But here we are, heading into the final week of the regular season. The Nanooks finish off their showing at home with a less than stellar 5-8-1-0 season record. The LSSU series was an interesting one. Tempers flared in the first game, ending with 115 penalty minutes being assessed after a skirmish broke out during the handshake line, infamously highlighted by the Nanooks 3rd string goalie Niko DellaMaggiore earning a game DQ for facemasking, and LSSU equipment manager Paul Prucha crossing the line and shoving Nanooks' captain Brandon Morley. Neither of which should have happened, but the latter being completely inexcusable.
Nevertheless, four out of a possible six points to close out the home schedule isn't a bad run, neither is going 2-1-1 this season against LSSU when the conference point standings are coming down to the wire and LSSU finishing their season at home against Ferris State.
Speaking of conference standings, lets take a peak at what those look like entering the final weekend.
Nobody can catch Bemidji, they've already wrapped up the MacNaughton Cup. Michigan Tech closes out with a home-and-home against Northern Michigan, and can fend off Mankato if they're able to muster at least 4 points due to Mankato owning a 2-1-1 head to head advantage. But MTU or the Mavericks will end up hosting the first round in either 2nd or 3rd place. The last playoff spot rides on Ferris State, Bowling Green, or the Nanooks. Bowling Green hosts a desperate UAH team, and Ferris goes on the road to the Lakers, which has about the highest seeding implications among all of the series this weekend.
The Nanooks have statistically the most favorable match-up against the last-place Seawolves. I think we all know that we can toss the records out the window here, but ACC can finish no better than 8th place with 32 points - and that's wholly dependent on Northern Michigan getting 0 points and UAH getting only 1 this weekend as the Seawolves lose the head-to-head tiebreaker to both teams, including LSSU, who already sits at 32 points.
The Nanooks sit in a much better spot. With a potential six point weekend, and a Bulldog and Falcon meltdown, the Nanooks could host a first round playoff series in fourth place. Regardless of how things shake out here, the Nanooks are 1-0-1 against FSU, so the tiebreaker here comes to conference wins. Should the Nanooks sweep, and Ferris get swept both teams would end up with 11 conference wins and the Nanooks would win the tie breaker due to the head to head matchup. The only way the Nanooks can leap BG is a sweep against Anchorage, the rest of that fate lies in the hands of the UAH Chargers.
Most of this what-if-nonsense is best/worst case figures. All of the variance and splits introduce a whole other world of probability that I'll leave to Geof Morris to help figure out. Of course numbers mean very little after the puck is dropped...
On that note, a lot of eyes will be watching these games this weekend. The Nanooks have hoisted the Governor's cup seven consecutive times now. Just to put that into perspective, Nanook rookies Troy Van Tetering and Tristan Thompson were still in the 7th grade the last time that trophy lived in Anchorage. Broadening that out, the Nanooks have won 12 of the last 15.
The Nanooks don't have much of a scoring threat to worry about except for Mason Mitchell (who I will attest for being a stellar human being, he really is. Despite his school choice). A few guys have a few more points than he does, but he is the team's lone 10 goal scorer, double that of the next closest guy. Matt Anholt has broken the 20 point mark, which bests any Nanook player thus far. But beyond the top four Seawolf scorers, the stats take a bit of a dive to 9 points. The Nanooks have 10 players with 10 or more points to their credit, which will be needed to crack Mantha, assuming he starts.
The Nanooks have been playing quite well since their eye-opening weekend in South Bend. Despite running into Tolvanen in the middle of his hot streak, our guys were making all of the right plays to get in scoring position. This weekend is going to be about controlling the transition game and limiting Anchorage's offensive zone possession time.
I have no doubt that Nanook fans will show up in droves this weekend to the Sullivan. There will be a bus load of students, and I've heard "See you in Anchorage" countless times since Saturday. This should be a fun one.