How are the WCHA tiebreakers determined? According to a league press release, the following procedures will be used to break ties: a) If two or more teams are tied, head-to-head competition during the regular (conference) season will be used to break the tie. b) If two or more teams are still tied after that, the highest seed will go to the team with the most conference wins. c) If the teams played a four-game series during the regular season and the teams have the same number of WCHA wins, the team having the least number of goals scored against it in the series shall have the higher rank. d) If the teams are still tied or played a two-game series, the team with the greatest winning margin during the regular season will have the higher rank.
So who holds the tiebreakers? Head to head, Minnesota State holds tiebreakers over Wisconsin and St. Cloud State. Minnesota has the tiebreaker over MSU. St. Cloud State has the tiebreaker over Minnesota. Wisconsin has the tiebreaker over St. Cloud. If Minnesota sweeps Duluth this weekend, it will be tied with Wisconsin and have a 1-1-2 record, but the Badgers, who have wrapped up the regular season, will have more conference wins. (I hope that's all correct.)
The Scarlet Gopher has been dying for my prognostications for a couple of weeks. Here goes: I really think the Mavericks will end up fourth and host the Gophers in the first round of the WCHA tournament. How crazy will that be in downtown Mankato for two or three nights? That means St. Cloud State will play Wisconsin, and the Huskies need to take two points from No. 1 North Dakota to get that series at the National Hockey Center.
What's wrong with the Mavs' penalty kill? This question was posed after MSU allowed three PPGs each in losses to Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College. The next night, the Mavericks stopped CC on five power-play opportunities, including a third-period kill Saturday in which they allowed no shots. I think the biggest factors were: a) UNO had the best power play in the country, and the Mavericks were simply flat all night last Tuesday and b) Colorado College has an outstanding power play with Chad Rau and Jack Hillen, both of whom showed why they're first-team all-WCHA players Friday.
What about the power play? The Mavericks have been moving the puck well lately, just not scoring. That has to get better in the playoffs. But I like what Kael Mouillierat's been able to do around the net lately. He was very good both 5-on-5 and on the PP against Colorado College.
A few questions about the Alltel Center: 1. Did Mankato's request for money for a new ice sheet/women's rink get shut down? and 2. Will this year's improved attendance give the Alltel Center reason to expand seating to the north end of the arena? First, I haven't found where the Senate committee recommended funding for the project that was proposed last summer, but I was told today that it is currently in the Senate bill but not the House. Not sure what that means at the moment, but I do understand the argument for getting state funding when Duluth, St. Cloud and Bemidji are getting more. ... As for expanded seating, I doubt that would be at the top of the priority list when it comes to improving the existing arena. There has been talk of a suite/Blue Line Club room with windows overlooking the north end of the rink. But I also think it needs a scoreboard, expanded locker rooms and a press box.
Any word on R.J. Linder's injury Saturday night? Not sure right now. He wasn't at the rink at the end of practice Monday and the team had Tuesday off. We should know more about his status Wednesday or Thursday. As for Saturday, Linder skated out of the rink under his own power in the second period and was on the bench to watch the comeback in the third and OT.
Finally ... Who will be covering Mankato West at the state tournament this week? I will. PucKato will try to get an update or two on the blog tomorrow.