Denver now sits atop WCHA after North Dakota split

In the weekend’s lone non-conference action, Colorado College made easy work of southerners Alabama-Huntsville.

by John Hageman

While the Gophers took the weekend off, things got even more interesting around the rest of the WCHA.

Now that the dust has settled, Minnesota remains in a tie for sixth place with Colorado College; both teams are fighting for home-ice advantage in the conference playoffs.

Meanwhile, the top of the standings was scrambled, with Denver gaining the top spot over Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota. All three are separated by a point.

Nebraska Omaha (13-9-2, 10-6-2) at North Dakota (18-7-2, 13-5-0)

After suffering a nail-biting 3-2 loss at the hands of the Gophers last Friday, the Sioux fell behind 7-1 to UNO this Friday before losing 8-4. They allowed five power-play goals as well as a short-handed tally.

It looked like UND might not recover the next night, but the Sioux tied the score at 1-1 with 12:55 in the final period. Thanks to Justin GregoireâÄôs two goals and an assist, they opened the flood gates and went on to earn the split with a 4-2 win Saturday.

Alaska Anchorage (7-12-3, 6-10-2) at Denver (16-5-5, 12-3-3)

As the Sioux stumbled, Denver capitalized with a sweep of Alaska Anchorage. With the wins, Denver remains unbeaten in its last eight games and takes its spot at the top of the conference.

Beau Bennett broke a 2-2 tie with 9:22 left in the game Friday, and after allowing the first goal Saturday, the Pioneers scored three first-period goals and never looked back on their way to a 5-1 win.

Minnesota-Duluth (17-5-3, 12-4-2) at Michigan Tech (3-18-3, 1-14-1)

Even at home, Michigan Tech didnâÄôt have a chance.

The WCHA bottom-dwellers failed to score a goal all weekend, and UMD completed an easy sweep to keep pace with conference-leading Denver.

The Bulldogs have next weekend off before hosting the Gophers on Feb. 4-5.

Minnesota State (10-11-5, 4-11-3) at Wisconsin (17-8-3, 9-7-2)

The Badgers edged Minnesota State by a goal Friday and Saturday, earning a sweep and putting a bit of daylight between themselves and the Gophers and Colorado College in an otherwise muddled middle of the WCHA pack.

Wisconsin goalie Scott Gudmandson stuffed 37 of the 39 shots he saw Friday night to give the Badgers a 3-2 win, and Craig Smith scored the game-winning goal just over four minutes into the final period Saturday to seal the sweep.

St. Cloud State (11-11-2, 7-8-1) at Bemidji State (9-13-2, 5-11-2)

Bemidji State came into the weekend on a bit of a roll, going 4-1-1 in its last six games. But the Beavers couldnâÄôt defend their home ice and were swept by St. Cloud State.

Nic Dowd gave the Huskies the game winner Friday night in overtime for a 2-1 victory.

St. Cloud State didnâÄôt leave any room for a close game Saturday, as it scored the first five goals of the game and took a 5-1 win.

Alabama-Huntsville (3-23-2) at Colorado College (14-11-1, 8-8-0)

In the only nonconference matchup of the weekend, Colorado College took advantage of overmatched visitors from the south, earning 7-0 and 4-1 victories.

The easy wins donâÄôt help Colorado College in the conference standings, however, as they are still tied with the Gophers for sixth.