Battle for the MacNaughton Cup heats up for Gopher Men's Hockey

As we head into the final weekend of regular season WCHA conference play, the standings our so tight that the No. 2 ranked University of Minnesota Golden Gophers may not even host a first round playoff series.

The twelve team conference in its last season under the current format will literally come down to the wire next weekend. Minnesota will travel to Bemidji, Minn. to meet the Beavers of Bemidji State University for the first time this season. Points will be at a premium for Don Lucia’s club if they want to play at home again this year.

The top six conference teams in the final standings will host a best-of-three playoff series to determine the six entrants in to the WCHA Final Five. Right now seven teams have a chance to host the conference playoff openers and if the house of cards fall on the Gophers, they may be traveling in two weeks.

A sweep by the Beavers this upcoming weekend would be devastating to Minnesota. They currently sit tied in second place in the standings with North Dakota at 33 points a piece. The Denver University Pioneers, who Minnesota split with this weekend, have 29 points overall in seventh place and they host last place Alaska-Anchorage.

Every series has some playoff seeding on the line. The only team guaranteed home ice to begin the playoffs is St. Cloud State University. The No. 1 team in the current standings is in prime position to win their first MacNaughton Cup in school history. They just need two points by a split or ties in Madison, Wis. versus the Wisconsin Badgers to earn a share of the trophy.

A three point weekend or more for the SCSU Huskies gives them the outright title.

Based of the conference standings below, four teams have a chance to earn a share of the MacNaughton Cup. There has never been more than two teams to earn a share of the MacNaughton cup in its 100 year history.

Scenarios are in place for Minnesota, SCSU, Wisconsin, and either North Dakota or Minnesota State-Mankato to share the regular season championship.

The Gophers, North Dakota, and SCSU are the only teams that can win the title outright.

The Gophers are 10-1-1 overall in their history versus BSU. In their last trip to the Sanford Center in Bemidji, the Maroon and Gold went to overtime in both games in March of 2011. They tied in the series opener 3-3 and won the overtime finale 3-2.

With just one point in the BSU series, Minnesota would earn that home playoff series in two weeks. Odds are that Minnesota could host the Beavers in the playoffs if they finish second overall or lose tie-breakers in a co-conference championship share.

The No.2 seed plays the No. 11 seed in the playoff first round.

Either way, get ready for a playoff hockey atmosphere across the entire league this upcoming weekend. Keep those calculators handy and cross your fingers. Minnesota will need some help from rivals Wisconsin and Minnesota State-Mankato if they want to finish their last season in the WCHA before the start of the Big Ten Hockey Conference as the lone holders of the MacNaughton Cup.

Here is the upcoming WCHA weekend schedule:

– No. 1 St. Cloud State at No. 4 Wisconsin – Fri 7:05 p.m. CT/Sat 7:05 p.m. CT

– No. 2 Minnesota at No. 11 Bemidji State – Fri 7:35 p.m. CT/Sat 7:05 p.m. CT

– No. 2 North Dakota at No. 4 MSU-Mankato –  Fri 7:35 p.m. CT/Sat 7:05 p.m. CT

– No. 6 Nebraska-Omaha at No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth – Fri 7:05 p.m. CT/Sat 7:05 p.m. CT

– No. 8 Colorado College at No. 10 Michigan Tech – Fri 7:05 p.m. ET/Sat 7:05 p.m. ET

– No. 12 Alaska-Anchorage at No. 7 Denver – Fri 7:35 p.m. MT/Sun 12:05 p.m. MT

WCHA Games
Overall
GP
W
L
T
Pts
GF
GA
W
L
T
GF
GA
1
St. Cloud State
26
17
8
1
35
88
61
20
13
1
113
86
2
Minnesota
26
14
7
5
33
85
61
22
7
5
122
67
North Dakota
26
13
6
7
33
88
66
18
9
7
112
84
4
Minnesota State
26
15
10
1
31
85
63
21
10
3
112
77
Wisconsin
26
12
7
7
31
64
58
16
11
7
85
70
6
Nebraska Omaha
26
14
10
2
30
88
80
18
14
2
117
98
7
Denver
26
12
9
5
29
79
79
17
11
5
107
92
8
Colorado College
26
10
12
4
24
84
93
13
16
5
112
121
9
Minnesota Duluth
26
8
13
5
21
64
79
12
17
5
86
98
10
Michigan Tech
26
7
15
4
18
70
88
11
17
4
97
100
11
Bemidji State
26
5
14
7
17
54
78
6
18
8
66
95
12
Alaska Anchorage
26
2
18
6
10
50
93
4
21
7
63
109

Next Golden Gophers Game Full schedule »
Friday, Oct 2424 Oct8:00Bemidji State BeaversBuy Tickets

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