MANKATO — The Minnesota State men’s hockey team will host Northern Michigan in the first round of the WCHA playoffs, starting Friday at the Verizon Wireless Center.
The first round is a best-of-three-games series. Games are at 7:07 p.m. Friday, Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday. The winner advances to the WCHA Final Five, which will take place March 21-22 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“The goals at the beginning of the year was to get home ice (for the first round) and try to get to the Van Andel and get into the NCAA tournament,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said after his team’s tie with Michigan Tech on Saturday, which dropped MSU to the league’s No. 2 spot. “All three of those are still attainable.”
Minnesota State’s first-round opponent was not known until late Saturday night when Alaska Anchorage defeated Alaska to snag the sixth seed and set up a rematch in Fairbanks, Alaska, between the in-state rivals in the playoffs. In the other first-round series, top-seeded Ferris State will host Bemidji State and Bowling Green will host Michigan Tech.
Tickets for the Minnesota State-Northern Michigan series will go on sale today at the civic center box office as well as through Ticketmaster. Minnesota State went 3-1-0 against the Wildcats this season. The Mavericks swept them 3-2 and 3-0 in Mankato on Dec. 6-7, and the teams split a series, with MSU losing 5-2 and winning 5-1 on Jan. 31-Feb. 1 in Marquette, Mich. The win in the latter series began an eight-game winning streak and a nine-game unbeaten streak to close the regular season.
That run put the Mavericks in position to win the WCHA championship and get the No. 1 seed for the tournament. But they fell one point short with Saturday’s tie.