An exciting weekend of WCCHA Interdivisional action – and some important results for battling teams – saw some significant movement in the league KRACH Rankings. With just two weeks left in the WCCHA regular season, the table is set for a barnstorming finish to tournament qualification.
12 of 14 league teams were in action with the Southeast Division hosting the Northwest Division for round 2 of Interdivisional action. This time around, the Northwest teams struck back after a near sweep by the Southeast in the first weekend, but a number of impressive performances resulted in a change in status among the league teams. (Composite Schedule | Standings)
In the battle of division leaders, Minnesota took game one from Wisconsin by a score of 7-3, handing the Badgers their first league loss of the season. On the brink of a sweep, though, Wisconsin nipped game 2 in overtime 4-3 to earn a share of the points – and tease a potentially monumental showdown at the 2023 WCCHA Tournament.
In Duluth, the Bulldogs of Minnesota-Duluth earned perhaps the biggest wins of their season, fending off the challenge from a hot Minnesota-Crookston team with two wins – 6-4 on Saturday, and 5-4 via shootout in Sunday. With a series sweep, UMD earned the biggest jump in the KRACH Rankings and look to be on relatively solid footing for what is still a wildcard berth into the Carla Berg Cup Playoffs.
St. John’s and Jamestown both earned crucial sweeps to strengthen their respective resumes, with the Johnnies dispatching Gustavus Adolphus by scores of 6-5 and 7-2, while the Jimmies saw off the Minnesota State Mavericks 7-4 and 9-0. In doing so, both moved up into the top 8 – but St. John’s, currently holding a Wildcard position, could yet snatch the direct qualfication spot via top 3 division finish with at least 2 wins out of their remaining 4 Division games.
In the remaining two series, Southeast members St. Thomas and UW-Eau Claire took care of business in high scoring sweeps. The Tommies cast aside the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota 7-1 on Saturday and 9-0 on Sunday, while the Blugolds trounced the Bethel Royals by margins of 17-1 and 11-0.
The 2022-2023 WCCHA regular season will culminate over the next two weeks, with the race to qualification likely to come down to the final game on February 5. Once that game – St. Cloud State vs. Winona State – goes final, the last KRACH Rankings will be calculated and released to confirm our field for the 2023 WCCHA Tournament.
Latest KRACH Rankings See Major Movement in Mid-Table Teams
As the dust settled on the latest round of WCCHA play, the impact of the results came into focus upon the release of the latest WCCHA KRACH Rankings.
Despite dropping their first game of the WCCHA regular season, Wisconsin maintained their overall #1 spot after completing the comeback victory on Saturday against Minnesota to split the series. St Thomas also held steady at #2 with an emphatic sweep of North Dakota. Meanwhile, the aforementioned split in Madison saw Northwest winners Minnesota rise 2 spots to the #3 overall spot.
Making a big move up was Minnesota-Duluth, who completed an eye-popping sweep of Minnesota-Crookston to climb two spots up to #4. Their climb meant that despite a weekend sweep over Bethel, UW-Eau Claire slipped to #5. The biggest drop in the Rankings was suffered by Minnesota-Crookston, who left Duluth 3 places lower than they started the weekend at #6.
Arguably the biggest winner of the winner, St. John’s also used a strong weekend performance to rise 3 spots to #7 – a spot that, if the season ended today, would qualify the team for their first ever trip to the WCCHA Tournament as a wildcard. However, the Johnies have 4 division games left, and can claim an automatic berth should they win at least 2 of those games.
If that happens, #8 Jamestown – up one spot – would be in a precarious position. The Jimmies finished their WCCHA schedule this past weekend with two big wins against Minnesota State, who dropped 2 spots and out of the current pool of qualifiers to #9. The Jimmies current path to qualification is shaky given the Johnnies can still pass them in the Division and will be watching the Mavericks’ remaining games closely. MSU-Mankato has some big opportunities left to potentially push up the rankings in the final two weeks, with series against Winona State and Minnesota-Duluth.
Also dropping two spots is #10 Gustavus Adolphus after losses to St. John’s. The Gusties – currently on outer edges of the qualification bubble – need a massive weekend against UW-Eau Claire to ressurect their chances at the tournament. #12 Winona State, #13 North Dakota, and #14 St. Cloud State all remained rooted in their previous positions.
Just two weeks remain before the tournament field is set, but all 17 games left on the schedule could impact the final outcome. Will this week’s rankings hold, or do we have suprises in store? Avid fans and casual followers alike will be watching closely to see who earns thier spot on the #RoadToCarla and into the 2023 WCCHA Tournament set for Feb. 12-14 in Blaine, Minnesota.