UPDATED: Sunday in the WCHA (End of an era edition)

The 61st WCHA regular-season was all but completed Saturday night with five games and defending MacNaghton Cup champion Minnesota claimed a share (with St. Cloud State) of the 2013 title by winning 5-1 at Bemidji State.

Final first-round playoff pairings were decided following Denver’s 6-1 home win over Alaska Anchorage on Sunday afternoon. Minnesota Duluth (14-17-5) will open the best-of-three league post season at Wisconsin (17-12-7), 7:07 p.m. each night.

Other first-round pairings: Alaska Anchorage at St. Cloud State; Bemidji State at Minnesota; Michigan Tech at North Dakota; Colorado College at Denver; and Nebraska-Omaha at Minnesota State-Mankato.

Sunday’s game in Denver marked the end of a regular season of the WCHA as we know it. The league will be made over into a 10-team conference for 2013-24 with many new faces.

UMD completed its fourth sweep of the season, at home, with a 6-0 win over No. 16 Nebraska-Omaha. The Bulldogs are 4-0-1 the last five games. Recaps from the News Tribune here and Omaha World-Herald here.

In WCHA final statistics (league games only): Omaha’s Ryan Walters won the scoring title with 16-24-40, Omaha’s Josh Archibald led in goals (18), St. Cloud State’s Drew LeBlanc led in assists (25), Mankato freshman Stephon Williams led in goals-against average (1.93) andWisconsin sophomore Landon Peterson led in save percentage (.928). Tech’s Alex Petan led rookie scoring with 11-18-29, UMD’s Tony Cameranesi was second at 11-17-28 and UMD’s Austin Farley tied for third at 14-12-26. UMD’s power play was second in the league at 23.8 percent behind Minnesota’s 26.5.

Also, Alex Stalock’s determined bid to return to the NHL after a serious injury two years ago, was realized Saturday in goal with the San Jose Sharks. A story from the San Jose Mercury News is here.

At Madison, Wis., Michael Mersch had a pair of goals, including an empty-net score with 73 seconds left, as No. 14 Wisconsin defeated No. 8 St. Cloud State 3-2. Andrew Prochno had both St. Cloud State goals. Wisconsin led in shots 31-20. Joel Rumpel (11-8-4) had 18 saves for the win. Attendance 5,781 at the Dane County Coliseum. From the Wisconsin State Journal here and St. Cloud Times here.

At Houghton, Mich., Colorado College took a three-goal lead and held on to defeat Michigan Tech 4-3. Mike Boivin’s power-play goal gave CC a 3-0 lead early in the second period. Tanner Kero got Tech within 4-3 at :54 of the third period. Tech led in shots 49-24. Attendance 2,669. From the Colorado Springs Gazette here.

At Bemidji, Minn., Erik Haula (16) and Nick Bjugstad (20) got No. 2 Minnesota off to an early lead and the Gophers topped Bemidji State 5-1 for a series sweep. Just three minor penalties in the game. Minnesota led in shots 40-24. Adam Wilcox (23-6-5) had 23 saves for the win. Bemidji State is 1-12-5 the last 18 games. From the Bemidji Pioneer here and Minneapolis Star Tribune here.

At Mankato, Minn., No. 10 Minnesota State-Mankato rallied as Brett Knowles scored with 98 seconds left in overtime to beat No. 5 North Dakota 2-1. Danny Kristo (21) gave North Dakota a 1-0 lead after one period, Mankato tied it in the second and Knowles won it. Mankato led in shots 37-31. Stephon Williams had 30 saves in the win. Attendance 5,088. From the Grand Forks Herald here and Mankato Free Press here.

WCHA Standings and Summaries Courtesy of College Hockey Stats.net

 1 St. Cloud State   37  28 18- 9- 1 .661  94- 66   36 21-14- 1 .597 119- 91
   Minnesota         37  28 16- 7- 5 .661  94- 65   36 24- 7- 5 .736 131- 71
 3 North Dakota      35  28 14- 7- 7 .625  93- 71   36 19-10- 7 .625 117- 89
 4 Wisconsin         33  28 13- 8- 7 .589  69- 64   36 17-12- 7 .569  90- 76
   Denver            33  28 14- 9- 5 .589  92- 81   35 19-11- 5 .614 120- 94
   Minnesota State   33  28 16-11- 1 .589  90- 68   36 22-11- 3 .653 117- 82
 7 Nebraska Omaha    30  28 14-12- 2 .536  92- 91   36 18-16- 2 .528 121-109
 8 Colorado College  26  28 11-13- 4 .464  88- 98   36 14-17- 5 .458 116-126
 9 Minnesota Duluth  25  28 10-13- 5 .446  75- 83   36 14-17- 5 .458  97-102
10 Michigan Tech     20  28  8-16- 4 .357  75- 92   34 12-18- 4 .412 102-104
11 Bemidji State     17  28  5-16- 7 .304  58- 87   34  6-20- 8 .294  70-104
12 Alaska Anchorage  10  28  2-20- 6 .179  52-106   34  4-23- 7 .221  65-122
  Colorado College   4 at Michigan Tech      3       Box   
  Minnesota          5 at Bemidji State      1       Box   
  North Dakota       1 at Minnesota State    2, OT   Box   
  St. Cloud State    2 at Wisconsin          3       Box   
  Nebraska Omaha     0 at Minnesota Duluth   6       Box
  Alaska Anchorage   1 at Denver             6       Box

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