Three things from the final weekend of play in the WCHA:
1. Playoff field set
Coming into the weekend, only five of eight playoff spots were actually decided — the five teams on the bottom half of the bracket were fighting for three playoff spots. By the time Saturday rolled around, it was three teams fighting for two spots. In the end two teams — last place Alaska Anchorage and ninth-place Alabama Huntsville — were eliminated. Both teams were swept this weekend — UAA by Alaska and UAH by Bowling Green — so even if they could have gotten help from teams ahead of them, neither team helped itself.
The race for the final spots weren’t the only ones over the weekend, however. Michigan Tech and Minnesota State were battling for the No. 2 playoff seed — one which was ultimately won by the Huskies, who beat Northern Michigan Saturday at the same time that the Mavericks lost to first-place Bemidji State. The fourth and final home ice playoff spot eventually went to Bowling Green, who came into the weekend tied for the spot with Ferris State. The Bulldogs will visit the Falcons in the first round next week. Alaska (sixth), Lake Superior State (seventh) and Northern Michigan (eighth) round out the playoff field.
2. Nanooks win Governor’s Cup, again
It was a strange scene late Saturday night in Anchorage: All eight WCHA playoff spots had already been decided, and league points absolutely didn’t matter for Alaska’s in-state grudge match with archrivals Alaska Anchorage. Alaska had wrapped up the No. 6 seed already, and the Seawolves had already found out they weren’t qualifying for the postseason. On the line, though, was the coveted Governors’ Cup. Because of the way things had played out previously, UAA needed an outright 3-point win in order to claim the cup from UAF for the first time since 2009 (UAF vacated titles from 2010-2012, but UAA hasn’t won it officially since 09). Hence why, with the score tied 1-1 and just 61 seconds to go in overtime, Anchorage head coach Matt Thomas pulled goalie Rasmus Reijola for an extra attacker. The Seawolves had to win in 5-on-5 or else they weren’t going to win the cup. Tayler Munson delivered the dagger, scoring a rare overtime empty netter to give the Nanooks a 2-1 win with 19.2 seconds left and another Governors Cup. The Nanooks now take a four-game unbeaten streak into their first-round matchup with Minnesota State next weekend in Mankato.
3. Mayhew wins scoring race, Bitzer goaltending champ
The end of the WCHA season also meant that the conference’s leaders are official. Ferris State senior forward Gerald Mayhew won the league’s scoring race, finishing with 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) in 26 league games. He just edged Minnesota State’s Marc Michaelis (13g-15a-28pts) for the title. Overall Mayhew had 33 points (17g, 16a) in 33 games.
Bemidji State junior Michael Bitzer took the league’s goaltending title. Bitzer finished the season with a 1.40 goals against average — a record for conference games — along with a .940 save percentage and a 20-5-2 overall record in 27 league games.