Men's hockey: WCHA playoff matchups
No. 10 Michigan Tech at No. 1 Denver Records: Denver 25-7-4 (19-5-4 WCHA); Michigan Tech 5-28-1 (4-24). Denver player to watch: G Marc Cheverie. The Hobey Baker Award candidate probably won't be tested much this weekend and will get a golden chan...
No. 10 Michigan Tech
at No. 1 Denver
Records: Denver 25-7-4 (19-5-4 WCHA); Michigan Tech 5-28-1 (4-24).
Denver player to watch: G Marc Cheverie. The Hobey Baker Award candidate probably won't be tested much this weekend and will get a golden chance to improve his numbers, which are already fantastic. He could be the first goalie to win Hobey since Ryan Miller in 2001.
Michigan Tech player to watch: F Brett Olson. Tech's best player had to sit out the last three games with an injury, but he could be back this weekend. That's good news for Tech's offense and puck possession game. Olson is the team's best faceoff man.
What's at stake: Denver has locked up a spot in the NCAA tournament, but will want to secure the No. 1 overall seed. A loss to Michigan Tech could put that in jeopardy. The Huskies need to make a miracle run and win the Final Five in order to make the NCAAs.
Our pick: Even if the Huskies play their best, they can't knock off the Pioneers. Denver in two.
No. 9 Alaska-Anchorage at No. 2 Wisconsin
Records: Wisconsin 22-9-4 (17-8-3 WCHA); Alaska-Anchorage 11-21-2 (9-17-2).
Wisconsin player to watch: F Blake Geoffrion. The grandson of an NHLer, Geoffrion is arguably the league's top forward. He plays with an edge and is dynamite on the power play. He led the WCHA in points per game this season.
Anchorage player to watch: F Kevin Clark. The small senior forward is Anchorage's top all-WCHA candidate. Clark finished the season with 23 goals. None of his teammates were in double figures. He also leads the Seawolves in points, power-play goals, shorthanded goals and game-winners.
What's at stake: Wisconsin is in the NCAA tournament no matter what happens in the league playoffs, but the Badgers are aiming for one of the four top seeds. They should be able to get one with a win in the first round. Barring a miracle run to the Final Five title, Anchorage will be done.
Our pick: The Seawolves are never easy to play against, but the Badgers have too much firepower. Wisconsin in two.
No. 8 MSU-Mankato
at No. 3 St. Cloud State
Records: St. Cloud State 20-11-5 (15-9-4 WCHA); MSU-Mankato 15-18-3 (9-17-2).
St. Cloud State player to watch: F Ryan Lasch. The senior is five points away from tying Jeff Saterdalen for the program record (179). Lasch also is inching in on all-time records for games played, assists, power-play goals, hat tricks, game-winning goals and shots.
MSU-Mankato player to watch: F Tyler Pitlick. The nephew of a former Gopher, Pitlick has been one of the most dangerous players for the Mavericks this season. The all-rookie team candidate has scored 10 goals and doesn't shy away from physical play.
What's at stake: The Huskies are ranked seventh in the Pairwise, but could slide into an uncomfortable position if they lose this series. The Mavericks need to win the Final Five in order to advance to the NCAA tournament.
Our pick: St. Cloud State is sliding into the playoffs, but the Mavericks are too inconsistent. St. Cloud State in three.
No. 7 Minnesota
at No. 4 UND
Records: UND 20-11-5 (15-10-3 WCHA); Minnesota 17-17-2 (12-14-2).
UND player to watch: F Jason Gregoire. The sophomore from Winnipeg plays his best in big games. He's been a pest for the Gophers in the past and he appears to be getting hot. Gregoire scored the game-tying and game-winning goals against Tech last Saturday.
Minnesota player to watch: F Mike Hoeffel. If there's anyone on the Gopher roster who has had UND's number, it's Hoeffel. The junior forward has a pair of two-goal games against the Sioux during his career, including three goals in four games this season.
What's at stake: UND is most likely in the tournament, although it doesn't want to have to sit around next weekend and cross its fingers. Minnesota knows it needs to win this series and, at the very least, make it to the Final Five championship game to have a chance at the NCAAs.
Our pick: Only one team has beaten the Gophers in the first round in the last 32 years, so it's a huge task for the Sioux. UND in three.
No. 6 Colorado College at No. 5 Minn.-Duluth
Records: Minnesota-Duluth 20-15-1 (16-11-1 WCHA); Colorado College 18-15-3 (12-13-3).
Minnesota-Duluth player to watch: F Jack Connolly. The sophomore from Duluth is an all-around talent with a nose for the net. He could be a first-team all-conference player, who will make a difference against a speedy Colorado College team.
Colorado College player to watch: D Nate Prosser. The Elk River, Minn., native is doing his best to replace former WCHA defensive player of the year, Jack Hillen. Prosser is a scoring threat from the blue line and is responsible in his own zone.
What's at stake: Minnesota-Duluth is firmly on the bubble in the Pairwise Rankings at No. 15. A series loss would likely end the Dogs' season. Colorado College needs to move up from its current spot at No. 21 in order to get an at-large bid.
Our pick: Colorado College is better than its record and could spoil the last games in the DECC. Colorado College in three.