WCHA Playoffs: Ferris State claims first MacNaughton Cup

Ferris State Athletics

The Bulldogs won the regular season title in its first year playing in the WCHA. Ferris State finished with 42 points; 1 more than second-place Minnesota State

It went down to the wire, but in the end Saturday the Ferris State Bulldogs was helped out in the WCHA title race by its Michigan dog brethren.

Ferris State won the WCHA regular season title in the team's first year playing in the conference. The Bulldogs, one of six new teams in the league following college hockey realignment, finished the 28 game conference schedule with 42 points; 1 more than second-place Minnesota State.

2013-14 Final WCHA Standings

Points Wins Losses Ties
Ferris State 42 20 6 2
Minnesota State 41 20 7 1
Alaska 30 14 12 2
Bowling Green 30 13 11 4
Michigan Tech 29 12 11 5
Alaska-Anchorage 28 12 12 4
Northern Michigan 27 13 14 1
Bemidji State 24 10 14 4
Lake Superior State 24 12 16 0
Alabama-Huntsville 5 2 25 1

WCHA Point Structure: 2 for win, 1 for tie

Minnesota State needed an overtime goal against Michigan Tech Saturday to join Ferris State, who earlier defeated Lake Superior State 2-1 in Big Rapids, on top of the WCHA. Despite several chances in the last couple minutes - including two off a face-off with 13.1 seconds left - and barely missing out on a double goalie OT pull, the Huskies held on for a 1-1 tie in Mankato.

Afterwards, the celebration was on for the Bulldogs and head coach Bob Daniels.

Ferris State's win over Lake Superior State also set up the Bulldogs' next opponent. The MacNaughton Cup champions will host eighth-place Bemidji State next weekend. Despite the Beavers being swept by Bowling Green, BSU went 3-1-0 against the Lakers and take the final playoff spot on that tiebreaker.

Only eight of the ten WCHA teams advance in the new playoff structure.

One idea that didn't make it to the first year of the new WCHA was the "Alaska Plan," which would have seen both Alaska teams automatically face one another in the first round to cut down costs. Turns out the Alaska Plan lives with the best laid plans. Both Alaska and Alaska-Anchorage will be in the postseason and will play in the first round.

The rest of the WCHA first round match-ups are below. Four winners of the best-of-three series will head to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the (now even more misnamed) WCHA Final Five

WCHA First Round (all series Friday-Sunday except for Alaska-UAA)

#8 Bemidji State at #1 Ferris State

#7 Northern Michigan at #2 Minnesota State

#6 Alaska-Anchorage at #3 Alaska

#5 Michigan Tech at #4 Bowling Green

(Note: Alaska is 3rd because of the second tiebreaker, conference wins. Alaska and Bowling Green didn't play 4 times so the first head-to-head tiebreaker doesn't apply)

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

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