Less than an hour to midnight here in the frozen Central Time Zone. For those of you reading this on the East Coast, Happy New Year! For everyone else, you can wait until the clock strikes 12 by reading my three things on the WCHA to close out the New Year!
1. Wildcats climb the standings
No your eyes are not deceiving you: With 31 points at the end of 2017, Northern Michigan has sneakily leapfrogged a bunch of teams and are now in second place in the WCHA standings. The Wildcats have earned points in every conference series so far and did it again this time around against Minnesota State. NMU stunned MSU with a late goal Friday night to move just two points back and could have moved ahead of MSU with a win Saturday, but the Mavericks were able to fend off the Wildcats Saturday and keep them five points back — for now. But I think it’s safe to say the Wildcats are going to be a serious player for the league title at the end of the year.
2. Beavers keep streak alive
With their sweep against Alabama Huntsville of the weekend, Bemidji State extended its unbeaten streak to seven games. They’ve won four in a row, and have given up just three goals in the process. That’s helped them move up from the bottom half of the league and into the top — they’re currently in fifth place with 24 points and games-in-hand on three of the four teams in front of them. Time is running out if the Beavers want to chance to repeat as league champs, but their recent results mean they have a chance.
3. Tournament time
Although four WCHA teams played conference games this weekend, a handful are in nonconference tournament mode. Lake Superior State went 1-1 at the Three Rivers Classic, falling to Providence before beating Arizona State in the finale. This week, there’s more: The Great Lakes Invitational begins Monday with Michigan Tech and Bowling Green set to battle Michigan State and Michigan, respectively, in Detroit. And then Michigan Tech will get ready for yet another tournament. They, along with UP rival Northern Michigan, will head south for the Vegas hockey classic. Tech takes on Arizona State while NMU gets to take on Boston College. This will be the perfect opportunity for the WCHA to see if it can pick up some nonconference victories.