1. Northern Michigan is officially in first place
With their road sweep at Alaska Anchorage last weekend, Northern Michigan moved four points clear of previous leaders Minnesota State. The ‘Cats have won six straight conference games. Most notably, they’ve done it without getting a single goal from top goalscorer Robbie Payne in that span. Instead, his linemates Troy Loggins and Adam Rockwood have been putting the puck in the net. Loggins has seven goals and 10 points in the past six games while Rockwood has three goals and 11 points. Both Loggins and Rockwood are now tied for the league scoring lead with 32 points apiece. The Wildcats have six games left in the regular season, so they won’t be able to hold the conference lead without help — Minnesota State was idle this weekend and has two games in hand on NMU. Currently the Wildcats have 49 points and MSU is four points behind in third. Which brings me to…
2. Bowling Green edges ahead to second
The Falcons also earned a road sweep, taking two from Lake Superior State in the Sault. They’re three points behind NMU and one point ahead of MSU for second place. Prehaps most importantly, the Falcons have just one more home series on the schedule, and it’s a big one — a matchup with Michigan Tech, the team that beat them in the WCHA title game a year ago. The Falcons already took five of six points from the Huskies when they met in Houghton, and after Tech struggled mightily in their series at Ferris State — the Bulldogs won both games 4-3 and 3-1 — BG can deal the Huskies some real damage with a majority of the points this weekend. Tech is currently in fifth place — outside of a home ice spot for the WCHA playoffs. They’re five points behind fourth-place Bemidji State, which has two games in hand on them. BG, by the way, is still very much in the mix for an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. They’re No. 17 in the Pairwise (NMU is No. 18) and could shoot up the table as long as they keep winning.
3. Playoff picture
Four teams have clinched playoff spots right now: NMU, BGSU, MSU and Bemidji. The teams currently on the outside — Lake Superior in ninth and anchorage in tenth — aren’t mathematically eliminated yet. There’s four weeks left in the season and everybody but MSU, BSU, Alaska and Anchorage will be getting a bye week (the four I just mentioned have two games in hand on the rest of the league). Essentially, what I’m trying to say here is that because this is the WCHA, nothing has been decided yet — which always makes covering these teams so much fun.