Thursday, February 19, 2009

WCHA Points at Stake

As if you can't put any more emphasis on the two games this weekend, how about home ice for the WCHA playoffs AND a potential NCAA invite hanging in the balance?

Tigers want to be home for WCHA playoffs

In a week, Colorado College should have a better idea if it can make plans for a home series in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.

The Tigers host a pair of games this weekend against Minnesota, which is sixth in the WCHA. The Gophers are a point behind CC, but the Tigers have played one more league game. The top five teams in the WCHA host first-round playoff series.

The Tigers are 10-8-5 in the WCHA, tied for fourth with St. Cloud State. CC had a chance to make a move in the standings but settled for a tie against Denver in its only game of the weekend.

"That makes this series even more important," coach Scott Owens said.

The Tigers were the second team among others receiving votes in Monday's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. Air Force didn't receive any votes after splitting a pair of games at Bentley.

CC and Air Force are tied for 20th in the U.S. College Hockey Online PairWise rankings, which mimic the NCAA Tournament selection committee's rankings. Usually a team needs to be in the top 12 or 13 to receive an at-large bid to the NCAAs.

The Tigers' immediate concern isn't the NCAA Tournament, but their seeding in the WCHA playoffs. The Tigers are two points ahead of seventh-place Minnesota-Duluth and three points behind third-place Wisconsin. North Dakota and Denver are tied for first with 29 points, four ahead of CC.

"I think we're just right in the middle," Owens said. "We're right there, and it's going to be a battle."