WCHA Weekend Roundup: UNO gets week off, but remains in hunt


By Nate Tenopir, Editor-in-Chief

Weekend results in the WCHA have left UNO in a tie for third place with North Dakota and Denver.  In one of the bigger matchups of the conference schedule, Minnesota hosted North Dakota and went 1-0-1 to take over first place.
The Golden Gophers are joined at the top by St. Cloud State who went 2-0 at home against Denver.  Minnesota and St. Cloud pace the WCHA with 22 points.
Overall, despite not playing, it’s hard to think of a better outcome for the Mavs.  The teams most likely standing in UNO’s way for the conference crown gained ground, but only marginally.
If you compare each of the team’s remaining schedules, there is a clear path to winning the MacNaughton Cup for the Mavs.  Characterizing UNO’s road to the trophy as easy would be a mistake.
But it is less difficult than almost any other team in the top half of the WCHA.
Minnesota leads but has eight of their remaining 12 games against the top half of the conference.  The Gophers play three of those on the road and five at home.
St. Cloud State only plays 4 of their final 12 against the top seven, but eight of those final 12 are on the road.  Like Minnesota, North Dakota plays eight of the final 12 against the top seven.
UND’s road/home split is an even 6-6.  Denver has only 10 games remaining, six against the top half of the conference.
The Pioneers play four of those six on the road.  
Minnesota Duluth also has 10 conference matchups left.  Eight of those are against the top seven, but only two are on the road.
Minnesota State plays 10 more, six against the top seven, three on the road.
UNO’s final 12 includes only four against the top half of the WCHA.  Two are home against North Dakota, and two are at Minnesota Duluth in the final series of the year.
Of course as things shake out in the conference, all of this is subject to change.  The difference between first place and sixth place is just three points.
But even though there may be flux among the top six or seven teams, the Mavs get most of their remaining games against the very bottom of the conference.
Other than matchups with sixth place Duluth and eighth place Wisconsin, UNO gets 10th place Bemidji State this weekend, 11th place Michigan Tech the week after and last place Alaska Anchorage Feb. 15-16.