1. Three at the top
Northern Michigan is still on top of the WCHA. For now. But their margin is razor-thin. The Wildcats have a one-point lead on second-place Minnesota State and a three-point lead on third-place Bowling Green in the race for the MacNaughton Cup. NMU had the chance to give itself a bit more breathing room last weekend but only managed a split with Alabama Huntsville on the road. Likewise, Bowling Green had a shot to pull even with the Wildcats in first but they, too, stumbled at home against Michigan Tech — they won big (7-2) Friday but lost the series finale 4-0. The Mavericks, meanwhile, did what they do — a dominating series sweep of Alaska Anchorage at home — to keep rolling. They also have two games in hand on both NMU and BGSU. The Falcons are off this weekend, giving the Mavs an opportunity ton widen the gap. NMU, meanwhile, hosts Alaska and can at least stay in front of MSU for another week if they can match the Mavs, who travel to Alabama Huntsville.
2. Started from the bottom
On the other side of the standings, Lake Superior State gave itself a chance to stay in the playoff picture with a fantastic weekend in Bemidji. The Lakers swept the Beavers on the road over the weekend, getting a pair of 2-0 victories. Nick Kossoff and Mareks Mitens were both perfect in the nets for LSSU, who earned their first two shutouts of the season at the most opportune time. The Lakers are still in ninth place — not in the playoffs yet — but they’re seven points behind eighth-place Ferris State. The Bulldogs were swept over the weekend in Alaska and dropped from sixth place to eighth. The Lakers have four regular season games left to catch the Bulldogs, but there’s good news for them: They take on Alaska Anchorage this weekend, then have the week ioff before a head-to-head matchup with the Bulldogs at the end of the season that could decide who goes to the WCHA playoffs and who stays home.
3. Home ice battle
Three of the four home ice spots have been clinched — by NMU, MSU and BGSU. The fourth will take better shape after this weekend. Fourth-place Bemidji State travels to fifth-place Michigan Tech with just two points separating the two. The Beavers, as previously mentioned, failed to score in 120 minutes against Lake Superior State while the Huskies rallied from their worst defensive performance of the season to earn a split with BGSU. A sweep by either team in this series won’t decide who gets home ice definitively — the Beavers still have two games-in-hand on the Huskies — it’s maybe the most important for both teams here at the end of the season. The winner will likely end up hosting the loser in the playoffs, depending on how things shake out, so expect to see these teams do battle again very soon.