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Weekend Recap

The biggest story of the weekend has to be Brian Elliott's return and Wisconsin's collapse.

I feel two ways about that. First, Wisconsin definitely doesn't look like the same team that was so dominant in the first half of the season. They're giving up way more quality scoring chances. Brian Elliott didn't look like the same goalie either. I watched closely and couldn't notice him favoring his injured leg at all, but he didn't seem to be moving with the same quickness and confidence that he had been.

On the flipside, I think you have to give Mankato credit for playing great hockey this weekend. This was a terrible match-up for Wisconsin because they ran into a buzzsaw of playing in front of a tough crowd against a team that is playing outstanding hockey right now. I don't think anyone wants to play Mankato right now, and they're especially glad they don't have to do it at the Midwest Wireless Center.

The sweep also meant that for the second straight week, Mankato helped Minnesota clinch a title. Last week it was the DQ Cup, and this week, combined with the Gophers sweep at Anchorage, the Gophers clinched the MacNaughton Cup.

Omaha's one point weekend at Western Michigan, combined with Northern Michgan's second straight home sweep means Northern Michigan gets the last CCHA bye. I wouldn't classify Omaha's losses as a choke of epic proportions, but it's still not great. Western can play tough, especially at home, but you have to find a way to get at least one win there.

Michigan blew two leads against Ferris State to only come away with one tie. The Saturday loss was particularly painful since they built a 3-0 lead going into the third and were then dominated in the third period before losing in overtime. That officially ended Michigan's run of finishing either first or second in the CCHA. They've got some serious problems to address during their bye week, including shaky goaltending and frequent defensive breakdowns.

Notre Dame split with Alaska-Fairbanks, but thanks to the third CCHA tiebreaker, Notre Dame gets to host Fairbanks in the first round of the playoffs. That means that Fairbanks will spend the week in South Bend(talk about a punishment), and if they win, will spend another week on the mainland. In all, if the Nanooks make it all the way to Joe Louis, they could spend almost a month straight away from home and school. Talk about a Spring Break.

Michigan State got three points from Lake Superior, who had previously been a nemesis to the Spartans. Michigan State has been one of the most consistent teams in the second half of the season. Bryan and Jeff Lerg have played a huge role in the resurgence.

In the WCHA race for spots 4-6 in the playoffs, St. Cloud, Colorado College, and North Dakota continued to play solid hockey. CC took all four points from Duluth, while St. Cloud got three from Michigan Tech, and North Dakota stole a game from Denver. Colorado College needs a win against Denver to secure 4th place, and could move into third if St. Cloud sweeps Wisconsin and they get 3 points against Denver.