Senior Kent Patterson of the Gophers is the WCHA goaltending champion, which is based on a goalie's goals-against average in conference games.

Patterson started all 28 conference games and played in every period but one. His GAA was a league-best 2.06. North Dakota senior Brad Eidsness, who barely played the minimum 33 percent required to be considered, was second with a 2.19 GAA. Denver freshman Juho Olkinuora, who got a chance to play a  lot  because the Pioneers' first two goalies were injured,  was third with a 2.32 GAA.

Patterson was third in save percentage at .918, trailing Josh Thorimbert of Colorado College (.929) and Eidsness (.919).

Thorimbert also was first in winning percentage (12-4-1, .735) while Patterson was second (20-8-0, .714).

The Gophers staff nominated Patterson as their team's candidate for WCHA Player of the Year. The all-WCHA team and other awards will be announced next week.

Jack Connolly of UMD was the WCHA scoring champion. The senior center had 16 goals and 27 assists for 43 points, six clear of everyone else.

Three players tied for second: UMD's J.T. Brown (16-19-37) and Denver teammates Jason Zucker (19-16-37) and Drew Shore (14-23-37). Sophomore center Nick Bjugstad finished 13th in league scoring. Bjugstad had 16 goals and 13 assists for 29 points.


The Gophers, who won an outright WCHA title last weekend, face an intriguing opponent this weekend in the first round of the conference playoffs in Alaska Anchorage.

The Seawolves ended the Gophers season a year ago at Mariucci with a two-game sweep, winning 4-3 and 2-0. This season the No. 4/5 Gophers and UAA met only once in Anchorage on Oct. 28 and 29. The Gophers won the first game 5-0, but had a harder time to win the second game 3-1.

In other first-round series:

* Minnesota State plays defending NCAA champion Minnesota Duluth. UMD won their series 3-0-1. The Bulldogs won 5-2 and 7-3 at Amsoil Arena on Nov. 18-19, and won 4-2 and tied 4-4 in overtime in Mankato on Feb. 17-18.

* Wisconsin plays at Denver. They split at the Kohl Center on Feb. 17-18. DU won the first game 3-0, the Badgers the second 5-2. The Badgers finished the regular season on a 4-1 run, winning three times on the road.

* Bemidji State plays at North Dakota, the WCHA playoffs champions a year ago. The two teams split at the Sanford Center on Nov. 19-20. UND won the first game 5-2, BSU the second 1-0. The Fighting Sioux are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games.

* Michigan Tech plays at Colorado College for the second weekend in a row. The Tigers swept Tech 5-2 and 2-0 last weekend in their only series this season.

* Nebraska Omaha plays at St. Cloud State. UNO had home ice in their sights until getting swept at home by the Gophers and Denver the past two weekend. The Huskies finished 5-2-1. In their only meeting this season, UNO beat St. Cloud State 4-3 and tied the Huskies 2-2 in OT on Nov. 26-27 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha.


After the first-round series, the six surviving teams will advance to the Final Five at the X in St. Paul. The teams will be reseeded and the top two will receive quarterfinal byes on Thursday. The schedule:

Thursday's quarterfinals

No. 6 seed vs. No. 3, 2:07 p.m.

No. 5 vs. No. 4, 7:07 p.m.

Friday's semifinals

Winner of No. 6 vs. No. 3 game vs. No. 2 seed, 2:07 p.m.

Winner of No. 5 vs. No. 4 game vs. No. 1 seed, 7:07 p.m.

Saturday's championship

Friday's winners, 7:07 p.m.


The schedule for this weekend:

WCHA Playoffs

First Round • Best-of-Three

Games Friday and Saturday

 Alaska Anchorage (9-23-2, 12) atGophers (24-12-1, 1), 7:07 pm

 Minnesota State (12-22-2, 11) at Minnesota Duluth (22-8-6), 7:07 pm

Wisconsin (16-16-2, 10) at Denver (21-11-4, 3), 8:37 pm (8:07 pm Sat.)

Bemidji State (17-16-3, 9) at North Dakota (20-12-3, 4), 7:37 pm (7:07 pm Sat.)

Michigan Tech (14-18-4, 8) at Colorado College (18-14-2, 5), 8:37 pm (8:07 pm Sat.)

Nebraska Omaha (14-16-6, 6) at St. Cloud State (15-16-5), 7:37 pm (7:07 Sat.)

Games Sunday (if necessary)

(12) Alaska Anchorage at (1) Minnesota, 7:07 pm

(11) Minnesota State at (2) Minnesota Duluth, 7:07 pm

(10) Wisconsin at (3) Denver, 8:07 pm

(9) Bemidji State at (4) North Dakota, 7:07 pm

(8) Michigan Tech at (5) Colorado College, 8:07 pm

(7) Nebraska Omaha at (6) St. Cloud State, 7:07 pm


WCHA teams in the two national polls this week:   

                                USA Today

UMD                                 3                            3

Gophers                          5                            4

Denver                             9                            9 

North Dakota                12                          12

Colorado College       18                          ---