The top seeds survived and the WCHA Final Five pairings are set — just the way you thought — for St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
With updated PairWise Rankings being used: No. 11 Minnesota Duluth (22-16-1) faces. No. 5 North Dakota (22-12-5), at 7:07 p.m. Thursday. In Friday’s semifinals, No. 3 Wisconsin (24-9-4) vs. No. 6 St. Cloud State (22-12-5), at 2:07; and No. 1 Denver (27-7-4) vs. UMD or North Dakota at 7:07 p.m. On Saturday, third-place at 2:07 and championship at 7:07. All games televised on FSN North.
Better than the NCAA tournament? Well, not better as significant, but more highly-ranked teams for a five-team field, and certainly a lot more fans.
What happened Sunday night in three WCHA deciding games? Three home teams won. St. Cloud State had to go to overtime to eliminate Minnesota State-Mankato 3-2; North Dakota broke from a 1-1 tie to eliminated Minnesota 4-1; and UMD scored first and last in eliminating Colorado College 4-0.
The victory at the DECC not only got the defending league playoff champion to the Final Five, it bumped the Bulldogs momentarily off the bubble for the NCAA tournament and up five spots to No. 11. The PairWise Rankings are here.
Final Five ticket information is below along with women’s Frozen Four ticket information as the No. 2 UMD women face No. 3 Minnesota at 8 p.m. in Friday’s semifinals at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
In Grand Forks, N.D., the Gophers were in a 1-1 tie after one period, helped by a Jake Hansen goal. But North Dakota had the only goal of the second period, by Jason Gregoire, and added goals in the third from Matt Fratting and Brett Hextall. The Fighting Sioux led in shots 29-19, scored twice on power plays and are 9-1 the past 10 games. Minnesota had been to the Final Five for 11 straight years. There was some rough stuff, including Frattin hitting Minnesota’s Kevin Wehrs. The Grand Forks Herald game story is here.
"This is probably as difficult of an environment as there is in college hockey. And the guys really went toe-to-toe right to the end tonight," Minnesota coach Don Lucia told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
In St. Cloud, Minn., the Mavericks of Mankato led 1-0 and 2-1 before Garrett Raboin tied the game with 7:31 left in the third period. In OT, Hermantown’s Drew LeBlanc scored on a power play at 3:21 as St. Cloud State moved on, finishing 2-2-1 vs. Mankato the last two weekends.
"As you can imagine, this is exciting as can be," LeBlanc told the St. Cloud Times."You get the puck like that and your eyes light up. I was darned near on top of the crease, so I figured I had to shoot that one."
At the DECC, Kyle Schmidt scored less than 3 minutes into the game and Kenny Reiter got his second home shutout of the season and the Bulldogs defeated Colorado College for the second straight year to open the league playoffs. UMD was at home for the post season for first time since 2004. The Colorado Springs Gazette game story is here.
FINAL FIVE TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets can be purchased at the Xcel Energy Center Box Office, Ticketmaster ticket centers, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. To charge by phone using Ticketmaster TDD/TTY, call 800-359-2525. Groups (10+) call 651-312-3486.
Prices for single game tickets:
Thursday, March 18: Quarterfinal: 7 p.m. – $20 / $15
Friday, March 19: Semi-Final #1: 2 p.m. – $35 / $15
Friday, March 19: Semifinal #2: 7 p.m. – $45 / $15
Saturday, March 20: Third Place Game: 2 p.m. – $25 / $15
Saturday, March 20: Championship Game: 7 p.m. – $45 / $15
A limited number of five-game ticket packages for the tournament are also still available.
AND THE UMD WOMEN ARE in the NCAA Frozen Four starting Friday at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, vs. Minnesota in the semifinals at 8 p.m.
Tickets are still available for the 2010 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four. Fans can purchase tickets through the Golden Gopher ticket office (612-624-8080) or online through gophersports.com.
2010 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four Schedule • Ridder Arena • Minneapolis, MN
Friday, March 19
Semifinal Game 1: No. 4 Cornell vs No. 1 Mercyhurst, 5 p.m.
Semifinal Game 2: No. 3 Minnesota vs No. 2 Minnesota Duluth, 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 21
National Championship Game: Winner of Semifinal Game 1 vs Winner of Semifinal Game 2, Noon