Feb. 27, 2000

The Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoff pictured cleared somewhat during games on Feb. 24-26, with idle Notre Dame inching closer to securing one of the five home-ice spots for the CCHA Tournament’s first-round series.

The Irish (11-9-6/28 points)-who wrap up the regular season this week with a home-and-away series versus Michigan State-received help from several teams, most notably last-place Alaska Fairbanks, which played to a 2-2 tie with visiting Nebraska-Omaha before upsetting the Mavericks, 5-4. UNO (10-12-6/26 points) has completed its 28-game CCHA regular season and will receive the seventh, eighth or ninth seed in the CCHA Tournament.

The weekend’s results-which also saw Miami drop a pair of home games to Northern Michigan (6-1, 3-0) while Bowling Green split with visiting Ohio State (4-3 loss, 7-1 win)-ensures that Notre Dame will claim either the fifth or sixth seed in the CCHA Tournament. The Irish hold a two-point lead on Ferris State (12-12-2), which closes its regular season with a pair of home games versus 10th-place Western Michigan (9-14-3). FSU would receive the final home-ice spot if the Bulldogs finish tied with the Irish, due to the first tiebreaker (league wins).

Notre Dame can clinch home ice under any of the following scenarios (any combination of three points between the ND and FSU results):

(1) Capture three points in the MSU series (at least a win and a tie)

(2) Post one win over MSU while FSU drops at least one point in its WMU series

(3) Post a tie vs. MSU while FSU drops at least two points to WMU

(4) Hope that FSU manages just one point in its WMU series

Notre Dame’s first-round opponent will be either Ferris State (home or away), Bowling Green (home) or Miami (home). BG (11-14-1) has the better chance to move up the standings than Miami (10-13-3, away-and-home vs. OSU next week), due to more league wins. In terms of the second tiebreaker criteria (head-to-head), FSU has the edge on BG but Miami has the edge on FSU. Miami and BG split their four-game series, with Miami owning the goal-differential (14-12).

In other weekend action, Michigan (18-5-3) posted a 4-2 win over Michigan State (17-8-1) and now holds a four-point cushion over MSU and a three-point edge on NMU (16-6-4). MSU would capture the No. 1 seed if it rallies in the final week to tie Michigan, which finishes with a pair at Bowling Green MSU would have more league wins). NMU closes with a home series versus fourth-place Lake Superior (15-9-2) and could claim the No. 1 seed with a pair of wins over LSSU and a pair of Michigan losses. If Michigan has a loss and tie, UM and NMU could finish with identical records and those teams tied in both the head-to-head meetings (second tiebreaker, with the third being head-to-head goal differential). That tie then would be broken by record versus the CCHA teams in descending order (Michigan would get the No. 1 seed if MSU finishes third while NMU would be the top seed if LSSU places third).

LSSU actually could surge to second with a sweep of NMU and an Irish sweep of MSU (the Lakers can finish no lower than fourth).

WMU (9-14-3) sits in 10th but still could move up to eighth. OSU (7-16-3) still could catch WMU in the standings but the Broncos hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.

UPDATED CCHA STANDINGS (following Feb. 25 games)

1. Michigan (18-5-4) 40

2. Michigan State (17-8-2) 36

Northern Michigan (16-6-4) 36

4. Lake Superior (15-9-2) 32

5. Notre Dame (11-9-6) 28

6. Ferris State (12-12-2) 26

Nebraska-Omaha (10-12-6) 26

8. Bowling Green (11-14-1) 23

Miami (10-13-3) 23

10. Western Michigan (9-14-3) 21

11. Ohio State (7-16-3) 17

12. Alaska Fairbanks (4-22-2) 19