Three things I learned from this weekend in the WCHA …
1. Mavericks make statement
Minnesota State has been an offensive-minded team for much of this season. But the Mavericks survived a tough, physical road series against No. 1 Michigan Tech and swept the Huskies with the help of its own brand of rock-solid defending along with the goaltending of junior Stephon Williams. The series could have tilted either way, with MSU winning two one-goal games and scoring twice in the third period of each game to get the sweep. Circle your calendar for Feb. 27-28 when the Mavericks and Huskies meet again in Mankato because it’s sure to be meaningful.
2. Don’t rest on Bowling Green
Sitting neck and neck with Minnesota State and two points behind Michigan Tech is Bowling Green, which, after sweeping Bemidji State (a team that probably deserves better than the 0-for in its last six games), has won six of its last seven games. The Falcons seem to know how to win the close games. Counting games that saw an empty-net goal at the end, Bowling Green is 4-2-1 in games decided by one goal or less. Six of those games have been decided by a 3-2 score.
3. Just got tougher
Alabama Huntsville and Lake Superior State scored big wins over the weekend, with the Chargers winning at Ferris State on Friday and the Lakers edging Alaska in overtime on Saturday, for series splits. That’s made for a clogged-up middle of the standings where teams will be battling for home ice in just a few months. Four points separate six teams sitting fourth to seventh. Huntsville is 3-2-1 in its last six games and 2-6-0 in conference games (a schedule that has already seen Minnesota State and Bowling Green). Meanwhile, the Lakers are 3-2-0 in their last five games and 3-7-0 in league play.