WCHA goes with standard playoff format

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Despite being in the midst of playing six games in 10 days, the Northern Michigan University hockey team will get almost two weeks off at the end of the regular season before starting the WCHA Postseason Tournament.

The first round, which is a best-of-three quarterfinals, takes place from Friday through Sunday, March 12-14, at the four highest-seeded teams. The tournament will include all eight teams playing this season after both Alaska schools opted out before or right at the start of this season.

The four quarterfinal winners will advance to the single-game semifinal and final rounds to be played at the highest surviving seed the following weekend, Friday and Saturday, March 19-20.

The WCHA Championship Game winner receives the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. The winner also receives the Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy.

Before Tuesday’s game against Alabama-Huntsville, NMU was in third place with a 5-3-0 record and 14 points. While Minnesota State-Mankato with its perfect 10-0-0 record and 30 points has the regular season title locked up, the Wildcats could easily end up anywhere from second to seventh place with six regular-season games remaining. The last-place team, Ferris State, is 0-11-1 with three points.

Second-place Bowling Green State entered Tuesday with a 5-5-0 record and 17 points; while the Wildcats trailed the Falcons by three points, NMU also had two games in hand.

After Northern, the next four teams trailed the Wildcats by two to nine points, but each had one or two games in hand on NMU. Right behind the Wildcats was Michigan Tech at 4-3-0 and 12 points with a game in hand, while in seventh was Alabama-Huntsville at 2-4-0 and five points but two games in hand.

NMU will get the extra time off when the regular season ends because an open weekend was built into the original schedule in case of the need for makeup games. But Northern wasn’t able to schedule during that weekend because Alabama-Huntsville, who was the Wildcats’ original Jan. 22-23 opponent, already had a makeup series scheduled for the first weekend of March.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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