Almost everything fell into place for the Gophers on Senior Night on Saturday. They beat Denver 5-1, scoring four goals in the third period. Michigan Tech upset St. Cloud State at the National Hockey Center by the same 5-1 score and Bemidji State tied North Dakota 2-2 in overtime at The Ralph.
So here is how the top half of the WCHA looks:
St. Cloud State, 35 points ... Huskies play at Wisconsin's Veterans Memorial Coliseum next weekend, still chasing first WCHA regular-season title. .... Why is series not at Kohl Center: Boys basketball state tournament is there Thursday through Saturday.
Gophers, 33 ... U got help from Michigan Tech and needs help from the Badgers next weekend to catch SCSU. ... Gophers play at Bemidji State
North Dakota, 33 ... Lost point in title chance by tying Bemidji State at home. ... UND plays at Minnesota State next weekend
Wisconsin, 31 ... outside chance to tie for title, but only if Huskies lose two
Minnesota State, 31 ... in same spot as Badgers
If two ot more teams tie for first place, they are declared conference cochampions
Theoretically, as many as four teams could tie for first next weekend. Here is that scenario:
* St. Cloud State is swept at Wisconsin, so Huskies finish with 35 points
* Wisconsin, with sweep, also finishes with 35
* Gophers split at Bemidji State to finish with 35 pts.
* UND splits with Minnesota State to finish with 35
* Minnesota State Mankato could be that fourth team in the tie by sweeping UND, in which case North Dakota would not be among the teams sharing the MacNaughton Cup
DIFFERENT GOPHERS TEAM SHOWS UP
After a flat performance on Friday in a 2-0 loss to Denver, the Gophers were much better on Saturday. They fired 43 shots on the Pioneers' net, including an empty-net goal
* Redshirt junior Zach Budish had two goals and two assists, Erik Haula had three assists and Sam Warning had a goal and an assist
* Junior center Nick Bjugstad got the game-winner midway through the third period. He scored from the left circle on s power play after a pass from Haula. It was his 17th goal of the season.
* The Gophers scored three goals in 3 minutes, 52 seconds, starting with Bjugstad's goal. He scored from his favorite spot on the power play. Near the dot in the left circle. He shoots left-handed.
* Gophers coach Don Lucia said the Gophers showed much more resolve on Saturday than the night before.
* FSN analyst Doug Woog said that Haula was as tough as a corncob after Saturday's game.
* Named the three stars of the game were three Gophers: No 1 star Haula, No. 2 Budish and No. 3 Bjugstad.
With Alaska Fairbanks beating Alaska Anchorage late Saturday night, I edged Joe the Lawyer in this weekend's picks, 9.5-4.5 to 9-5. Can't get any closer than that.