NCHC Playoffs: St. Cloud State claims inaugural Penrose Cup

Jonny Brodzinski had a hat trick Friday and a NCHC regular season title with St. Cloud State Saturday - Matt Christians

Last year the MacNaughton, this year the Penrose for NCHC regular season title. Next year the moon?

For the second straight year St. Cloud State can claim a regular season trophy for the first time.

St. Cloud State won the first-ever National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) regular season title on the final night of conference games. SCSU won the Penrose Cup, awarded to the NCHC regular season winner, with a 4-1 win Saturday over Colorado College after North Dakota fell 2-1 to Western Michigan. The Huskies finished the regular season with a total of 45 points - 3 more than UND - and will host Miami in the opening round of the postseason Friday and Saturday.

The team celebrated afterwards in Colorado Springs, which fittingly was the home of the trophy's namesake.

St. Cloud State players also took selfies with the Penrose Cup because SELFIES!!!!

If North Dakota had won Saturday, both teams would have been considered co-champions. It's a position St. Cloud State knows too well. Last season the Huskies shared the WCHA regular season title with Minnesota before both teams moved to different conferences.

The NCHC began sponsoring Division 1 hockey in 2013-14. Six teams came from the WCHA while two others (Western Michigan, Miami) played last season in the now-defunct CCHA.

Besides first place, several other spots in the eight-team league were on the line this weekend. Nebraska-Omaha, picked last to start the season, and Minnesota-Duluth clinched home ice. The Broncos' win Saturday also helped because it leaped WMU ahead of Denver, whose squad lost to Miami 2-1.

2013-14 NCHC Final Standings

Points Wins Losses Ties Shootout Wins
St. Cloud State 48 15 6 3 0
North Dakota 45 15 9 0
Nebraska-Omaha 42 13 9 2 1
Minnesota-Duluth 37 11 11 2 2
Western Michigan 37 11 11 2 2
Denver 35 10 11 3 2
Colorado College 24 6 13 5 1
Miami 20 6 17 1 1

NCHC Point Structure: 3 points for regulation/OT win, 1 for tie, 1 extra point for shootout winner (so a SO win=2 points)

Next weekend's best-of-three first round sets up like this with the higher seeds hosting. All games are Friday March 14-Sunday March 16 except for Nebraska-Omaha vs. Denver, which is Thursday-Saturday.

NCHC Playoff Bracket

(Winners Advance to NCHC Frozen Faceoff Semifinals March 21 at Target Center in Minneapolis)

#1 St. Cloud State vs. #8 Miami

#2 North Dakota vs. #7 Colorado College

#3 Nebraska-Omaha vs. #6 Denver

#4 Minnesota-Duluth vs. #5 Western Michigan

--

Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter --

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