There is one weekend left of regular-season conference games. If the season were over, the first-round WCHA playoff schedule would be:
Alaska Anchorage at Minnesota ... rematch of last year when the Seawolves swept the Gophers at Mariucci
Minnesota State at Minnesota Duluth ... Purple Mavericks three points out of 10th place. Unlikely to move up.
Bemidji State at Denver ... Beavers have struggled of late after good stretch in middle of season
Wisconsin at North Dakota ... Fighting Sioux finishing strong. Looking like NCAA tournament team
St. Cloud State at Colorado College ... two skating teams on big ice
Michigan Tech at Nebraska Omaha ... Tech just one point behind UNO and CC, so this could easily change
If the Gophers finish second outright in the WCHA -- they can't finish any lower than that -- they would probably face the purple Mavericks (MSU Mankato) at Mariucci in the first round. That would be a much tougher matchup than UAA.
Next weekend, the Gophers host Wisconsin, coming off a sweep at Bemidji St., while UMD, a good road team, plays at St. Cloud State.
The Gophers have won 12 MacNaughton Cups. Four regular-season conference titles came in the 1980s. The others two per decade. Here is a rundown:
1950s: '53 and '54
1960s: shut out
1970s: '70, '75
1980s: '81, '83, '88, '89
1990s: '92, '97
2000s: '06, '07
2010s: none so far
* The only plus players for the Gophers on Saturday were Kyle Rau, Nick Bjugstad and Nate Schmidt, all plus-1. Nico Sacchetti and Nate Condon were minus-2.
* Freshman goalie Ryan Massa of UNO only had two saves before he was pulled with the Mavs trailing 2-1 at 9:20 of the first period after golas by Mark Alt and Rau
* Rau led the Gophers with four shots on goal, Alt had three
* Derek Shepherd and Marco Hunt were the referees. They only called three penalties on the Gophers, six on UNO.
* Schmidt had assists on the Gophers' first two goals, raising his season total to 30. ... Erik Haula had assists on Rau's two power-play goals, which gives Haula 23 helpers.
* CenturyLink Center does not provide shot charts ... but UNO hit at least one pipe on Saturday. Joe Krause's shot created a big clang sound with just over eight minutes to play in the middle period.
RAU HEATING UP
Until scoring two goals on Saturday, Rau only had two in 11 games since competing in the World Juniors over the holidays.
Now Rau has a six-game points streak, with three goals and five assists for eight points in that stretch.
He scored two goals in the Gophers' third game of the season -- a 5-4 overtime victory at UMD -- but has not had another two-goal game until last night.