, eighth-seeded Michigan Tech is heading to the Final Five for the first time since 2007 when the Huskies, ironically, took two of three from the Tigers on the road.

With only two seasons of data, and just one postseason remaining to add to it, considering MTU’s elimination of CC a WCHA trend after UAA won last season’s five vs. eight matchup over Minnesota is a stretch. What could be considered trendy, however, is the fact that the Huskies are 0-28 in regular season games at CC’s World Arena but have won four of five postseason games in the Tigers’ lair.

WCHA Coach of the Year Mel Pearson might have made his best coaching move yet in keeping his team in Colorado for the week rather than returning to Houghton after the Huskies were swept by the Tigers (5-2, 2-0) to close out the regular season. As a contributing factor to MTU’s first playoff advancement in five years, a week of acclimation to the altitude and Olympic-sized rink should not be underrated.

Future MTU opponents should beware that it would be wise to take the Huskies out in regulation as Michigan Tech is undefeated (4-0-4) in eight overtime games this season.

SCSU’s Lee has to be solid for the Huskies to make a run…

… and lately, he’s resembled a brick wall between the pipes. It was uncertain whether or not St. Cloud State junior goaltender, Mike Lee, would be able to help the Huskies make a playoff run when he had to undergo hip surgery back in October. Lee recovered ahead of schedule and made his return to the crease Jan. 27 at Minnesota.

Goaltending is often the cornerstone of successful team in the postseason and Lee is playing solid enough right now to give SCSU the chance to win three games at the Final Five and get a No. 4 seed in the national tournament.

In the 10 games since he returned, Lee has stopped 306 of 323 shots (.947 save percentage) and has allowed just 1.70 goals per game in that stretch. He gave up one goal on 60 shots this weekend against Nebraska-Omaha.

He’ll face North Dakota, Thursday, a team he’s struggled against throughout his career with an .878 save percentage through seven games. Lee hasn’t faced UND this season.


    • Well… if that happens it will be the FIRST TIME EVER that WMU would pull it off at Yost. Here are some facts:

      1. The last time Michigan was swept by WMU in a consecutive regular season series was 2/21-22/86 and that was a H& H series. The next time was in a playoff series in K-zoo in 1988 when Michigan won the 1st game of a best of three and lost the next two. 

      2. Michigan’s longest losing streak to WMU (dating back to the series opener in 1979) was 6 games from 2/85-2/86. They lost 9 of 10 games thru 1/87. 

      3. Michigan went 14-0-3 against WMU between 2/3/89 and 10/30/92

      4. Michigan went 7-0-1 between 11/27/92-2/3/95 and 11-0-4 between 12/4/-96 and 1/20/01. 

      5. Since 10/19/01 Michigan is 22-5 against WMU with the 5 losses in 01, 03, 06,08 and in last season’s CCHA semi final. The last win at Yost was in 2008. 

      6. Michigan is 40-11-2 at Yost against WMU all time and are 67-27-10 all time, anywhere.

      I think WMU has risen from the ashes and proved it last year. But to say they’ll come into Yost and sweep… well I think you are confusing Halloween with April Fools Day. :)

      Go Blue!

        • The CCHA makes the schedule.  As much as we’d like to blame SCum for this, it wasn’t their decision.

          We just need to get all the Bronco fans to travel to Ann Arbor this weekend.

          • Exactly- blame having 11 teams, too. WMU will have their shot next season, probably hosting two games in K-zoo. 

            Love all the chatter. Great to have relevant teams in Michigan other than in A2 and EL. NMU, Ferris, LSSU and WMU  all are playing well and kudos to M-Tech as well. Makes beating them all the sweeter.

          • I love the chatter, too, streaker. In addition to the teams you mentioned, I’d throw Bowling Green into the mix and OSU is no slouch this year, either.  Very exciting season shaping up for CCHA hockey.

          • and UM fans are basing theirs on history too…history is meaningless in this game especially with all the roster changes in college sports. WMU just does not get respect because it is a mid-major school in all other sports and was awful under Culhane. But hockey is not a mid-major for WMU and Culhane era is dead.

          • Right now all you have is talk. Regular season is only four weeks old and you guys act like you have arrived. Since meaningless stats seem to rev you up, here is another one: Michigan has won 19 straight games at Yost and 20 on home ice including the Big Chill. That was within the last year- so it is relevant. We aren’t just living in the past when banners are still being raised and the program is still winning in the NCAA tourney- beating elite teams like North Dakota along the way. 

          • I don’t think it’s true that WMU isn’t respected because it’s a mid-major school in all other sports.  I think schools become respected in college hockey when they’ve established themselves over a period of time.  Colorado College comes to mind as does Clarkson (which was fearsome for a long time and has carried that residual respect and benefit of the doubt since).  Lots of the so-called “little” schools make up the fabric of college hockey, and many of them have gained tremendous respect.

            I also think it’s incorrect to say that people don’t respect Western Michigan.  Every CCHA fan who’s followed college hockey for even a couple of years sees what WMU has done in just one season.  Most fans welcome it because it’s good for the sport; everyone is watching to see how long it is sustained.  Look at Miami now.  They’re at the bottom of the standings but no one will count them completely out before midseason, and even if the RedHawks have a down year, everyone will expect them to bounce back and be competitive — because that’s what Blasi has built there.  

            History isn’t meaningless.  That carried history counts for everything from the respect Western fans claim they’re not getting to a program’s ability to recruit top players.  It will certainly count for something when both teams take the ice Friday in Yost Arena.  Both of those squads know the shared history of those teams, and that — in part — will motivate their play.  

          • and Miami won the CCHA tourney, Michigan won the CCHA regular season and played in the NC game. 

            Kids these days…

          • Michigan won the CCHA regular season, but was helped greatly when WMU beat Notre Dame in the last weekend. How about we let THIS season decide who’s the better team?

        • Is that all you have? One semi final win? UNO did that too, ya know and they have the same number of CCHA banners you have. You talk about living in the past and I am talking about your fans living off of one win. What about the other two games played last season? 

          Yep, Michigan stunk in the 70’s & 80’s- where was your program before 1979? Glad to see that WMU’s program is back, good for the rivalry, good for the trash talking.  Stop taking this so seriously… really.

      • Typical UofM comment looking historically, pulling out ALL the overall records versus present day. Blah, Blah Blah.  Arrogance Arbor forgets until they hired Berenson, Michigan stunk.  Blashill and now Murray have brought a new level of play that Michigan isn’t used to seeing out of WMU.

        Michigan might win more points this weekend, but it’s not likely it’s the last time these 2 teams play this year.  

  1. I hope the Broncos can keep this kind of level headed play into Yost this weekend, and for that matter for the rest of the season… and stay healthy…U of M seems to take penalties..especially after NMU on that Friday and with Ferris on Saturday. U of M is usually very disciplined and taking Chris Frank penaltiies, no matter how cool never wins games.   I do miss Frank the Tank hitting a Wolverine.

    • You made a spelling error. “taking Chris Frank penalties” should have been “taking Shawn Hunwick penalties.”

      If WMU can draw first blood, they’ll get in Hunwick’s head and destroy the wolverines. I can only hope that the BEST team wins, since it’s sure to be a great series between two elite teams.

  2. Comparing past WMU teams and their records to this one is apples and oranges.  In the past, Western would pull off an occasional upset.  Now, I don’t think there is much dispute they are at least as good as Michigan. If the Wolverines would ever go to Kalamazoo this would be a WMU sweep.  In Ann Arbor, it’s a split and more respect for the Broncos.

    • Really? One year makes your program? Try doing it for… say 20 years straight in the NCAA’s. Try hanging some banners or winning a NCAA game or two. Nothing will be really settled this weekend. Just a battle for six points. 

      • Obviously one year does not define a program. The fact of the matter remains that it is year 2011 and the last 20 years means NOTHING and people in Ann Arbor need to stop using this pathetic excuse as a defense. It is time for U of M hockey fans to wake up and accept the possibility that their program might not be the best, even in the their own state. Your also right that it is only a battle for six points, but if giving up six points is fine with you, than okay, the people of Kalamazoo will gladly take those off your hands for you. Look forward to seeing you this weekend in Ann Arbor.

        • Last 20 years means nothing? Countless CCHA banners, GLI championships, Frozen Fours and two NC’s mean nothing? 

          I bet it means more than the zeros the Broncos have put up. 

          Another fan base writing checks on a program that has improved but hasn’t accomplished nothing yet.

          • Let me first start off by saying that what Red Berenson has done the last twenty-one years is nothing short of extraordinary. In my opinion it is one of the greatest accomplishments of all-time, in any NCAA sport, and I would never knowingly undermine this feat. 

            My argument is simply that, while impressive, this accomplishment has no weight on the current 2011 season. Teams are rarely comprised of the same roster as previous years, which holds true for both the University of Michigan and Western Michigan. So to use this argument is ludicrous and I think we can all agree on that. Why is it so hard to believe Western Michigan has the talent and drive to compete with a perennial powerhouse, just because of the lack of tradition.

            Well, I’ll leave you both to ponder this. There was a time when Yost had no banners and Michigan held no accolades. Over the years they built a prestige and tradition, that is all Western Michigan is trying to accomplish itself. Western has stressed that it wishes to become a national force to be reckoned with. The great thing about sports is at some point and time, there will be a changing of the guard, it does happen. This is why the argument of accomplishments of years past guarantees results to carry over into present day is insane.

            Disputes aside, this weekends matchup will be sure to produce amazing hockey and the players in the end will do the talking. So the answer is no, no checks will be written on a program that hasn’t accomplished anything, as long as none are written soley because a program has.

        • Kyle, I have to disagree with you.  I think the program that Berenson has established at Michigan is extraordinary — and I think every coach in the nation would agree.  That twenty years is quite a run in any sport.

          The Broncos are clearly headed in the right direction.  I’m excited about their prospects.

  3. The USCHO editors want you to talk about Lake Superior State’s resurgence, Paula. They have the Lakers’ goalie, Kevin Kapalka, on the front page while your blog post doesn’t mention them at all for some reason.

    • David, the Monday blogs across the site pick three things that emerged from the weekend.  There’s also a weekly column and blogs for the weekend’s picks.  In other words, complaining Monday about what didn’t get mentioned from the previous weekend is a little premature, since there are at least two other articles about the CCHA coming this week.

      I devoted a column to LSSU and NMU a couple of weeks ago; I try to rotate column focus throughout the eleven teams in the league while still keeping it timely.  

      The three things that I wrote about this weekend are the three things that seemed most emergent to me.  Not to diminish what the Lakers accomplished against Miami, but it’s becoming clearer each week that this may not be the Miami team of a season ago, the Miami team to beat.  The Lakers are starting fast, without question, but four of those wins were against UAH and MSU — two teams that I do not expect to see anywhere near NCAA contention at the end of the year.  

      • So you don’t mention the Lakers due to four of their wins coming against UAH and MSU, but you talk every week about how amazing Michigan is even though four of their wins came against Niagara, Bentley, and St. Lawrence – three teams that no one expects to see anywhere near NCAA contention.  How about Western’s four wins over UAH and Union – once again two teams not likely to be NCAA contenders.  Lets not forget Ferris State and their six wins over the power houses that are St. Lawrence, Renesselaer, and that Miami team whose bandwagon you’ve quickly jumped off of.  Your argument for not even mentioning LSSU holds as much water as the sieves that Knapp and Reichard have become.

        • My response was to clarify the way I saw the weekend.  As I said, I wrote about what seemed most emergent from this specific weekend.  

          And, as always, I remain fascinated with the way in which some fans are quick to jump to the conclusion that I am anti-[fill-in-the-team’s-name] because I didn’t cover what those fans deem most important.  

          • So you didn’t think it was worth mentioning Lake Superior State won their 6th and 7th game in October this weekend, and that they are currently leading the CCHA?  Instead you once again feel compelled to remind us just how impressive Michigan’s offense is like you do every week.  If you’re trying to mix things up try writing an article in which you don’t mention Michigan, because that’s something we’ve yet to see from you.

  4. The fact that you didn’t mention LSSU, one of the great stories in college hockey in the month of October, truly shows how much of a joke and major college hockey homer you are.

    Yeah Paula… we get it. You love UofM

  5. wow..i take the chirping as evidence that WMU has definitely turned the corner…I don’t think Bronco fans could have gotten this reaction out blo-guers in year’s past…I see this weekend as a toss-up pure and simple with no expectations other than a great series between evenly matched teams….

  6. WMU isn’t concerned about playing ScrewM any longer, they took care of that last year.  Michigan might win with the HOMER officiating, but Western’s not going away and looks forward to playing Red’s Team on Neutral ice, since they aren’t willing to come to Lawson.

    • As much as we want to blame scUM, the scheduling at Yost Arena this year and last is not their fault.  The CCHA makes the schedule.

  7. Red Berenson is one of the great coaches in college sports, I always give that man respect. He further shows this with his hefty suspension of Merrill, he commands discipline no matter what the talent level is of the individual. As a WMU fan I would be crazy to say Kzoo wouldn’t be excited to have Red as our coach. On the same note, Red does know what he is talking about, last year before the CCHA semi, he said WMU was the last team he wanted to play against…he was proven right. I can’t wait to hear what Red says this weekend. 
    Go Broncos.

  8. I sincerely believe any of these six teams have a decent chance to win this tournament. If any kind-hearted person out there will take my wife and kids for a few days I would be very grateful. Go Gophers!

  9. I think the gophers are the least likely team to win.  They have to play either St. Cloud or ND.  I just don’t see the gophers winning unless the have the refs in their corner…. again!

      • we’ll see who is right….. money is on either ND or St. Cloud.  Maybe even a 3  goal differential.  goofs will not score more than a goal on Lee and ND will just plain outplay the goofs in every facet of the game!

    • All of the refs are always in their corner!!! They gave them two NTs ten years ago and now they are probably going to hand them another one! Just sickening, going to throw my tickets in the garbage -what a waste of time!

      • That 5 on 3 for UAA was a gift, and they cashed in on it. It was their fault from there on out they didn’t hold on or do anything. They were called for a few penalties early on that should not have been, but other than that they were holding the gophers all night long trying to stick with them.

    • Maybe when Blood gave the Gopher a punch while shaking hands. Folks, lets not fool yourself, we can find enough cheap stuff or calls that every team gets. Maybe pull your head out of the sand once in a while!

  10. Pookas….. the second goal by the goofs on Friday night was goalie interference (no Anchorage player touched Hansen and the goalie was in the crease) and the 4th goal (in a 3 -3 game) on Saturday night had Haula flying down the ice with puck on stick (he jumped onto the ice as a replacement for Bjugstad) and unfortunately Bjugstad was not near the player’s bench.  What is the ruling for goalie interference and too many men on the ice and playing the puck?  Why does this stuff seem to favor the goofs in 90% of the cases?  Another point is how did Anchorage have 3 penalties in back-to-back fashion in the second period when the goofs were down 3 -1.  Is the league worreid about ticket sales for the Final Five with no goofs or badgers for that matter?   Sales seem to be fine over the past few yesrs without the goofs and even the badgers….. just a thought my friend

    • so we are just going to ignore all the penalties UAA got away with on Friday and the gift 5 on 3 pp they got on Saturday.  The refs were far from in the Gophs corner.  UAA got 3 penalties in a row because they are not talented enough to play with the Gophers and they were continually clutching and grabbing and committing penalties.

    • What you missed was, Bjugstad was slow to the bench because he got a stick to the head with no penalty called. Actually, if they would have called a penalty, the Gophers score and go on the power play. So, please get your facts straight before you start to talk!

      • Your okay with two no calls in what sounds like should have been two calls for sure? that’s a horrible job of calling the game, and maybe just maybe Haula gets excited with the delayed penality and doesn’t score, then UAA kills off a penality and gains more momentum.  The point is its a bad job by the officials and should be justified because it could have been worse. 

        • Every WCHA game and around all of college hockey has bad calls!  The problem is in every conference and its called poor training and inconsistincy!! 

          North Dakota, Denver, Alaska Anchorage, Maine, Canisus, Bently, Clarkson, BC, Boston University, they all have calls go for them and against them. 

          When your playing at home, you tend to get more calls, thats a fact at every level of sports.

        •  There were 10 blantant non-calls that went against the Gophers in that game.  10!  not questionable, not boardline, but blantant.  Checking from behind on Rau, tripping, 3 interference calls where the players were bearhugged into the boards, and a couple just total takedowns with the puck not even in the same zone.  The officiating was awful.   including the goal call, but frankly he skated into the goalies stick.  Maybe UAA kills of the penalty, but maybe the Gophers score more than 2, if they even get half the powerplays that they should have that night.

          • I never watched the game, but it sounds like you re-watched it to count only the blown calls that never went the way of the goophers… just stick to the point that YOU even made… the officiating was awful.  its has been all year in the WCHA and its wrong and hurts teams.  But anytime a fan of a team that suffered from a bad call complains about it everybody jumps on them. 

        • I would just like to point out the “maybes” in this post. Maybe Kent Patterson get’s a career ending injury the next play if a call is made, maybe UAA goes to the Frozen Four after beating the gophers, maybe Bjugstad gets a double hat trick. STOP USING MAYBES, a good team plays through adversity and doesn’t use it as an excuse.

          • right, there are a ton of legimate maybes that never got to happen because of a poor job by the officials.  UAA was not the better team, I don’t think that at all, but the games were affected both ways by bad calls and non calls. 

    • You just made yourself look like an idiot……  ” Is the league worreid about ticket sales for the Final Five with no goofs”

      Yet you say “Sales seem to be fine over the past few yesrs without the goofs and even the badgers “.

      Yu should be banned for talking on this site….

    • WCHA refs like to control the game to the point where they bring the outcome into their hands.  If you are up by a couple goals they start calling the penalties they have been overlooking all game long on both sides.  If you watched the Sioux game friday they called Kristo for a made up interference call.  Same type of play you see 5-6 times a game and when its 2-0 nows a perfect time to make this a game.  

      On a side note with all this ref conversation.  Shep and anderson are as gopher biased as any refs in the league.  No other team has a striped skater on there team to make timely calls when the going gets tough.  

      • Well obviously you don’t know the whole story…growing up in Duluth when we had shepard or anderson, no matter what team we played, we knew that bad calls where to be made. But that’s ok if it makes you sleep better using all these excuses for why your team can’t beat my team. :)

        • Well you should, back in the day when I watch UMD vs Gophs I used to see the worst homer call ever for the gophs, even if the game was in Duluth.  Just say’n

        • I hear shep and anderson put in there tranfer to the BIG 10.  That way this whole decision on leaving the WCHA will start on a positive note for the rodents. 

    • I also heard that the refs tell the goalies to let the puck into the net as well, it’s pretty amazing what control they have.

  11. People all season have said the Gophers won’t win the WCHA. They win the WCHA. People say they won’t make the NCAA’s. They make the NCAA’s. Then people say Anchorage will take them out in 1st rd. Gophers win series. All you experts  please, please keep making your predictions!!!  Please predict they won’t win Final 5, the West Regonal or the National Championship. You experts, have been so right with your predictions, so far. Go Gophers!!

  12. Honestly it doesn’t matter how the Sioux do. The fact that this Sioux team is playing at a high level with Freshmen and a short bench every night is astounding!! I think everyone in college hockey should be worried about this team come next year. Good Luck

      • almost every post of yours is ripping on the Sioux… we do think of the future thats why we have a strong past and a promising future… we are only losing 3 seniors.  Getting our top two recruits from last year back from injuries, and a very promising goalie…

        • agreed, but when you look at the Gophers (the last time I checked stats was a week ago sorry) 100 out of their 127 goals were from freshman and sophomores and we are only graduating 5 seniors. I think this rivalry is going to be fun the next couple of years!

          • I wish the rivlary would continue, the gophers refuse to schedule a non conference game against us.  And as I have stated before, your gophers seem to have more of a problem than most teams holding on to talent.  Its like some NHL teams don’t like the way Don develops talent. 

          • Thats a great discussion, I am praying for the big 4: Knight, Kristo, Dell and McWilliams to come back… who do you think is leaving?

        • This post was actually sticking up for the Sioux players…  Not one of those players are looking forward to next year.  They are looking to win this year!!!

      • And UND has the best record in the country since thanksgiving and has play just under half of those games without being able to fill out a whole line up, because of injuries they are down to 18 players… can somebody explain again why Hackstol wasn’t named coach of the year in the WCHA?

        • Mel Pearson did more with less talent at Michigan Tech then Dave Hakstol did with talent at UND.   It’s as simple as that.

  13. Wow, some (not all by any means) Sioux fans will complain about anything to try and discount a Gopher victory.  And yes, I know, some of my fellow gopher fans are equally idiotic in their posts about the Sioux.  Sorry bout that.  Judging by these posts you’d think the Sioux never, ever get any breaks or ever end up on the right side of a questionable call and that the Gophers pretty much start every game up a goal or two by default.  Calm down, beat St. Cloud (who’s playing as well as you guys right now), and set the stage for a great atmosphere Friday night at the X.   

    Anyone who watched the games saw that the refs were horrible both ways. I’m a Gopher fan and I think the no goalie interference on Friday was a fortunate break for us, but those types of breaks go both ways for every team.  Just look at pretty much any game Don Adam refs for ANY team because there are bound to be terrible calls all over the place.  It’s over with and I’m incredibly excited for a great weekend of hockey in St. Paul! The Final Five is the best weekend in college hockey bar none.  Can we at least agree on that no matter who we cheer for?   

    •  As a die hard Sioux fan, I couldn’t agree more. Calls do go both ways. And the final five is probably the best college hockey weekend in the country. Definitely worth my time to come from Colorado.

  14. I love how all the comments on every WCHA blog inevitably ends up being a Gopher trashing-fest.  Gophers this, Gophers that, Gophers suck, Gophers have the refs on their side…..blah blah blah.  It’s kind of empowering for us Gopher fans knowing everyone obsesses about our team.  

      • well first off, I posted that when there were only half the comments there are now (notice they put how many hours ago).  All the comments were basically gopher fans having to defend ourselves.  And, if you can pay attention…I said how ALL the comments on EVERY wcha blog……  I wasn’t referring to this single thread.  Biased…hell no.  Just simply defending against the usual hate! People can trash us all they want….we love it because we know people can’t help but think about the Gophers.  

  15. Apparently UAA didn’t have a goalie or defense when the Gophers went on a power play? Or did the refs tell them to let in? That must be it, the refs payed the goalie to let the puck in.

  16. It’s a like a broken record on here week after week…Sioux get screwed over on every single call, Gophers get every call in their favor, if the refs were fair the Sioux would win every game 6-0 and they Gophers would lose every game 6-0…..we all get it. I appreciate the logical posts on here. Here are the facts: Sioux are playing great right now as they always do down the stretch. The Gophers led the WCHA from start to finish this year and have a lot of talent and probably the best goaltender in the league. Oh and let’s not forget how well SCSU is playing right now and that team no one seems to be talking about, the defending national champs UMD. It’s gonna be a great weekend of hockey but I’m sure next week will be more of the same…..if the Sioux win, it will be in spite of the refs trying to keep them from winning and if the Gophers win it will be because the WCHA wants them to win. It will never be because one team just played better than the other

    • Yeah, and what you have said has been said over a thousand times on this site.  Come up with something original or go back to old posts and re-read them a bunch so you don’t type the EXACT same thing thay every other gopher fan posts after every Sioux win.

      Sorry guys, I’m sick of this bull.

        • Wait until the Big Joke only gets 1 (one!) team into the NCAA’s via the tournament champ auto.  THEN the whining will deafen us!

          • As of this morning the big ten would have 3 teams in the tournament. Besides, if you hate the gophers so much than why isn’t this good news for you that they are leaving?

          • And you wonder why NO one likes UND!  How are those other sports doing for you? 

            Wait North Dakota can compete at the other level of Division One with Big Ten schools…..

          • Guest, you do not appear to have a collective brain cell working in your favor.  What that must feel like….. Let’s see in the NCHC these are the teams ready for the big dance: Minnesota Duluth, Miami, North Dakota, Denver and Western.  There is a strong possibility that St. Cloud State could enter the fray by the end of the week.  CC and Omaha are done.  So let’s add it up…. oh, I’m sorry you may have some difficulty adding so I will help you……  5 likely and 1 possibly. 

          • 3 teams in the NCAA?? Michigan, michigan state, wisconsin, ohio state, penn state, and minnesota. I’m not sure what you are saying. Also, penn state isn’t competing yet so when we factor that in you would see that 3 of the 5 will (probably) be in the ncaa tournament this year. I guess I’m not sure what you are talking about.

          • Did I ever say anything about 3 teams from the Big 10….I said your conference will have 3 decent teams in it….the rest are below average.

          • Did I ever say anything about 3 teams from the Big 10 getting to the NCAAs….I said your conference will have 3 decent teams in it….the rest are below average.

          • Haha, I said 3 decent teams in your conference, I never said anything about 3 teams getting to the NCAAs because obviously that isn’t happening.  Haha, nice comeback as well.

  17. All I gotta sat ..und has the second best record since the first half of the season, only behind Maine I do believe….so for everyone to say st cloud is playing well makes me laugh. I go to scsu, if you can slow down Ben hanowski you will dominate cloud. Und will win, and play once again another great game vs gophers. Best rivalry in college hockey!

  18. CONGRATS to gimruis and St for SCSU winning the Penrose Cup. Your team was great for almost the entire season, well done and very deserved.

    • Very intense, playoff atmosphere at the Herb this weekend! Not much between these two times, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we meet again this postseason! Looking forward to attending the games in Grand Forks this coming weekend to see if we can send NoDak on the road for the first round. Been forever since that happened!

      • Well, they have some golden opportunities this weekend to improve their standings in the Pairwise. They will be playing the #1 team. Just beat St. Cloud twice and boom, they’re in.

          • It is possible, since the Huskies have the Penrose wrapped up, and likely a #1 seed in the NCAAs as well. Don’t want any injuries now. Plus there’s the possibility of a letdown after a hard-fought Denver series last weekend. If UND gets a solid effort in goal both nights (a BIG if lately), I could see them frustrating the Huskies and coming away with a sweep on senior weekend. Especially since UND has everything to play for.

          • They should have had that feeling this last weekend…..playing the bottom feeder of the conference and needing some wins to solidify the pairwise ranking……still didn’t seem to help.

          • I think we can pretty much count WM out since they are ranked 20th in the pairwise now. Three NCHC teams have basically solidified their footing in the NCAAs and I would say that Omaha/UND will be the fourth depending on who survives above the cut line. CC, WM, and Miami would all have to go on a pretty serious run the next 3 weekends to qualify for an at-large bid now.

          • I don’t see Western doing it. Watched their games against UMD and they looked lost defensively; so many unmarked Dogs running around in the slot. WMU is also one of the most (if not THE most) penalized teams in college hockey. CC with their goaltending could surprise a team, but in a 3 game series I don’t know if I see them coming out on top barring a super-human performance by Leclerc on back-to-back nights. I remember 2013-14 when the Miami RedHawks took down a certain #1 seed…and shuddered when I saw we were locked in to play Miami again this postseason.

          • I don’t think St. Cloud is going to take their foot off the gas, especially knowing they can pretty much end North Dakota’s season with a sweep.

          • You team won’t let up at all. Getting overall #1 seed is very beneficial. Being top seed at Regionals, and Frozen Four, means you are always the home team, thus last change.

  19. I’m wondering how attendance would fair at the X if the Green Plague isn’t there. They’ve made it to the Frozen Faceoff every season so far and attendance is highly depending on them playing there.

    • It would probably depend on whether St. Cloud and Duluth make it, but even then, it would be less than the 8,000 or so they’ve averaged in the past. Of course, I would imagine there would be an announced attendance based on presales, so even if NoDak doesn’t make it, I think a lot of their fans may have bought tickets already. the NCHC has already been promoting the even heavily for the last two months.

      • Would not prematurely count North Dakota as dead, yet. Even though I couldn’t find the Pairwise Predictor anywhere, a split next week would lock them in. Even two loses, to the #1 team in PWR, might get them in. This would depend on how the other “bubble” teams fare.

        • I’d definitely like to be at 12 or 13 at a minimum. Conference upsets could happen, but I think it all banks on UND winning round 1 of the NCHC. Then I would say they are a lock. Split is helpful to start with SCSU, but losing first round would be a killer.

        • I don’t think the pairwise predictor is active until all of the regular season games are finished. At least that is how it was in previous years.

          • You are right, and jogged my memory. They do it for the league tournaments, where you can put in the semi-final and final winners.

        • No. Two losses, even to the number one team, is not going to improve their standing in the PWR. Without factoring in other results, UND is at 15 with two losses, at 14 with a split and at 11 with two wins. Please stop pretending you know what you are talking about.

          • You posted a whole lot of remarks to me the previous two weeks, crybaby. What changed? Oh yeah, your Pios got beat by a better team last weekend. So NOW you have nothing to say. And NOW I am a coward for some unknown reason. Anyway, I have no problem not replying to your dumb remarks, but when you spew your uneducated opinions on here about who is in, I am going to correct you to prevent other readers of these comments from mistaking you for someone who knows what they are talking about.

          • You are a spineless, phony coward. When your team loses you “disappear” for weeks, not one single post. When they win, you post the next day. Nobody on this site believed you when you said, “I had better things to do”, as a reason for your absence. Only your troll “buddies” are gullible enough to fall for that bile. You were probably in your bedroom crying your eyes out. Grow a backbone, man up when you lose. You don’t see UMGC vanish when UND loses, you don’t see gimruis or St vanish when St. Cloud loses, and you don’t see me vanish when Denver loses. You are a total disgrace.

          • When did I disappear, you lying sack of crap? I believe you and Chockes were saying that I “disappeared” the weekend North Dakota played in St. Cloud because North Dakota got a “huge” TIE on Friday night and then LOST to St. Cloud on Saturday. What actually happened was that I was in St. Cloud for the games, staying with friends, and not looking at stupid USCHO articles that weekend. I was having fun!!!! My first thought wasn’t ‘I better come to USCHO and take my penance from two jerkoffs that I don’t like for my team getting a tie.’ My only concerns were drinking, talking and having fun with my friends. St. Cloud has only lost one series this year, so you are clearly full of crap, you crybaby puss.

      • Course, even a poor attendance showing by the NCHC would dwarf the attendance of the Little 7 tourney they have had there in the past.

      • I don’t think as many as you thought have already bought tickets. If you go to the Denny Sanford Premier Center website, you will see that every upper level section has 100+ seats available. Lower bowl only have a couple of seats available in a few sections. I feel pretty sure that a lot of the lower bowl seats have been “reserved” for the schools that are going to play at this site. Looks like “local” fans are waiting to see if ND qualifies.


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