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February 27, 2009 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

WCHA Playoff Picture

The Race for the McNaughton Cup

by Dan Myers/CHN Staff

Where the teams stand heading into the final two weeks of the regular season, starting tonight.

NORTH DAKOTA FIGHTING SIOUX (20-11-3 overall, 15-6-3 WCHA, 33 pts.)
Pairwise Rank: 11th
Pairwise Standing: On the good side of the bubble
Home Games: Colorado College (2)
Road Games: Wisconsin (2)
This weekend: vs. CC
Our view: Because the Fighting Sioux are tied for first and have a game in hand, they have to be considered the front runner for the MacNaughton Cup. Plus, it's after Christmas and it's North Dakota; everyone knows what that means.

DENVER PIONEERS (19-9-4 overall, 15-7-3 WCHA, 33 pts.)
Pairwise rank: T-4th
Pairwise standing: Safe for now
Home games remaining: St. Cloud State (2), Colorado College (1)
Road games remaining: None
This weekend: vs. SCSU
Our view: The Pioneers could really use four points this weekend in its final home series of the regular season. If they sweep St. Cloud, they've got a shot at the Cup. Anything less and it might be tough.

COLORADO COLLEGE TIGERS (16-9-8 overall, 12-8-5 WCHA, 29 pts.)
Pairwise rank: 16th
Pairwise standing: Outside looking in
Home games remaining: None
Road games remaining: North Dakota (2), Denver (1)
This weekend: at UND
Our view: CC has quietly worked its way back into MacNaughton Cup conversation, but they will need three wins and plenty of help. Richard Bachman looked like his old self in a weekend sweep over Minnesota last weekend.

WISCONSIN BADGERS (16-13-3 overall, 13-9-2 WCHA, 28 pts.)
Pairwise rank: T-17th
Pairwise standing: Outside looking in
Home games remaining: North Dakota (2)
Road games remaining: Minnesota State (2)
This weekend: at MSU
Our view: The losses to Denver last weekend, at home no less, essentially ended any conference title hopes. But the Badgers have no time to mope: Another bad weekend at Minnesota State this weekend and Wisconsin could lose its current home-ice standing.

MINNESOTA DULUTH BULLDOGS (16-9-7 overall, 10-8-6 WCHA, 26 pts.)
Pairwise rank: 13th
Pairwise standing: On the good side of the bubble
Home games remaining: Alaska-Anchorage (2)
Road games remaining: Minnesota (2)
This weekend: at UM
Our view: Duluth didn't lose at Michigan Tech last weekend, but they really could have used that extra point in Saturday's tie. In a race this close, every point will undoubtedly make a difference. At stake this weekend: A chance to bury their in-state rivals home-ice hopes.

ST. CLOUD STATE HUSKIES (17-13-2 overall, 12-11-1 WCHA, 25 pts.)
Pairwise rank: 20th
Pairwise standing: Outside looking in
Home games remaining: Minnesota State (1)
Road games remaining: Denver (2), Minnesota State (1)
This weekend: at DU
Our view: The Huskies survived a weekend off and find themselves just a single point out of a home-ice slot. A roadtrip to Denver this weekend will be a stiff test for a team that is 5-2-1 in its last eight games and 3-1-0 in its last four. Grabbing at least two points at DU could be essential.

MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (13-11-6 overall, 10-10-4 WCHA, 24 pts.)
Pairwise rank: 19th
Pairwise standing: Outside looking in
Home games remaining: Minnesota Duluth (2)
Road games remaining: Michigan Tech (2)
This weekend: vs. UMD
Our view: Not only has Minnesota dropped from the No. 1 team in the nation to barely in the top-20, the Gophers have fallen from a sure NCAA tournament bid a month ago to fighting for their tournament lives. A sweep over UMD this weekend may put the Gophers in the driver's seat for the final home-ice slot, however.

MINNESOTA STATE MAVERICKS (13-15-3 overall, 9-13-2 WCHA, 20 pts.)
Pairwise rank: NR
Pairwise standing: Not ranked
Home games remaining: Wisconsin (2), St. Cloud State (1)
Road games remaining: St. Cloud State (1)
This weekend: vs. UW
Our view: The Mavericks have played only three games in the last three weeks, all on the road, and blowing third period leads in two of the three contests. With eight points remaining to be had the next two weekends, the Mankato needs all eight and plenty of help for home-ice. More so, however, the Mavericks need wins to establish some positive momentum.

ALASKA-ANCHORAGE SEAWOLVES (10-15-5 overall, 7-14-5 WCHA, 19 pts.)
Pairwise rank: NR
Pairwise standing: Not ranked
Home games remaining: Alaska (1)
Road games remaining: Minnesota Duluth (2), Alaska (1)
This weekend: vs. Alaska
Our view: It's been a surprisingly good season for the Seawolves, as they sit just a single point out of eighth. But their schedule worked against them this season and because of a nonconference series this weekend, Anchorage could be locked into the ninth spot by the time Sunday morning rolls around.

MICHIGAN TECH HUSKIES (5-22-7 overall, 1-18-7 WCHA, 9 pts.)
Pairwise rank: NR
Pairwise standing: Not ranked
Home games remaining: Minnesota (2)
Road games remaining: None
This weekend: Off
Our view: Ravaged all season by injuries, Michigan Tech is a team nobody wants to play down the stretch and in the playoffs. Although they have won only one conference game this season, they have given even good teams fits. The Huskies could be a home-ice spoiler next weekend when they host Minnesota for a pair in Houghton.

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