- 2016 WCHA Final Five: The WCHA will crown its playoff champion this weekend at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., as tournament top-seed Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, Bowling Green and Ferris State will compete for the prestigious Broadmoor Trophy and the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The two-time defending champion Mavericks will face the Falcons in Friday's first semifinal at 4:07 p.m. ET, while the Huskies and Bulldogs will skate in the second semifinal at 7:37 p.m. ET. The two winners will face-off at 6:07 p.m. ET Saturday night in the championship game.
- FOX Sports: Through the league's exclusive broadcast partnership with FOX Sports North, all three games of the 2016 WCHA Final Five will be aired live on FOX Sports North (second semfinal on FOX Sports North PLUS), FOX Sports Wisconsin Alternate and FOX College Sports Atlantic. FOX Sports Detroit PLUS will carry both semifinals live and will air a tape-delayed broadcast of the championship game (at 10 p.m. ET Saturday). SportsTime Ohio will air tape-delayed coverage of the first semifinal game at 10 p.m. ET Friday and of the championship game at 12 p.m. ET Sunday. Veteran college hockey play-by-play voice Dan Parkhurst will be on the call alongside color analyst Dave Ellis, a longtime Michigan sports personality and a contributor on WCHA radio broadcasts.
- From the Top: For the first time in the three seasons of the WCHA's current configuration, each of the top four playoff seeds won their Quarterfinal Round series to advance to the Final Five.
- You Look Familiar: The 2016 Final Five field is the same, albeit with different seeds, as the 2015 tournament. Taken a step further, Bowling Green, Ferris State and Minnesota State are all making their third-straight trips to the WCHA playoff championship.
- Polling Place: The MacNaughton Cup co-champions and Final Five top seeds represent the WCHA in this week's opinion polls, with No. 12 Michigan Tech and No. 15 Minnesota State both rising one spot in the USCHO.com poll. The Huskies are also holding steady at No. 13 in the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine rankings.
- Petan a Hobey Baker Finalist: Michigan Tech co-captain Alex Petan, the 2015-16 WCHA Player of the Year and league scoring champion, is also a top ten finalist for the 2016 Hobey Baker Memorial Award. The Huskies have had finalists in consecutive years for the first time in program history (Tanner Kero, who made his NHL debut this season with the Chicago Blackhawks, was a finalist in 2014-15).
Regular Season Rewind
- Winning Hockey: The WCHA finished its regular season with 60 percent of its membership (six of 10 teams) playing .500-or-better hockey, the third-best league-wide distribution among all NCAA conferences (ECAC Hockey had eight of 12 teams at-or-above .500, for 66.7 percent, while five-of-eight NCHC teams - or 62.5 percent - were at least break-even).
- The Cup Goes Home, and Stays Put: For the seventh time in league history (also 1952-53, 1957-58, 1962-63, 1996-97, 2004-05 and 2012-13), the WCHA finished its regular season with co-champions, as Michigan Tech and Minnesota State ended the year with 39 points apiece. Originally crafted in Calumet, Mich., the fabled MacNaughton Cup is returning to its ancestral home in Copper Country for the first time since 1976, with the Huskies earning a share of their seventh WCHA title. The Mavericks won their second consecutive (and overall) league crown. The two schools will each get the Cup for a six-month period over the next year.
- Don't Leave Your Seats: Seventy-one (71) of the 140 WCHA regular season games in 2015-16 were either ties (23) or one-goal decisions (48), with 35 overtime contests. Thirty-three (33) league games featured a tie-breaking, third-period game-winning goal (including 15 in the last five minutes of regulation), with an additional 12 victories coming in overtime.
By the Numbers
- 20-20-20: Bowling Green (22-13-6) and Michigan Tech (23-8-5) have both reached the 20-win plateau for the second consecutive season. The Falcons last achieved that feat between 1994-95 and 1995-96; the Huskies, not since a three-campaign run between 1980-81 and 1982-83 (including the final two years of John MacInnes' Hall-of-Fame tenure in Houghton). Minnesota State (20-12-7) has now recorded three-consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time in the school's D-I history and just the second-time ever (legendary bench boss Don Brose had a five-year run between 1978-79 and 1982-83).
- 100/400: Bowling Green head coach Chris Bergeron is just the fourth BGSU bench boss to win 100 games (now 102). Minnesota State's Mike Hastings is sitting on 99 career victories entering the Final Five, while Michigan Tech's Mel Pearson has 95 wins to his credit (second-most in school history). Earlier this season, Ferris State's Bob Daniels - the winningest coach in school history - won his 400th game behind the Bulldogs' bench (now 414).
- .844: Michigan Tech's winning percentage since Jan. 1, third-best in the country. The Huskies are 12-1-3 in 2016, and are 14-2-4 (.800) in their past 20 games, dating back to Dec. 11 (also the NCAA's third-best mark).
2016 WCHA Final Five
No. 1 seed - Michigan Tech Huskies (23-8-5)
- WCHA regular season co-champion Michigan Tech is back in its second consecutive Final Five after sweeping Alaska, 7-1 and 5-3, in the WCHA Quarterifinals.
- Tech is appearing in its seventh WCHA Final Five and third of the Mel Pearson era. The Huskies have previously advanced to the event in 1993 (participant), 1994 (fourth), 1996 (second), 2007 (participant), 2012 (participant) and 2015 (second). Michigan Tech boasts nine WCHA playoff championships all-time (most recent coming in 1981).
- Senior goaltender Jamie Phillips, who already boasts the program's all-time shutout record with 10, can tie the Tech career victories mark in the semifinals. Bruce Horsch is the all-time leader in that category with 58 wins from 1974-78.
No. 2 Seed - Minnesota State Mavericks (20-12-7)
- Minnesota State claimed a best-of-three first round WCHA series with Lake Superior State, winning games #1 (5-2) and #3 (3-0) in advancing to next weekend's Final Five in Grand Rapids, Mich.
- This year will be Minnesota State's fourth-straight appearnce in the WCHA Final Five and sixth overall. The Mavericks, who have won the last two Broadmoor Trophies as the WCHA postseason tournament champions, stand 4-4 all-time in WCHA Final Five games.
- Senior forward Bryce Gervais, who scored his team-best 15th goal of the year in last Friday's win over Lake Superior State, has played in 161 consecutive games - establishing school records for career games played and consecutive games.
No. 3 Seed - Bowling Green Falcons (22-13-6)
- Bowling Green came back from a first-game loss to defeat Bemidji State in their best-of-three WCHA Tournament first round series with wins of 7-2 and 3-1 in the final two games. BGSU has now won a best-of-three playoff series in six consecutive years, including all three as members of the WCHA.
- The Falcons will be seeking their first-ever win this weekend in the WCHA Final Five. In 2014, BGSU lost a semifinal 4-0 to Minnesota State. Last season, the Falcons fell 5-2 in a semifinal against Michigan Tech.
- Sophomore goaltender Chris Nell saved 93 of 99 shots during the three game series against Bemidji State. For the season, Nell leads the WCHA overall in save percentage (.931) and is third in goals against average (1.91). He has given up just 67 goals in 35 starts and two or fewer in 25 of those.
No. 4 Seed - Ferris State Bulldogs (17-14-6)
- Ferris State will make its third consecutive trip to the WCHA Final Five after completing a two-game sweep of Northern Michigan in a WCHA Quarterfinal series at Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, Mich. The Bulldogs defeated NMU 3-2 in Game 1 on Friday, before finishing the series with a 5-2 victory in Game 2 Saturday night.
- In FSU's previous Final Five appearances in 2014 and 2015, the team has produced a 1-2 record, defeating Alaska Anchorage in the 2014 semifinals and falling to Minnesota State in the 2014 title game and the 2015 semis.
- Gerald Mayhew has been at his best for Ferris State during postseason play. The junior has totaled seven goals and four assists for 11 points in 11 career playoff games. The forward has also notched three game-winning scores during his three seasons of playoff action.
And…One More Number
- 3: The 2016 WCHA Final Five includes three teams with juniors wearing the captain's "C": Bowling Green defenseman Sean Walker, Minnesota State junior defenseman Carter Foguth and Ferris State forward Kyle Schempp. The tournament also features three of the NCAA's top-12 defensive teams: No. 6 Minnesota State (1.97 goals allowed per game), No. 9 Michigan Tech (2.11) and No. 11 Bowling Green (2.17).
2016 Honorary Fifth Team – Grand Rapids Sled Wings
The name "Final Five" is synonymous with the WCHA and its treasured playoff championship. Originally dubbed the WCHA Final Five when the league's five first-round playoff winners met at the St. Paul Civic Center at the end of the 1992-93 season, and continuing in 2011 when the field expanded to six teams in a five-game format, the moniker has stuck through different formats and venues.
To pay homage to the tournament name and the league's long-standing mission of growing the game, the WCHA is proud to recognize the 2016 "Honorary Fifth Team" – the Grand Rapids Sled Wings. An inspirational and talented collection of hockey players ranging from ages 4 to adulthood, the Sled Wings – a team of athletes of all ages with physical disabilities – are sponsored by the Grand Rapids Griffins Youth Foundation in partnership with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. The Sled Wings will be honored during Saturday night's Broadmoor Trophy Championship Game.