The stretch run begins this week in the NCHC and it should be quite the finish.
With five weeks to go in the season, every team has played the same number of league games. Every team plays only conference games from here on out. And no team has another week off.
If that doesn’t heat up the race enough, take a look at the standings.
Minnesota Duluth, which would be on the road in the first round if the NCHC playoffs started today, is only one game out of first place. There’s a three-way tie for second place, including UND and Nebraska Omaha, two teams that will face off in Ralph Engelstad Arena this weekend.
At this point, six of the eight teams could win the league title. Only Miami and Colorado College have taken themselves out of the race.
The other race that everyone will be watching is the Pairwise one. Right now, Duluth is surging and St. Cloud State is slipping. We’ll see where it goes from here.
Below, I posted the NCHC teams in the Pairwise alongside their record in nonconference play. You can see how if you screw up in nonconference like Omaha, even if you are in the race for the conference title (UNO is just one point out), it can kill you in the Pairwise.
NCHC in Pairwise Rankings
10. St. Cloud State (6-2-2)
11. Minnesota Duluth (5-3-2)
15. North Dakota (5-2-3)
22. Denver (6-3-3)
25. Western Michigan (6-3-3)
28. Miami (6-2-2)
30. Nebraska Omaha (3-7)
50. Colorado College (0-9-1)