Final day playoff scenarios

It’s going to be a frantic couple of hours tonight as the Chargers get once last chance to make this year’s WCHA playoffs.

UAH plays Bowling Green tonight at the Slater Family Ice Arena at 6 p.m. Central Time for the regular-season finale.

UAH lost 7-0 on Friday in the series opener. Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan also lost, making for no change in 7th through 9th place in the WCHA standings.

Lake Superior has 33 points, Northern Michigan has 31, and UAH has 30. One of these teams will not make the playoffs.

For UAH to get in, they have to get more points against Bowling Green than Northern Michigan gets at home against Michigan Tech tonight. The Chargers will have the tiebreaker advantage over the Wildcats, either by having more conference wins (“B” tiebreaker) or having swept NMU earlier this season (“D” tiebreaker).

In summary, UAH gets a playoff berth if:

  • UAH wins (3 pts) and NMU ties (1-2 pts) or loses (0 pts).
  • UAH ties and wins in 3×3 OT/shootout (2 pts) and NMU loses in 3×3 OT/shootout (1 pt) or regulation (0 pts).
  • UAH ties and loses in 3×3 OT/shootout (1 pt) and NMU loses in regulation (0 pts).

If UAH loses in regulation, or if NMU wins in regulation, it’s over.

The above alone would ensure UAH the 8th seed. There is also a scenario where UAH would get the 7th seed, but UAH, NMU, and Lake Superior must finish in a three-way tie, which is only possible if:

  • UAH wins (in regulation).
  • Lake Superior loses to Ferris State (in regulation).
  • Northern Michigan ties Michigan Tech and wins in 3×3 OT/shootout.

In fact, this is the only way Lake Superior does not get in — they would be the odd team out with the fewest conference wins of the three.

Elsewhere:

  • Michigan Tech secured the 2nd seed with its win over Northern Michigan. Minnesota State will be the 3rd seed after losing to Bemidji State.
  • Bowling Green and Ferris State will meet in the first round in the 4-5 matchup — now it’s a question of where it will be. They are tied for 4th, with BGSU holding the tiebreaker for home ice.
  • Alaska clinched the 6th seed and will go to Minnesota State in the first round.
  • Alaska Anchorage is eliminated and will finish 10th after its loss to Alaska.

Full list of playoff scenarios by the WCHA

Stage is set for UAH’s final chance at the WCHA playoffs

WCHA standings
Top 8 make playoffs
Pts. Record Next
x-Bemidji State 61 19-5-2-2 vs. MSU
y-Michigan Tech 51 14-6-6-3 at/vs. NMU
y-Minnesota State 48 14-8-4-2 at BSU
z-Bowling Green 38 12-13-1-1 vs. UAH
z-Ferris State 38 11-12-3-2 at LSSU
Alaska 34 9-13-4-3 at UAA
Lake Superior 33 8-12-6-3 vs. FSU
N. Michigan 31 9-14-3-1 vs./at MTU
UAH 30 9-14-3-0 at BGSU
AK-Anchorage 26 6-14-6-2 vs. UAF
x-Clinched regular season championship
y-Clinched home ice in first round
z-Clinched playoff berth

The Chargers are very much alive for a WCHA playoff spot after the results of league games during UAH’s bye week.

UAH, currently in ninth place with 30 points, is on the outside looking in heading into the regular-season final series at Bowling Green. The Chargers will need points against the Falcons and some outside help to reach the postseason.

UAH got some help this weekend with Northern Michigan getting swept by Minnesota State in Mankato, keeping the Wildcats only one point ahead of UAH with that eighth and final playoff spot.

If the Chargers can get one more point at Bowling Green than NMU can get at home against Michigan Tech, UAH should take eighth. UAH has the “D” tiebreaker (head-to-head with fewer than four games played) over Northern Michigan thanks to its sweep in Marquette in December.

UAH could reach as high as sixth place, but they’ll need to sweep Bowling Green and get a lot of help.

Here are the matchups for the final week of the WCHA regular season:

UAH at Bowling Green: The Falcons swept the Chargers in Huntsville by scores of 4-1 and 8-3, but the games were closer than the scores indicate. The first game was a one-goal affair until BG scored with less than two minutes to go and then added an empty-netter. UAH had the lead going into the third in the second game and was down only one halfway through the third before the Falcons again added another late goal and empty-netter (plus two garbage goals afterward). Last season, UAH stunned Bowling Green with a 7-5 win in the final weekend.

The Falcons will have something to play for themselves, however. They are tied with Ferris State for fourth place, which gets you home-ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

Michigan Tech at/vs. Northern Michigan: This is the most important series to keep an eye on if you’re a Charger fan. The Huskies and Wildcats will play at NMU on Friday and at MTU on Saturday. Back in October, Michigan Tech swept a home-and-home series over Northern Michigan 2-0 and 5-1.

Michigan Tech has secured home-ice in the first round, but could be home for the semifinals as well should it hold off Minnesota State for the second seed.

Ferris State at Lake Superior State: Lake Superior State is in seventh, three points ahead of UAH. The Lakers own the “A” tiebreaker (head-to-head) by winning all four meetings with the Chargers this season. UAH will need at least a win and a tie against Bowling Green and Lake Superior to be swept for the Chargers to pass them.

Ferris State swept LSSU in the series at Ferris in November. The Bulldogs are tied with Bowling Green for fourth place and home ice in the first round.

Alaska at Alaska Anchorage: Alaska is in sixth, four points ahead of UAH. The Nanooks also have the “A” tiebreaker over UAH with a 2-1-1 head-to-head record.  UAH will likely need to sweep Bowling Green and Anchorage to sweep Alaska for the Chargers to catch the Nanooks.

The teams split the first half of their Governor’s Cup series in Anchorage in December. Anchorage has to sweep Alaska and needs UAH and NMU to be swept to make the playoffs.

Minnesota State at Bemidji State: This series has no bearing on UAH’s chances. The Beavers will be celebrating their MacNaughton Cup win while the Mavericks try to snatch the second seed from Michigan Tech.

Scoreboard watching this bye week

WCHA standings
Top 8 make playoffs
Pts. Gms Next
5. Ferris State 32 4 vs. UAA
6. N. Michigan 31 4 @ MSU
6. Lake Superior 31 4 @ UAF
8. Alaska* 30 4 vs. LSSU
8. UAH 30 2 Idle
10. AK-Anchorage 27 4 @ FSU
* Alaska has the tiebreaker over UAH (2-1-1 head-to-head)

The Chargers are off in this penultimate week of the regular season, which means we’ll be scoreboard watching.

UAH is currently tied for the eighth place in the WCHA standings. The Chargers are tied with Alaska for the final playoff spot, but Alaska has the tiebreaker thanks to the Nanooks’ 2-1-1 record against UAH this season.

This means the Chargers must get points next week in the final series at Bowling Green and get some help, including this week.

So, who do we root for this week that will help UAH’s chances?

Alaska Anchorage at Ferris State: The crazy thing about the standings right now is that only two points separate fifth (where Ferris State is) from ninth (where UAH technically is). And it’s only five points between Ferris State and last-place Alaska Anchoarge.

Obviously, we don’t want Alaska Anchorage, which is only three points behind UAH, to catch and pass the Chargers. UAH really only needs to pass one team, and Ferris State is the least likely the one to be passed, so it might be best to have Ferris State keep UAA down so UAH doesn’t have to worry about the Seawolves.

Root for: Ferris State to at least get four points.

Northern Michigan at Minnesota State: Northern Michigan is on an absolute tear, going 7-0-2 in its last nine (and as mentioned before, has shut out opponents in its last five). The Wildcats , tied for sixth and just a point ahead of UAH, go to Mankato to play a Minnesota State team that’s in third place and has already clinched a spot in the playoffs (and looking to be home for the first round).

Root for: This one’s easy — Minnesota State to sweep.

Lake Superior State at Alaska: This one’s trickier. Both clubs have “A” tiebreakers (four-game head-to-head advantage) over the Chargers. Lake Superior is only a point ahead, and Alaska is tied.

Remember that UAH only needs to beat out one of these teams to make the playoffs. We want is for whoever is closest to UAH to stay as close as possible, and right now that’s Alaska. So, we should want Lake Superior to win to keep UAH and Alaska tied.

However, should Alaska win on Friday, then Alaska jumps ahead of Lake Superior, and the Lakers become our new target. In that case, we’ll want Alaska to win Saturday.

What we don’t want is a split, which would put distance between UAH and both teams.

Root for: Lake Superior State first. If Alaska wins the first game, root for the Nanooks to sweep.

Parker named WCHA player of the week

Brandon Parker (UAH Athletics)

Brandon Parker (UAH Athletics)

After scoring two goals to lead the Chargers of a road sweep at Northern Michigan, Brandon Parker was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.

On Friday, Parker scored from just inside the blue line in what would be the game-winning goal in UAH’s 4-1 victory. On Saturday, he put the finishing touches on a 3-1 win with the final goal with 4:07 left in the contest.

Parker added an assist on Friday for a three-point weekend. He has scored goals in three straight games and in four of the last five. The Faribault, Minnesota native was +3 on the weekend and blocked two shots.

It is the fourth time this season a Charger has earned the WCHA Defensive Player Award. Kurt Gosselin won it last week for the second time, and Matt Larose won the first award of the season.

UAH next plays in the first round of the Mariucci Classic at Minnesota against Massachusetts on Dec. 30. The Chargers return home Jan. 6-7 against Minnesota State.

UAH, picked 9th, looks to ‘turn the corner’

The Chargers were picked to just miss the WCHA playoffs this season by the coaches and media, selected to finish ninth in both preseason polls released Tuesday during the league’s preseason media teleconference.

Last season, UAH finished in last place with a 5-17-6 conference record, falling four points short of a playoff berth. UAH head coach Mike Corbett, now in his fourth season at the helm, says it is time for the Chargers to “turn the corner.”

“Our group has taken a lot of punches over the course of the last three years,” Corbett said. “Some well deserved. But we’ve taken a lot of punches and yet my guys have gained a lot of experience playing North Dakota, St. Cloud, and Colorado College, along with the WCHA schedule because every night it’s a battle. My team and I have grown together over the course of the last three years.”

Seniors Brent Fletcher and Matt Salhany, along with junior Max McHugh, who led the Chargers in scoring the past two seasons, will be the Charger captains this season.

“Those guys are leading us,” Corbett said. “Our two goaltenders, Matt Larose and Carmine Guerriero, and Brandon Carlson and Regan Soquila, our seniors: Those are the guys will be leaning on heavily. They’ve seen it all in college hockey, from a program that folded to a team that was not very good in their freshman year, moving up into the WCHA, being in every game, giving ourselves a chance to win.

“We’ve got a full complement of Division I players in our lineup right now. To me, the biggest thing is to be able to add depth.”

The top eight teams in the WCHA make the playoffs, which have a new twist: All playoff games will be held at the rinks of the higher seeds, with best-of-3 quarterfinals and semifinals, and a single-game championship.

WCHA games will also be worth three points in the standings, with an extra overtime of 3-on-3 hockey for five minutes following the traditional 5-on-5 overtime, and a shootout if the game is still tied after that. Winners get three points for a win in regulation or the 5-on-5 overtime, two for a win in 3-on-3 OT or the shootout. Losers in the 3-on-3 OT or the shootout get one point.

“These new changes with the playoff format and the overtime changes, and the NHL nets, will make for an exciting and fantastic year,” WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson said.

“We are concentrating on making the existing WCHA as strong as it can be for our member institutions. We want to be proactive and progressive.”

2016-17 Mankato Free Press WCHA Men’s Hockey Preseason Coaches’ Poll 

Team (1st Place Votes) Pts.
1. Bowling Green (8) 89
2. Michigan Tech (2) 79
3. Minnesota State 71
4. Ferris State 70
5. Northern Michigan 54
6. Bemidji State 48
7. Lake Superior State 44
8. Alaska Anchorage 29
9. UAH 23
10. Alaska 21


Preseason WCHA Player of the Year: 
Gerald Mayhew, Sr. F, Ferris State (7 votes)
Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year: Parker Tuomie, F, Minnesota State (4 votes)
Preseason All-WCHA Team:
F Gerald Mayhew, Ferris State
F Dominik Shine, Northern Michigan
F Brandon Hawkins, Bowling Green (tie)
F Corey Mackin, Ferris State (tie)
D Mark Friedman, Bowling Green
D Matt Roy, Michigan Tech
G Chris Nell, Bowling Green

2016-17 Bemidji Pioneer WCHA Men’s Hockey Preseason Media Poll 

Team (1st Place Votes) Pts.
1. Bowling Green (15) 251
2. Michigan Tech (6) 239
3. Minnesota State (5) 236
4. Ferris State (2) 218
5. Northern Michigan 161
6. Bemidji State 144
7. Lake Superior State 106
8. Alaska 68
9. UAH 56
10. Alaska Anchorage 50


Preseason WCHA Player of the Year: 
Gerald Mayhew, Sr., F, Ferris State
Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year: Cameron Clarke, D, Ferris State
Preseason All-WCHA Team:
F Gerald Mayhew, Ferris State
F Dominik Shine, Northern Michigan
F Tyler Heinonen, Michigan Tech
D Mark Friedman, Bowling Green
D Matt Roy, Michigan Tech
G Chris Nell, Bowling Green

UAH’s Max McHugh received votes for WCHA player of the Year. UAH’s Connor James and Austin Beaulieu received votes for WCHA Rookie of the Year.

Geof Morris and Michael Napier of UAHHockey.com participated in the media poll. Here are our ballots:

Geof Morris’s ballot:

  1. Bowling Green
  2. Michigan Tech
  3. Minnesota State
  4. Ferris State
  5. Northern Michigan
  6. UAH
  7. Bemidji State
  8. Lake Superior State
  9. Alaska Anchorage
  10. Alaska

Preseason All-WCHA:
G Chris Nell, Bowling Green
D Mark Friedman, Bowling Green
D Sean Walker, Bowling Green
F Tyler Heinonen, Michgan Tech
F Gerald Mayhew, Ferris State
F Max McHugh, UAH
Player of the Year: Chris Nell, Bowling Green
Newcomer of the Year: Austin Beaulieu, UAH


Michael Napier’s ballot:

  1. Bowling Green
  2. Michigan Tech
  3. Minnesota State
  4. Ferris State
  5. Northern Michigan
  6. Bemidji State
  7. Lake Superior State
  8. UAH
  9. Alaska
  10. Alaska Anchorage

Preseason All-WCHA:
G Chris Nell, Bowling Green
D Mark Friedman, Bowling Green
D Sean Walker, Bowling Green
F Tyler Heinonen, Michigan Tech
F Gerald Mayhew, Ferris State
F Dominik Shine, Northern Michigan

Player of the Year: Tyler Heinonen, Michigan Tech
Newcomer of the Year: Parker Tuomie, Minnesota State