How close are the WCHA standings at the top this season?

Well, the Gophers woke up in Madison, Wis., on Sunday morning to find themselves in fourth place in the WCHA race.

Nebraska Omaha passed over them late Saturday night, so did Minnesota State Mankato. But a win over the Badgers on Saturday afternoon in the outdoor game will move them into a tie for second -- one point behind St. Cloud State.

To recap what happened Saturday night:


The red Mavericks, UNO, edge Alaska Anchorage 6-5 in overtime  the 49th state. Johnnie Searfoss, whose name suggests he should be playing for the Seawolves, scored the game-winner with 31.2 seconds left in the five-minute overtime.

Before that, UNO coach Dean Blais made a bold move. With the Mavs trailing 5-4 and his team going on the power play, Blais pulled goalie John Faulkner with 4:24 left to play. That gave UNO a six-on-four and they scored to tie the game.

Josh Archibald got the goal at 16:33 -- 57 second into the power play. It was the 17th goal for Archibald, a sophomore from Brainerd. He has 31 points overall.

Searfoss' goal in overtime was his 10th of the season and second of the game. He scored at 1:09 of the third period to tie the score at 4-4.

UAA scored a season-high four power-play goals. Blake Leask, a freshman defenseman from Edmonton, had two of them.

With the win, UNO improved to 14-8-2 in the WCHA. Those 30 points moved the Mavs into temporary -- the Gophers hope -- sole possession of second place in the conference, one behind idle. St. Cloud State.

But UNO only has four conference games left while SCSU has six.

* UNO plays the under-18 U.S. national team on Thursday and then has the rest of the month off.

* Matt White tied an Omaha school record with four assists Saturday while Ryan Walters, a junior from Rosemount, had a goal and an assist to move into a tie for the NCAA scoring lead with 45 points. He has 19 goals, 26 assists.

* This was the sixth sweep of the season for UNO this season, tying a school record. Five sweeps have come against WCHA teams, one versus Alabama Huntsville. In the conference, the Mavs have swept Michigan Tech, Minnesota Duluth, Colorado College, Bemidji State and this weekend Alaska Anchorage.

* Saturday's win was UNO's first of the season in a game during which the Mavs trailed after two periods. They were 0-10-0 in those games. It was also their first overtime win. Their record in those games is 1-1-2.


Like the score, the shots were a one-sided 38-22 in this game. In the blue Mavericks favor? Nope.

Tech badly outshot the home team but couldn't score. Freshman goalie Stephon Williams made 37 saves, not giving up a goal until MSU led 5-0 and there were six minutes left to play.

Brett Knowles had a goal and two assists for the Mavs, who led 1-0 after the opening period. Zach Lehrke made it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal at 9:33 of the second period. Eriah Hayes' 18th goal of the season, on a power-play, and Matt Leitner's goal with 56 seconds in the period made it 4-0.

Williams leads the WCHA in goals-against average (1.77 to Adam Wilcox's 1.81 for the Gophers) is second in save percentage (.932) and third in winning percentage (17-7-2, .692).

The win put the blue Mavericks in sole possession of third place with a 14-9-1 record and 29 points. But MSU Mankato, like UNO, has only four conference games left.

The Gophers sit at 12-5-4 and 28 points, tied with North Dakota for fourth place. But they can jump over MSU Mankato and tie UNO for second by beating the Badgers in the outdoor game in Chicago. It starts at 3:30 p.m.


The Beavers broke a 12-game, two-month winless streak (0-9-3) by beating UMD 4-2 on Friday and then almost got a sweep at home. Almost, it ended a tie, for a three-point weekend for BSU.

Brady Wacker gave Bemidji State a 1-0 lead at 17:21 of the second period. Cody Danberg scored on a rebound for UMD with 6:47 left in the third period.

Sophomore Andrew Walsh had 36 saves for the Beavers, freshman Matt McNeely 26 for the Bulldogs.

BSU had two goals disallowed in the first five minutes of the game. After reviews, officials determined Radoslav Illo's shot hit a post and Jake Areshenko's shot went into the net off his glove.

The Gophers play at Bemidji State in two weeks to end the regular season.


* With one game left, I'm 6-1 on my WCHA picks so far this weekend. Best showing of a mediocre season of prognostications.

* The WCHA title could well run through Wisconsin. The Badgers play the Gophers this afternoon, then finish with two games at Nebraska Omaha on March 1-2 and two games versus St. Cloud State on March 8-9 at the Kohl Center. UNO is second and SCSU first in the standings through Saturday's games.