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Win-win situation/Inside the Huskies

Inside the Huskies

February 28, 2012
By Stephen Anderson - DMG Sports Writer (sanderson@mininggazette.com) , The Daily Mining Gazette

Michigan Tech hockey cannot finish in the top or bottom four spots of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings, but the Huskies (currently seventh with 26 points) could finish in any of the middle four spots with four points up for grabs in this weekend's regular season finale at Colorado College (tied for fifth with Nebraska-Omaha with 27 points).

I feel somewhat vindicated for picking Tech ninth in the media poll - when most others picked them dead last. But that's beside the point.

In all reality, no matter what happens at World Arena, it's a win-win situation for Tech - in several ways.

Most literally, if they win Friday and win Saturday, they'll have home ice in the playoffs for the first time since 1993 - regardless of what any other teams do.

If Tech earns three points, the Huskies will earn home ice unless St. Cloud State also sweeps Minnesota-Duluth. In that scenario SCSU would earn it based off the second tiebreaker: most WCHA wins (Tech would have 12, SCSU 13). The first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition. The third is least goals allowed among tied teams (if a four-game season series is played between them), and the fourth is winning margin in WCHA games.

Perhaps it's a little much to expect Tech to earn three or four points on the road against a team they're 0-7-1 against in their last eight meetings.

But that brings me to my next point: recent statistics are useless in predicting this year's results. That we're even discussing something that hasn't happened since 1993 should prove that.

After all, Tech went into then-No. 1 Duluth and took three points earlier this year, and Saturday's win over St. Cloud snapped a six-game losing streak - and 15 of the previous 16 games - against the other Huskies.

Those are the stats that matter most.

Before I get to some more stats that may make Tech fans even happier, here's a quick look at what'll happen if Tech gets two, one or zero points at CC.

Earning home ice with just two points at CC would be a little trickier. SCSU would almost surely have to get less than three points. Additionally, they'd also need UNO to only get a point at home against Denver (and that's assuming Tech's two points came from a win and not two ties).

Let's just say there's a chance Tech, SCSU and UNO could all have 28 WCHA points. Tech and SCSU would have 12 WCHA wins (again assuming Tech's two points came from a series split) and UNO 11, and since the third tiebreaker wouldn't qualify for the two Huskies teams, it would boil down to goal-scoring margin in WCHA games (currently plus-3 for Tech and plus-11 for SCSU).

If Tech earns one or zero points, it will be on the road in the WCHA playoffs, almost surely against UNO or CC.

I guess that wasn't quite a quick look, but at least now you know.

Here's the real quick summary tweeted by sports editor Brandon Veale (@redveale): "Looking at Tech's home ice chances for next weekend: 4 pts: Will; 3 pts: Probably; 2 pts: could; 1 or less: won't."

Now, back to those stats Tech fans should like.

So much focus has been put on the Huskies earning home ice that it's easy to forget Tech's recent home vs. away results.

Tech is 1-3-1 in its last five games at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena and 2-2-1 in its last five road games - including games at North Dakota and UMD.

Obviously that's not to say Tech wants to play on the road in the WCHA playoffs, but it should prove the Huskies have a legitimate shot at reaching the WCHA Final Five regardless of where their first-round series is played.

Tech coach Mel Pearson may have summed it up best during a speech at Sunday's Blue Line Club Senior Celebration brunch: "One thing I can tell you about this team is on any given night they can beat anybody. They've proven that. They beat Wisconsin twice earlier in the year. They beat Denver. They beat Minnesota - in Minnesota. They beat Duluth - in Duluth. ... Whether we get home ice or not, I think we can really make some damage in the playoffs."

Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Stephen Anderson can be reached at sanderson@mininggazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/steander.

 
 

 

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