MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- As the WCHA season winds down, the defending national champion University of North Dakota has clinched the top seed in the playoffs. But two games next week could decide if they have to share the MacNaughton Cup championship with Minnesota.
The Fighting Sioux (22-5-9, 18-4-6 WCHA) clinched their playoff spot with a 3-1 road victory over Michigan Tech (8-20-4, 6-17-3) Saturday.
The team won with two goals from forward Bryan Lundbohm. Lundbohm scored his 26th goal of the season at 16:48 of the first to make it 2-0 UND. After a scoreless second period, Lundbohm notched his second goal of the game and 27th of the season at 1:56 of the third period.
UND, now 7-0-5 over the last 12 games, also clinched at least part of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship with the win, based on 2-1-1 advantage in their head-to-head matchups with Minnesota.
The regular season championship is the fourth in the past five seasons under coach Dean Blais.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers (25-8-2, 18-6-2) can tie North Dakota for the league title if it sweeps St. Cloud State in a two-game series Friday and Saturday. However, the Huskies don't plan to go quietly.
The Huskies could tie the Gophers with a sweep of the series. Then St. Cloud State would take the No. 2 playoff seed with a tiebreaker for most league victories.
"We're pumped to play (the Gophers)," Huskies coach Craig Dahl said. "The thing that's great is now it's just going to be us against them. There's nothing riding on it but pride because there's really little difference between second and third going into the playoffs anyway."
St. Cloud beat Minnesota State-Mankato 6-2 Friday and 6-3 Saturday to skate away with a series sweep and maintain third place in the WCHA.
The Gophers had a chance to move up in the standings this weekend, but were upset by last-place Minnesota-Duluth (6-24-4, 3-20-3) 5-4 in overtime Friday.
Gophers goaltender Adam Hauser felt disappointed at first with the loss. It cost his team a chance to win the WCHA regular-season championship outright.
But it didn't take long for Hauser to shed that sadness. He stopped all 23 shots he faced in Saturday's 4-0 victory over the Bulldogs, gaining his seventh career shutout, the third this season, which tied the school record for career shutouts.
The Gophers have not won a WCHA regular-season title since 1997, when they shared it with the Sioux.
Hauser said, "It's like coach said: 'If someone had told us at the beginning of the year we would be playing for part of a league championship, would we be happy?' Nobody would say no. It's great, especially for the seniors."
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