Playoff scenarios entering final series against Bulldogs

The final two games of the regular season are here and the Lakers are still in a fight for the playoffs.

Coming out of this past weekend, the standings in the 6 thru 9 slots in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) are as follows:

6 (tie) Alabama Huntsville and Alaska – 30 points
8 – Ferris State – 28 points
9 – Lake Superior State – 27 points

Last weekend, the Lakers and Chargers had byes, while Ferris State was swept by Minnesota State and Alaska claimed one point against Bemidji State.  In other words, the Lakers’ bye could hardly have gone better.

While it is entirely possible that Lake Superior could propel itself as high as 6th place after this weekend, the chance that their season ends down at Ewigleben Ice Arena is still in play.

The fact that LSSU and Ferris State play each other is huge.  A sweep by either team will ensure the winner qualifies while the loser stays home.  

Below is an analysis of what will become of Lake Superior given the seven possible point outcomes of this weekend:

0, 1 or 2 points – Lake State finishes with either 27, 28 or 29 points and fails to qualify for the postseason.  Since their opponent is the team directly ahead of them in the standings, failing to take at least half of the points guarantees they will place behind the Bulldogs and not overtake either UAH or UAF.

4, 5, or 6 points – Lake State finishes with either 31, 32 or 33 points, eliminating Ferris State from playoff contention.  4 points on the weekend ensures that the Bulldogs cannot earn more than 30, edging the Lakers past FSU.  Where exactly the Lakers sit in the standings after this is dependent on what happens with UAH and Alaska.  The Chargers host Bowling Green (who will finish either 2nd or 3rd) while the Nanooks play Alaska Anchorage (who will miss the WCHA postseason for the the fourth straight year).

3 points – Earning exactly three points is a dangerous situation.  This will give the Lakers 30 points, while Ferris State will have 31.  Whether the Lakers make the playoffs or not will depend on the results of the previously mentioned games.  Should a three-way tie exist, the WCHA tiebreakers will come into effect.

  • Tiebreaker A – This tiebreaker is only used if all teams have played 4 games against each other.  This is not the case, as LSSU, UAH and UAF all have played each other twice.
  • Tiebreaker B – This one says the teams are seeded in order of the highest number of conference wins.  Currently, UAH and UAF have 9 wins, while LSSU has 8.  In order for a tie to happen at all, UAH & UAF must lose both of their games.  If LSSU earns 3 points from a win, then there is a tie at this tiebreaker.  Should the Lakers get 2 points from a shootout win and 1 from a shootout loss, the Lakers would be eliminated.
  • Tiebreaker C – This tiebreaker seeds teams in order of fewest league losses.  If UAF and UAH both get swept, they would both have 17 losses.  Given that the only way for this tiebreaker to matter is for the Lakers to have a series split, the Lakers would have 16 losses, putting them ahead of both teams.

For those unfamiliar with the WCHA’s tiebreakers, which go all the way to G (a coin toss), they may be found here:  http://www.wcha.com/men/standings.php