St. Cloud State clinched its first-ever WCHA regular season title last Friday with its win at Wisconsin. Then the next night the Gophers got a share of it when they won and the Huskies lost in Madison.
The Huskies celebrated their share of it at the National Hockey Center on Saturday with a postgame MacNaughton Cup presentation by WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod.
"It is like a Stanley Cup, it is a beautiful trophy that means a lot," Gophers coach Don Lucia said of the MacNaughton Cup.
He said his teams at Colorado College and Minnesota have won it seven times. "This is the first time we have been co-champions," he said on a recent radio show. "I assume it will probably go back and forth [for special events]. ... We are close enough that we can do it."
Other co-champions, he said, have taken turns having if for.six months at a time.
Lucia said he is happy for his player, that they get to hang a banner which they can come back and see in 10-20 years when they are "older, balder and heavier."
Even though the Gophers and the Huskies tied for first place with 37 points, SCSU got the No. 1 seed based on tiebreakers, in this case, who had the most victories in WCHA games.
"We're the No. 2 seed, and that's fine," Lucia said.
Actually, someone looking at the Final Five schedule wouldn't know that. The Gophers play in the second semifinal on Friday, in prime time. That's all about money. Whenever Minnesota is in the tournament and has a first-day bye,. the Gophers play in the second game Friday because they draw so well.
SCSU RELIES ON SOLID GOALIE
St. Cloud State has a handful of outstanding forwards, but the Huskies are also strong in the nets. Sophomore goalie Ryan Faragher of Fort Frances, Ontario, has a 22-12-1 record after beating Alaska Anchorage twice last weekend.
He needs three more wins this season to tie the team record of 25 set by Scott Meyer in 2000-01. Faragher owns a 2.27 GAA and a .916 save percentage.
It helps that opponents are rarely on the power play. SCSU is the least penalized team in the country, averaging 8.1 penalty minutes per game. Faragher's teammates block shots, too. Sophomore defenseman Andrew Prochno leads the Huskies with 45 blocks, junior forward Nic Dowd is next with 44.
After scoring 11 goals against UAA, the Huskies are averaging 3.42 goals per game, third among 59 Division I teams.
ONE WIN FOR VETERAN SCRIBE
I had one of my best weeks picking WCHA games last weekend, going 15-2. Picked all six series correctly, but gave myself two loses for predicting the Wisconsin-UMD and Gophers-Bemidji State series to go three games. Joe the Lawyer went 11-6. Maybe I should get a more opponent? -- just kidding Joe. You've beaten me several times this long season, too.
Our picks this week will be out early, sometime Thursday morning because the Final Five starts with Minnesota State and Wisconsin at 2 p.m. that afternoon.
* Lucia said he, his players and Gophers fans loved going up to Bemidji State for the final regular-season series. "They loved facility [the Sanford Center]. The hotel is close. ... We are go up there in October next year," Lucia said. "It is a very good venue. They hit a home run with the facility they build for their community."
* Lucia on freshman goalie Adam Wilcox: "He seems to make critical saves in a key point in the game."
* Five of the six teams in the Final Five will have their pep bands at their games.