THREE THINGS: Mavericks back in first, but playoff picture no more clear

A few things I think we learned on the penultimate weekend of the WCHA regular season:

1. Minnesota State takes control

With first-place Northern Michigan idle, Minnesota State needed only three points to move into first place in the WCHA standings. They did that and more, sweeping Ferris State to earn six points and move in front of the Wildcats. The Mavs, who scored 11 goals on the weekend, have now won nine games in a row and are five points ahead of NMU with two games to play for both teams. Minnesota State, which hosts instate rivals Bemidji State this weekend, just needs a point this weekend against the Beavers to lock up the No. 1 seed and can win the MacNaughton outright if they earn two or more. The Wildcats, who have a home-and-home with rivals Michigan Tech this weekend, still have a shot to win their first MacNaughton since 1991, but they’ll need some help from Bemidji State.

2. Beavers lock up final home ice slot

Just about the only thing that was decided last weekend was the No. 4 and 5 seeds. Bemidji State, thanks to a five-point weekend against Alaska, locked up the No. 4 seed and the final first-round home-ice playoff spot. They will take on No. 5 seed Michigan Tech in the first round. The rest of the top seeds are still up for grabs — as previously stated, NMU can still earn the No. 1 seed with some help. Meanwhile, third-place Bowling Green is just three points behind NMU and readty to swoop in for the No. 2 seed should the Wildcats falter.

3. All-out battle for last three playoff spots

Meanwhile, it will be a fight to the death for the last three playoff spots. Alabama Huntsville, Alaska, Ferris State and Lake Superior State are separated in the standings by four points. UAH and Alaska are tied for sixth right now, with 30 points. Ferris is in eighth with 28 and Lake Superior ninth with 27. The best rundown for possible scenarios comes from Predict WCHA Playoffs. As they say on the blog, it’s complicated, but Lake Superior needs at least four points on the weekend to make the playoffs. They have a head-to-head matchup with Ferris State, while Alaska takes on rivals Alaska Anchorage and Alabama Huntsville hosts Bowling Green. Should be fun.