We're down to the final week of the penultimate WCHA season. Two teams are still in the hunt for the MacNaughton Cup, and home ice is still on the line for a few teams.
The WCHA's tiebreaking procedures are thus: 1) Head-to-head competition 2) Most WCHA wins 3) Least goals allowed among tied teams 4) Winning margin in WCHA games
If more than two teams end up tied for the same spot, head-to-head is calculated as either a plus, minus, or even between each tied team, not necessarily the total number of games won or lost. If a team loses a tiebreaker, but other teams are still tied, the losing team does not move on to the next tiebreaker.
Ok, here we go:
1. Minnesota- The Gophers are in the driver's seat for the MacNaughton, holding a two-point lead on Minnesota-Duluth heading into the last weekend. Three or more points against Wisconsin clinches an outright WCHA regular season title. If Duluth gains two points on Minnesota over the course of the weekend, they would be considered Co-champions. I'm not sure who gets the MacNaughton Cup. I assume it goes to whomever, as the Cup's true owner, begs to give it the other team rather than see it cut in half, but regardless Minnesota would still earn the number one seed due to their early season sweep over the Bulldogs. Minnesota can finish no lower than second in the standings.
2. Minnesota-Duluth- The Bulldogs travel to St. Cloud State and need to gain two points on the Gophers--at home against Wisconsin--to earn a share of the WCHA regular season title, and three or more points to win it outright. Third place Denver can tie UMD in the standings, but Duluth won and tied in Denver earlier this season, and Jason Zucker and the Pioneers didn't travel to Duluth--which is just as well, since the brahs in the UMD student section couldn't come up with a word to rhyme with Holocaust--so UMD would win that tiebreaker.
3. Denver- The Pioneers can't move any higher than the third seed, so their mission for the weekend is to hold off the only team that can catch them in fourth place North Dakota. My goodness this is simple with only 4-point series and no shootout points like the CCHA. North Dakota would hold the tiebreaker over the Pioneers due to having more conference wins if the Sioux gained three points on Denver over the course of the weekend.
4. North Dakota- The Sioux have an outside shot on third place if they gain three or more on Denver. Two of the teams that can catch them, Michigan Tech and Colorado College, play each other, and with only one tie on the season, the Sioux are in good shape in every tiebreaker meaning the Sioux can finish no lower than sixth in the league. North Dakota wins the tiebreaker against Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha, Michigan Tech, and St. Cloud State individually. I'm not doing the math if multiple teams tie North Dakota, but with North Dakota only being swept by teams irrelevant to this discussion, and the Sioux only having one tie this season, it seems incredibly likely that they finish no worse than 4th in the league.
5. Colorado College- The Tigers control their home ice destiny since they are facing off against 7th place Michigan Tech. They can reach as high as fourth place if they are three or more points better than North Dakota on the weekend. They would hold the tiebreaker over Nebraska-Omaha and St. Cloud State individually if they finished tied with either of those two teams.
6. Nebraska-Omaha- They're tied with Colorado College, and in pretty much the same position. They don't win the tiebreaker with Colorado College. They do win the tiebreaker against Michigan Tech and St. Cloud State.
7. Michigan Tech- The Huskies also control their home ice destiny by playing against Colorado College. Taking three or more points against Colorado College will sew up Michigan Tech's first home ice in the WCHA playoffs in a very long time. A loss this weekend means they will be on the road in the playoffs. Ninth place Wisconsin can tie Michigan Tech, but the Huskies hold the tiebreaker thanks to an early season sweep.
8. St. Cloud State-The Huskies still have an outside shot at home ice, but are playing a very good Minnesota-Duluth team that is also desperate for wins to have a shot at a league title. Their best bet for moving up is to hope that either Colorado College or Michigan Tech, preferably Colorado College, sweeps their series against each other. They'll also need help from Denver to have a chance at passing Nebraska-Omaha. St. Cloud holds the tiebreaker over Wisconsin, so the Badgers would need to gain all four points on St. Cloud this weekend to pass the Huskies. Bemidji State could also finish ahead of St. Cloud if they gain four points on the Huskies this weekend, as BSU holds the tiebreaker over St. Cloud.
9. Wisconsin- Wisconsin can't move any higher than the 8th seed. Bemidji trails Wisconsin by a point, but the Badgers hold the tiebreaker over Wisconsin. Minnesota State can tie Wisconsin if they sweep North Dakota and Wisconsin gets swept, but I'm not figuring out that tiebreaker because that's not going to happen.
10. Bemidji State-They need to gain two or more points on Wisconsin to pass them for the 9th spot, and could technically as high as 8th. Minnesota State could technically catch or even pass Bemidji for 10th, but again, that's not happening.
11. Minnesota State-Minnesota State needs at least three points at North Dakota to have a shot at passing anyone. I'm not sure they've won three points at North Dakota in the past decade. They'll finish in 11th.
12. Alaska-Anchorage- The Seawolves will finish in last place.