In my 2007-2008 WCHA Midseason Report, I lamented the fact that “as in recent seasons, (North Dakota’s) disappointing first half has all but dashed any hopes of hoisting the MacNaughton Cup.”
What a difference a second-half surge makes.
At the time of the article, UND had a conference record of 9-7-0. Colorado College sat at 15-3-0, and Denver was second at 12-4-0.
Fast forward to the last weekend of the regular season, and the records are now:
Colorado College..19-6-1 (39 points)
North Dakota……….18-7-1 (37 points)
Denver………………….16-9-1 (33 points)
In other words, while North Dakota has gone 9-0-1 in the WCHA, Colorado College (4-3-1) and Denver (4-5-1) have collected just four victories each.
I also wrote in that same report that “(Denver’s) home and home series against Colorado College on the last week of the regular season may well decide the conference race.”
Truer words were never spoken. I didn’t know at the time, however, that I’d be talking about the race between Colorado College and North Dakota.
So the league is in an interesting situation. Where does the MacNaughton Cup go? My guess is that the Cup will be in Denver for Friday’s matchup between CC and DU, as a Tigers victory would clinch a share of the league title. Colorado College would also clinch a share with a North Dakota loss on Friday night. UND is hosting a two-game series against St. Cloud State this weekend.
If CC loses and UND wins, we have a problem. Both schools would have 39 points in league play with one game remaining. What would the WCHA do?
I spoke with Doug Spencer, Associate Commissioner for Public Relations in the league office, and he told me he was “99% sure that the MacNaughton Cup is in Colorado”. This stands to reason, because Colorado College had a sizeable lead heading into last weekend’s games. Doug also told me that Bruce McLeod certainly has a handle on all of the various scenarios, and that he (Doug) would let me know more of those details (including whether the league has been in conversation with the University of North Dakota) later on this week.
Teams which have shared the MacNaughton Cup in the past have staggered their trophy presentations over two weekends, with one school hoisting the Cup during the last weekend of the regular season and the other school waiting until the first round of the WCHA playoffs.
Jim Dahl has a great overview of the WCHA possibilities, including each team’s remaining games and how they will affect the race.
Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments and suggestions.