This is the first year that the WCHA will utilize a three-weekend format for their league playoffs, meaning next weekend will be the last weekend of the regular season.
The season has, to put it bluntly, been an absolute disaster for the WCHA. The league went a combined 17-45-5 in non-conference play, and as a result, nobody in the league is anywhere close to an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. While disappointing, it does set up an exciting win-or-go-home playoffs for the eight teams competing for the Broadmoor Trophy.
As a reminder of the new format, the top eight teams make the playoffs, and play a best two-of-three next weekend, and then the four remaining teams will play a best two-of-three series the following weekend, before the highest remaining seed hosts a single-game championship.
Here’s how the league standings look heading into the final weekend of the season.
- Bemidji State 61 pts (vs. Minnesota State)
Bemidji State clinched first place in the league two weeks ago. They won’t have to leave the confines of the Sanford Center to win the WCHA tournament. That said, the Beavers aren’t exactly the most intimidating conference champion—see their winless non-conference record—so it’s definitely a wide open field.
2. Michigan Tech 51 points(home and home vs. Northern Michigan)
3. Minnesota State 48 points(at Bemidji State)
The Huskies and Mavericks are guaranteed to finish second/third in the league, and this battle really highlights the beauty of the WCHA’s new playoff format. Under the old format, the difference between second and third was essentially meaningless. They would have been competing for which jersey color they wore in the neutral site league semifinals. Now, the battle is likely for which team will host the other in the semifinal round of the playoffs should both avoid a first round upset.
Michigan Tech hold a three-point lead in the standings, though Minnesota State holds the tiebreaker. That puts Michigan Tech’s magic number at four. Any combination of four points won by Tech/lost by MSU will have the Huskies hosting in the semifinal round of the tournament.
4. Bowling Green 38 points (vs. Alabama-Huntsville)
5. Ferris State 38 points (at Lake Superior State)
Another match-up where the teams are likely competing to see who hosts whom, this time in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. Bowling Green currently holds the tiebreaker between these two with one more league win, though technically that could change. The Falcons also have the much easier match-up on the final weekend.
6. Alaska-Fairbanks 34 points (at Alaska-Anchorage)
7. Lake Superior State 33 points (vs. Ferris State)
8. Northern Michigan 31 points (home and home vs. Michigan Tech)
9. Alabama-Huntsville 30 points (at Bowling Green)
These four teams are competing for the last three playoff spots. Alaska is in the best position. They hold the tiebreaker over ninth place Huntsville(I won’t get into multi-team scenarios), so they would only need two points to make the playoffs, should Alabama-Huntsville sweep Bowling Green, Lake Superior and Northern Michigan take some points, and cats and dogs start living together.
10. Alaska-Anchorage 26 points (vs. Alaska-Fairbanks)
The Seawolves are five points out of the last playoff spot, and can’t catch Northern Michigan or Alabama-Huntsville in the win column, so they fare poorly in any potential tiebreaker. That means they need at minimum a sweep of the Nanooks and then a lot of help from Michigan Tech and Bowling Green to have a shot at making the playoffs.