Just when you think that you have everything figured out, Saturday rolls along in the WCHA. It goes to the old cliché why the games are played on the ice, not on paper.
Friday’s WCHA tilts went down as expected. Then Saint Cloud and Alaska – Anchorage made the choice to not read the rankings and play the games and win their games completing the Saturday night sweep in the Centennial State, Colorado. Both results kept UMD in second only losing two points in the race for first in the conference during an idle weekend.
Meanwhile, in the prairies of North Dakota, Bemidji State and UND were having their way with #1 Miami. BSU beating them Friday and NoDak tying the Redhawks on Saturday.
So what is the news here? The race for the McNaughton Cup is going to be tight if the first part of the season hold to form. The second is that UMD ahs their work cut out for them the next three WCHA series. The Bulldogs straddle the holiday break with home matches against North Dakota, Denver, and Colorado College. If UMD plans to make a run to the top, these games will be the pathway, the key, the “take us seriously” games. Even though UMD is at #12 in the USCHO and USA Today/USA Hockey polls, the upcoming opponents are currently at #3, #2, and #6 respectively in the USCHO poll (the positions are the same in the USA Today poll except CC is #6), they have yet to play the top teams and prove that they deserve the accolades bestowed upon the WCHA elite.
A night of upsets Saturday sets the stage for the showdown games against the others striving for McNaughton.