MARQUETTE - The Northern Michigan University hockey team will travel to Mankato, Minn. as the No. 7 seed in the WCHA playoffs to face No. 2 Minnesota State at 8:07 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and if necessary, Sunday.
The winner of the three-game, best-of-three quarterfinal series advances to play in the WCHA Final Five March 21-22 at Van Andel Arena in downstate Grand Rapids.
The Wildcats (15-19-12 overall, 13-14-1 in WCHA) reached the playoffs by sweeping Alabama-Huntsville in Huntsville over the weekend via a pair of 4-1 and 5-2 victories. The Wildcats began the weekend in ninth and leapfrogged Bemidji State and Lake Superior State, who both were swept on the road.
Alaska-Anchorage's win at Alaska late Saturday night dropped the 'Cats from the sixth seed to No. 7. As a result, NMU avoided a trip to Fairbanks for a first-round series with the No. 3-seeded Nanooks that begins on Thursday. Alaska will host No. 6 UAA for the second weekend in a row instead.
The Mavericks dropped from the league's No. 1 seed to No. 2 via a 1-1 tie at home to Michigan Tech on Saturday night. The tie also cost the Mavs a share of the MacNaughton Cup and regular season championship.
The tie cost the Huskies a first-round home playoff series. They now must travel as the No. 5 seed to No. 4 Bowling Green State for a Friday through Sunday series.
Thursday through Saturday
No. 6 Alaska-Anchorage at No. 3 Alaska
Friday through Sunday
No. 8 Bemdiji State at No. 1 Ferris State
No. 7. Northern Michigan at No. 2 Minnesota State
No. 5 Michigan Tech at No. 4 Bowling Green
Ferris State won its second conference title in three years by sweeping Lake Superior State, jumping from the No. 2 seed and co-regular season champions to No. 1 seed and sole holders of the MacNaughton Cup. The Bulldogs will host the Beavers Friday through Sunday.
The Lakers will miss the playoffs after losing a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Beavers, who both tied for eighth at 24 points. BSU won the regular season series 3-1-0.