wcha final five capsules
At Xcel Energy Center • TV: FSN
Thursday quarterfinals: Minnesota State Mankato vs. Wisconsin, 2 p.m.; Colorado College vs. North Dakota, 7 p.m.
Friday semifinals: Minnesota State Mankato/Wisconsin winner vs. St. Cloud State, 2 p.m.;
Colorado College/North Dakota winner vs. Gophers, 7 p.m.
Saturday championship: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.
Mavericks at a glance: The tournament’s fifth seed, MSU Mankato (24-12-3) moved up to No. 8 in the USCHO.com poll this week, the highest national ranking in program history. This marks the Mavericks’ third appearance in the Final Five; they lost to the Gophers in the quarterfinals in 2000 and 2003. They split four games with the Badgers this season, sweeping them in Madison in November and getting swept at home in two overtime games in January. In the first round of the WCHA playoffs, MSU was pushed to a third game by Nebraska Omaha but never trailed in Sunday’s 3-1 victory. First-year coach Mike Hastings has led MSU to eight victories in its past 11 games. Freshman G Stephon Williams, the WCHA rookie of the year, is tied with the Gophers’ Adam Wilcox for the league’s best goals-against average (1.84) and has a .929 save percentage with four shutouts. The Mavericks’ power play is ranked second in the WCHA (23.5 percent).
Badgers at a glance: Wisconsin (19-12-7) enters its 19th Final Five appearance on a roll, with only five losses in its past 28 games. The Badgers are ranked 14th in the USCHO.com poll and are in a five-way tie for 16th in the most recent PairWise rankings, putting them on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. They have the second-best scoring defense in the WCHA (2.05 goals per game), backstopped by goalies Joel Rumpel and Landon Peterson. Rumpel has started 10 of the past 11 games and leads the WCHA with a .932 save percentage and has a 1.87 goals-against average; Peterson’s numbers (.926, 2.01) are right behind. F Michael Mersch leads the Badgers with 23 goals, second-most in the WCHA; freshman F Nic Kerdiles has seven goals and 19 assists.
Tigers at a glance: A first-round upset of Denver gives the Tigers (16-18-5) a chance to win their first Broadmoor Trophy as WCHA playoff champions. Colorado College, which finished eighth in the league standings, lost the first game of the series 5-3 before earning a pair of one-goal victories behind the goaltending of Joe Howe, who stopped 78 of 82 shots. CC split four games with North Dakota in the regular season. F Rylan Schwartz (17 goals, 31 assists) is tied for the fifth-leading scorer in the WCHA, while D Mike Boivin (14 goals, 14 assists) is fourth among league defensemen in scoring. The Tigers have given up a WCHA-high 135 goals.
North Dakota at a glance: The only team to win three consecutive Broadmoor Trophies, No. 6-ranked North Dakota (21-11-7) will try to make it four in a row in its final season in the league. It is on an eight-game winning streak at the Final Five; its last loss was to Wisconsin in the third-place game in 2009. Coach Dave Hakstol has a 32-9 record in the WCHA playoffs over nine seasons, with a 15-5 record at the Final Five. The program is making its 11th consecutive Final Five trip, tying a record set by the Gophers from 1999-2009. F Danny Kristo (24 goals, 26 assists) is the nation’s third-leading scorer, and F Corban Knight (15 goals, 33 assists) is the seventh. North Dakota is 8-3-2 since Feb. 1 but only 5-6-3 this season against other Final Five teams.