1. Mavericks pulling away?
Michigan Tech has led the WCHA standings for what seems like the entire season. But after the past two weekends, the paradigm is starting to shift. Minnesota State has surged to a six-point lead after taking seven points in the last two weeks. The Mavs swept Lake Sueprior State this weekend then got three points from Northern Michigan the week before.
Meanwhile, Michigan Tech returned to WCHA play this past weekend and managed just one point against UP rivals Northern Michigan. The Huskies played six straight nonconference weekends, which allowed the Mavericks to sneak in behind them and take the lead.
MSU still has to play Ferris State twice and make another Alaska trip, while Michigan Tech still has to play another series against both MSU and third-place Bowling Green, which is a point behind Tech for third place with 20 points.
2. Bowling Green streaking
Meanwhile, the Falcons are unbeaten in their last nine games and haven’t lost since Nov. 14 against Ohio State. BG rallied from a 4-1 hole against Alaska on Saturday to keep the unbeaten streak alive.
The Falcons own the nation’s top penalty kill — they’ve only given up five power play goals — and BG’s three-goalie rotation has impressed lately. Freshman Chris Nell is unbeaten in seven games in net.
The Falcons travel to Houghton this weekend for a huge series against Tech. BG has two games in hand on Tech and four on Minnesota State, so four points against Tech could give the Falcons a fast track to overtaking second — and possibly first — in the standings soon down the road.
3. Separation on the bottom
On the other side of the standings, it looks like last weekend has given us a more clear picture of the three teams who will be fighting for the final few playoff spots.
The bottom three teams in the conference — Alabama Huntsville, Alaska Anchorage and Lake Superior State — were all swept over the weekend.
Bemidji State, which came into the weekend just a point ahead of Huntsville for seventh place with nine points, took all four from the Chargers to put some separation between them and the bottom of the league. The Beavers in seventh now with 13 points and are just three points out of home ice position.
Now, Huntsville still has a hold on the No. 8 spot in the standings (eight points) while Anchorage and Lake State are tied for No. 9 with six points.
These three teams are surely glad that Alaska’s indiscretions led to their playoff suspension, as it will give them an extra chance to make the postseason. Still, one team in the conference is going to be on the outside looking in at the end of the season, and unless something crazy happens down the stretch it will almost certainly be one of these three teams.