Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday Morning Skate

It's playoff time in the WCHA!

Yes, it seems just a bit early for it, but that's because of the new, Final Five-less format that will take place over the next three weekends.

In Mankato, Minnesota State will take on Alaska in the first round. The Mavericks are the third seed, but have had some of the best individual performances of the season at a couple of places, notably defenseman Daniel Brickley, the pride of Utah, who might have become the third D-man ever to lead the WCHA in scoring if not for an injury that caused him to miss eight games early in the season.

For more on the matchup with the sixth-seeded Nanooks, read the Freep's College Hockey Gameday.

Based on the teams' games this past season, no one should be surprised if the series is decided in a third game on Sunday night, the Fairbanks Daily News Miner writes. They split in Fairbanks, and, in Mankato, MSU won the first game and, following a tie in the second, Alaska won in a shootout. The Nanooks are coming off a sweep of rival Alaska Anchorage, winning the Governor's Cup between the two teams for the fifth time in a row.

Here's a look at the other playoff matchups:

1-Bemidji State vs. 8-Northern Michigan: The Beavers won the MacNaughton Cup and what's their reward? A matchup with the Wildcats and their record-setting goalie Atte Tolvanen. Expect a defensive battle between these two teams. "I don't think anyone was doing cartwheels having to play Northern Michigan," BSU coach Tom Serratore told the Bemidji Pioneer. The Wildcats squeaked into the eighth spot, but now it's a whole new season for them.

2-Michigan Tech vs. 7-Lake Superior State: The Huskies, like many team are looking for some secondary scoring, to get through this matchup between Upper Peninsula teams. It was something Tech started to see in their final games of the regular season. The Lakers are 0-4-4 in their last eight games, but three tiebreaker wins, including one Saturday, gave them the seventh seed.

4-Bowling Green vs. 5-Ferris State: The Falcons got the home-ice edge on the Bulldogs on the final weekend of the season, but Ferris will come to town hot, having lost just once in its last seven games. has a good feature on Bowling Green's Pohlkamp brothers from Baxter, Minn. The Falcons were the WCHA-favorite before the season started. They didn't win the MacNaughton Cup but they still have goals in sight.

Read WCHA playoff previews from USCHO and College Hockey News. And learn more about the playoffs on the Inside the WCHA show.

Wondering what I think will happen this weekend? I made some bold predictions in my Tuesday column.

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