Week 25: Broncos, Huskies look to punch tickets; Big Ten Tourney at The Joe this weekend

One more week before the NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Tournament gets underway across the country. We have four teams in the state of Michigan wrapping up conference tournaments this week with potential bids on the line.

This Sunday, March 19 is Selection Sunday for college hockey. Who’s in and who’s out?

BIG TEN TOURNAMENT – JOE LOUIS ARENA

Hats off to Michigan for finding some sort of groove to end the season. They pulled off a rather surprising sweep of No. 11 Penn State at home last weekend, outscoring the Nittany Lions 7-2 in the two games. They finished the season winning four of five after a 1-8-2 stretch., posting an overall record of 13-18-3 (6-12-2 Big Ten).

Unfortunately for Michigan State they could not produce the same fortune in their final regular season series. The Spartans went 0-1-1 last weekend in Minneapolis against No. 5 Minnesota and were held to just one goal in the two games played. They finish at 7-23-4 (3-14-3 Big Ten). Barring some miraculous run, it will be their lowest win total in a single season since the 1977-78 season.

Now the scene shifts to Joe Louis Arena for the Big Ten Tournament, which gets underway Thursday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit. The six-team league will play the tournament over three days and all games will be broadcasted live in Big Ten Network. Here is the complete schedule:

  • THURSDAY, MARCH 16
    • Game 1: (3) Ohio State vs. (6) Michigan State | 4:30 p.m. ET
    • Game 2: (4) Penn State vs. (5) Michigan | 8 p.m. ET
  • FRIDAY, MARCH 17
    • Game 3: (2) Wisconsin vs. Game 1 Winner | 4:30 p.m. ET
    • Game 4: (1) Minnesota vs. Game 2 Winner | 8 p.m. ET
  • SATURDAY, MARCH 18
    • Championnship Game: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner | 8 p.m. ET

MICHIGAN TECH HUSKIES

Survive and advance… again. That’s what Michigan Tech did last weekend at home against Minnesota State during the WCHA semifinals.
The Huskies took down the Mavericks in three games up in Houghton, outscoring them 9-3 (including being shut out in game two). Freshman forward Gavin Gould was the Houghton hero last weekend. Gould was responsible for four of the team’s nine goals against MSU, including his first career hat trick in the 4-1 series clincher. He now has 11 goals on the year, fourth Husky in double-digits, and the hat trick was his second multi-goal game this year.

The final regular season standings could have very well played a factor in the series. Tech (54) finished three points better than Minnesota State in league play, ultimately resulting in home ice for the series. Tech is 11-4-4 at home this year, just 10-9-3 on the road. The Mavericks meanwhile are 13-3-3 at home, but under .500 away from Mankato.

Now comes the WCHA Championship. No series, just one game to decide it all. And to the surprise of some, the Huskies will face the conference 4-seed Bowling Green on Saturday (03/18), at home up in Houghton, at 7:07 p.m. ET. The Falcons impressively swept top-seed Bemidji State on the road last weekend and now are also flirting with a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS

One step closer. That’s likely the mantra surrounding the Western Michigan hockey program right now as they draw near their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011-12.

The Broncos survived a three-game series at home against Omaha last weekend, after losing the first game 2-1 in overtime. Now they meet up with NCHC 3-seed Minnesota-Duluth, who swept Miami (OH) last weekend to advance.

These two teams met just two weeks ago in Kalamazoo. The Broncos and Bulldogs played to a split, each scoring 10 times in the two games played. Now it’s just one game and this time, it’s a virtual road game for WMU.

The semifinal and championship games in the NCHC this weekend will be played at Target Center in Minneapolis. The match-ups were determined by reseeding after the quarterfinal match-ups last weekend. The other semifinal is 1-seed Denver playing 4-seed and defending national champion North Dakota. It’s very likely we see at least three of these teams make the NCAAs, regardless of who wins this weekend.

Here is the schedule for this weekend’s festivities. The two semifinal games and championship game can be seen on CBSSports Network, while the consolation game can be seen on NCHC.tv:

  • FRIDAY, MARCH 17
    • Semifinal 1: (2) MN-Duluth vs. (3) W. Michigan | Approx. 5 p.m. ET
    • Semifinal 2: (1) Denver vs. (4) North Dakota | Approx 8:30 p.m. ET
  • SATURDAY, MARCH 18
    • Consolation Game: Semifinal 1 Loser vs. Semifinal 2 Loser | 4:30 p.m. ET
    • Championship Game: Semifinal 1 Winner vs. Semifinal 2 Winner | 8:30 p.m. ET