Omaha, North Dakota split
The tight race at the middle of the NCHC standings keeps becoming more interesting.
Fourth-place North Dakota and fifth-place Omaha remain tied on 29 points heading into the final week of the regular season after the teams split a two-game set this weekend in Grand Forks, N.D. Two late goals from Tyson Jost and Brock Boeser gave UND a 6-4 win Friday before 22 Evan Weninger saves gave Omaha a 3-0 victory Saturday on UND’s Senior Night.
Neither team is where it wants to be. They don’t know yet if they’ll be playing at home in the first round of the NCHC tournament, and both are looking at potentially missing the NCAA tournament. UND is 16th in the PairWise Rankings, UNO 17th.
Omaha has the toughest remaining slate. The Mavericks host No. 1 Denver next weekend, and the Pioneers have not yet clinched the NCHC regular season title. UND travels to a Miami team that is .500 (6-6-3) at home so far this season.
RedHawks battle with Bulldogs
The good news for Minnesota-Duluth coming out of this weekend is that the Bulldogs are on an 11-game unbeaten streak (8-0-3). The not-as-good news is that UMD could be in a more comfortable position than it is.
Duluth keeps picking up points, but Miami made the Bulldogs work for them this week at the Amsoil Arena. An Avery Peterson game-winner with 1:21 remaining gave UMD a 4-3 win Thursday. Miami pulled level late in Friday’s series finale, as Gordie Green tied Friday’s game at 3-3 with 3:25 remaining before he scored again in a three-on-three overtime session to keep Duluth from grabbing a second league point.
UMD currently sits four points behind Denver at the top of the NCHC standings. Miami could still theoretically finish the regular season tied for fourth place, but tiebreakers would go against the RedHawks, which means their home series next week against UND will serve as the last games of the season at the Goggin Ice Center.
Duluth is on the road next weekend, too, to face an eighth-ranked Western Michigan team that locked up third place in the league standings with a win and three-on-three overtime loss this weekend at Colorado College.
Penrose in sight for Pioneers
After a home sweep this weekend against St. Cloud State, Denver’s road to a conference regular season championship couldn’t be clearer: With a win at UNO next Friday, the Penrose Cup belongs to the Pioneers.
DU upped its current winning streak to nine games this weekend, edging SCSU 4-3 in overtime on Friday before routing the Huskies 7-2 Saturday. A Henrik Borgrstrom goal 3:44 into Friday’s extra period gave the Pioneers the win that night before a Liam Finlay hat trick propelled DU to its big win Saturday.
Should Denver wrap up the NCHC regular season title next weekend, the Pioneers would host last-place Colorado College in the first round of the conference playoffs. Doing well there would further solidify DU’s chances of earning a No. 1 regional seed for the NCAA tournament.
St. Cloud’s two losses this weekend dropped the Huskies to sixth in the NCHC standings, although SCSU is only one point behind both UND and Omaha. Home ice in the first round of the playoffs is still a very real possibility for a Huskies squad that finishes regular season play at home next week against CC.