This coming weekend is the final weekend of the regular season in the women’s WCHA, and while the league standings may have solidified into three distinct tiers, there are some very intriguing battles within those tiers that should make for an exciting final weekend both on the ice, and in watching scoreboards.
Here’s how the league standings look, as of today:
A couple quick reminders at the beginning. A league win is worth three points in regulation/OT, and two points for a shootout win. The league champ gets a bye in the first round of the playoffs, while #2 hosts #7, #3 hosts #6, and #4 hosts #5.
WCHA tiebreakers are: 1. Head-to-head record 2. Most league wins 3. Fewest league losses 4. Fewest goals allowed in the four-game head-to-head series between the teams.
Finally, if two teams are tied for first place, they are declared co-champions.
Here is next weekend’s schedule(All games Friday/Saturday):
Ohio State at Wisconsin
Minnesota at Bemidji State
Minnesota Duluth at Minnesota State
There are three key races to watch next weekend:
Wisconsin holds a two-point lead on the Gophers heading into the final weekend. So if the Badgers win both games against Ohio State, with at least one being in regulation, they’ll win the WCHA and be the top overall seed. Minnesota needs to earn at least three more points than whatever the Badgers do to win the league.
If Minnesota gains two points on the Badgers next weekend, they will both be co-champions, and they’ll head to tiebreakers to determine who gets the bye in the first round of the playoffs.
The most likely tie scenario would seem to require Minnesota taking all six points, while Wisconsin wins and has a shootout loss against Ohio State. If that happened, the two teams would have identical league records, and split their season series together. But the top seed would go to Wisconsin on the fourth tiebreaker, thanks to the Badgers scoring seven goals in their four games against Minnesota, while Minnesota only scored six. The difference, would be an empty-net goal scored by the Badgers in their 4-1 October win over the Gophers.
Last Home Ice Spot
Spots three through five in the conference are fairly tight. Two of those teams will end up on home ice in the playoffs, while the third will face an uphill battle to make it to Ridder Arena. Ohio State holds a four-point lead on Bemidji State, while Minnesota Duluth is five points back of the Buckeyes.
But ironically, Minnesota Duluth may hold the inside track on third place. As mentioned above, Ohio State and Bemidji State are playing really good teams that are desperate for points in their own conference race. Minnesota Duluth as to travel on the road, but is playing a Minnesota State team currently in last place that the Bulldogs are 2-0-1 against this season. A six-point sweep for the Bulldogs likely gets them at least home ice, and probably third place.
With three teams, there are too many tiebreaker possibilities to mention. Bemidji State holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Ohio State. Minnesota Duluth holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Bemdji State. Ohio State holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Minnesota Duluth. A three-way tie would make my head hurt.
Minnesota State trails St. Cloud State by one point for sixth place in the league. But St. Cloud State is the odd team out on the final weekend of the season, meaning the Mavericks will have two opportunities to surpass the Huskies next weekend.
While the Mavericks only need one point to tie St. Cloud State, for seeding purposes, they’re essentially two down, because the Huskies hold the tiebreaker over the Mavericks by virtue of their head-to-head record.