St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko coined a term for his worries after his team’s loss to Wisconsin in Friday’s WCHA Final Five semifinals. Bubble trouble, he called it, referring to the Huskies’ suddenly unsettled prospects for making the NCAA tournament.
Before Friday’s game, the Huskies were tied for seventh in the PairWise Rankings, which mimic the numerical formula used to select the 16-team field. The 4-1 loss pushed them down into a tie for 11th. Upsets in other conference tournaments mean the Huskies are now in a precarious position as they await the announcement of the NCAA field on Sunday.
Motzko’s team has an 8-3-1 record against teams that will make the tournament. But it went 3-5 in nonconference games, which he said is haunting the Huskies.
“We just have to sit and wait and learn a lesson,’’ said Motzko, whose team is 23-15-1 overall. “I just hope we get an opportunity to play. No question, a couple of things happened to put us on the bubble, but we deserve to be in that tournament.’’
North Dakota will be waiting, too, though its place in the NCAA tournament is secure. Thursday’s quarterfinal loss to Colorado College ended its string of three consecutive WCHA playoff titles and kept it out of the championship game for the first time since 2009.
Senior forward Danny Kristo of Eden Prairie said he didn’t know how to feel Thursday night, since he had never been in the position of losing at the Final Five. Coach Dave Hakstol said his team would salve its wounds and move on as quickly as possible.
“Once we work through the disappointment, we’ll turn it into a positive,’’ Hakstol said. “Make no mistake, we wanted to be playing [Friday]. But we accept the reality of the situation.”
Wisconsin goalie Joel Rumpel made an unusual play against St. Cloud State when his stick came out of his hands and slid into the crease to stop a puck.
With the score tied 1-1 late in the first period, the Huskies were swarming the net. Nic Dowd’s shot bounced off Rumpel’s loose stick just inches from the goal line. Officials ruled another player knocked the stick out of his hands, though Rumpel said it came loose when the puck hit the knob of the stick. Badgers coach Mike Eaves acknowledged that a different ruling could have been a turning point in a tight game.
Lucia to coach Team USA?
USA Hockey will hold a news conference Saturday at Xcel Energy Center to announce the head coach of the U.S. team that will compete at the 2014 world junior championships in Sweden. It has been reported that Gophers coach Don Lucia will get the job.