The Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s hockey team will end the WCHA regular season this weekend in Bemidji against the Bemidji State Beavers. Minnesota heads into the weekend knowing if they take care of business and get some help from Ohio State they have a chance to win their first WCHA Regular Season Championship since 2015. But the Wisconsin Badgers won’t be likely to want to hand over the crown.
Minnesota currently sits in second place in the WCHA with 52 points on the season. They trail Wisconsin by two points with each team having two games remaining. While Minnesota is up in Bemidji facing the fourth place Beavers, Wisconsin is hosting third place Ohio State. All four games between the four schools will have impacts on the final seeding as not only are Minnesota and Wisconsin fighting for the regular season crown and bye into the WCHA Frozen Face-off, but OSU, Bemidji and UMD are all locked in a battle for the final two home ice slots in the first round of the playoffs. The Bulldogs may be in the drivers seas as they play last place Minnesota State and currently are only one point back of the beavers and five of the Buckeyes.
Minnesota will need some help from Ohio State if they want to try and nap the regular season crown. At bare minimum the Gophers will need to record two points more than Wisconsin this weekend—but that’s where it gets complicated. Even if the Gophers gain to more points than Wisconsin to tie for the crown—the Badgers most likely will take the #1 seed doe to the WCHA tiebreakers. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, and the second tiebreaker is league wins. The third tiebreaker is league losses. The fourth tiebreaker, which actually could come into play here, is the number of goals scored during the two teams’ four-game regular season series. Wisconsin currently has one more league win than the Gophers, and they currently have the same number of losses. Should it come down to it, Wisconsin would win on the fourth tiebreaker as they have one more goal scored.
So basically the only way Minnesota can win the WCHA outright is for the Gophers to sweep the Beavers and get some help from Ohio State to take one game from Wisconsin in regulation or OT. Otherwise the Badgers will be the #1 seed and Minnesota will host a first round playoff series against either Minnesota State or St. Cloud State next weekend.
The Gophers have no worries about NCAA seeding as they and the Badgers are the clean cut #1 and #2 in the pairwise at the moment. Whomever wins the WCHA Tournament will most likely be the #1 overall NCAA seed, with the other school being the #2.
Nicole Gets a Patty Nod:
Gopher senior Nicole Schammel was announced as one of ten semifinalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award on Sunday. The honor is given annually to the best women’s college hockey player. Schammel leads the Gophers and the WCHA with 41 points and 29 assists on the season. She has been the breakout offensive star for Minnesota this season surpassing several more well known Minnesota players.
Minnesota and Bemidji State will face off at 3PM both Friday and Saturday. Games can be streamed on flohockey.com ($$) with free live audio and stats available on www.gophersports.com.