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WCHA Playoff Picture Mostly Solved, but MacNaughton Still on the Line

Bemidji State clinched home ice in the playoffs and set up an exciting finish to the MacNaughton Cup race
Bemidji State clinched home ice in the playoffs and set up an exciting finish to the MacNaughton Cup race
Matt Christians

Friday night solved two of the big three mysteries in the WCHA playoff race.

We'll start at the bottom of the league. Both Alabama-Huntsville and Lake Superior lost on Friday evening, missing out of a chance to clinch a playoff birth, but Alaska-Fairbanks defeated Alaska-Anchorage 1-0, which officially eliminated the Seawolves from playoff contention and setting the field for the next year's first round of the WCHA playoffs. Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks will miss out on the playoffs this year, easing travel concerns for the league a bit.

Alabama-Huntsville and Lake Superior are currently tied for seventh place with 15 points. Lake Superior holds the tiebreaker over Huntsville, so UAH needs to pick up at least one more point than Lake Superior tomorrow night to avoid the number one seed.

Meanwhile, the series of Northern Michigan/Michigan Tech and Bemidji State/Minnesota State held great importance for both the top of the league standings and the final home ice playoff spot. Michigan Tech defeated Northern Michigan 5-1 on Friday night, while Bemidji State won their second straight over Minnesota State by a score of 5-2.

The two points for Bemidji State put them three points ahead of Northern Michigan, thus clinching the fourth and final home ice playoff spot. Minnesota State, Michigan Tech, Bowling Green, and Bemidji State will all host playoff series next weekend.

Meanwhile, Michigan Tech's win and Minnesota State's loss kept Minnesota State from clinching the MacNaughton Cup tonight. The Mavericks lead in the WCHA standings is now just one point with one final game to play. The Mavericks still hold the tiebreaker with Michigan Tech, so they only need a single point to clinch the top spot in the playoffs. The same results tomorrow night would give Michigan Tech the trophy outright.

So heading into the last day of the regular season, here are the standings, and the range of where teams can finish:

1. Minnesota State 43 pts (1-2)

2. Michigan Tech 42 pts (1-2)

3. Bowling Green 35 pts (3)

4. Bemidji State 29 pts (4)

5. Alaska-Fairbanks 28 pts (Ineligible for playoffs)

6. Northern Michigan 26 pts (5-6)

7. Ferris State 25 pts (5-6)

T8. Lake Superior 15 pts (7-8)

T8. Alabama-Huntsville 15 pts (7-8)

10. Alaska-Anchorage 12 pts (eliminated from playoffs)