1. N. Dakota (18-9-7, 13-6-7 WCHA, RPI No. 6): North Dakota clinched home ice in the first round of the WCHA for the 11th consecutive season, the league’s longest active streak, but its MacNaughton Cup hopes took a hit when it had to settle for a 2-2 tie with Bemidji State on Saturday. The game-tying goal by Jordan Schmaltz, at 8:27 of the third period, was initially disallowed but then was ruled a goal after video review. It hit a post, then the inside of the net on the other side of the goal before deflecting out. Next: at MSU-Mankato.
2. Minnesota (22-7-5, 14-7-5, No. 2): Highly-talented Gophers seem to keep doing just enough to stay in contention for the MacNaughton Cup — this time with a five-goal third period Saturday for a 5-1 win against Denver to salvage a split. Zach Budish had four points (two goals, two assists). Gophers are still two points behind St. Cloud State and are tied with North Dakota, but should have easy sledding at Bemidji State while the other contenders have tougher assignments. Next: at Bemidji State.
3. St. Cloud State (20-13-1, 17-8-1, RPI No. 11): Huskies have clinched home ice and are playing for seeding in a difficult assignment at Wisconsin. Came out flat in Saturday’s loss to Michigan Tech, falling behind 3-0 in 4:23 of a 5-1 defeat, with only goal coming with 2:44 to play. They split with Colorado College the previous week, too, and combined the past two weekends have taken some shine off the split they earned with Minnesota. Now they face red-hot Wisconsin and have just a two-point WCHA lead. Next: at Wisconsin.
4. Wisconsin (16-11-7, 12-7-7, No. 16): Maybe the Badgers don’t want home ice. The Badgers are 8-2-4 on the road, all in WCHA games, after sweeping UNO at the CenturyLink Center during the weekend. Despite standing No. 16 in RPI, Badgers are still tied for 20th in PairWise rankings, but could do some damage with St. Cloud State coming to town this weekend and the WCHA playoffs to follow. Maybe that home loss to Penn State wasn’t the end of Wisconsin’s NCAA at-large hopes. Next: St. Cloud State.
5. Minn. St.-Mankato (21-10-3, 15-10-1, No. 7): Mavericks bounced back from Friday’s loss at Colorado College for 7-2 victory that included five second-period goals — including three in 50 seconds — and a hat trick by Matt Leitner. Minnesota State had 13 power plays Saturday, scoring on four of them. MSU is also 7-2-1 since being swept by Wisconsin in mid-January. Next: North Dakota.
6. Denver (17-11-5, 12-9-5, No. 9): Pioneers posted a big 2-0 win against Minnesota on Friday before falling 5-1 Saturday. They’ve allowed six, six and five goals, respectively, in losing their last three Saturday games. Still, managed to go 2-2 in back-to-back weekends against North Dakota and Minnesota to stay in contention for home ice. They are in seventh place, but just one point behind a UNO team against whom they went 1-0-1 in mid-January and should expect to pick up four points this weekend against last-place Alaska-Anchorage — assuming they tighten things up on Saturday. Next: Alaska-Anchorage.
7. UNO (18-14-2, 14-10-2, No. 20): Have we mentioned that UNO has lost five straight home games? Six if you count the exhibition loss to Team USA. Mavericks’ last seven wins have come against teams that are no higher than eighth in the WCHA standings — they are 7-1 recently against them and 11-2-1 overall against them. Bad news: UNO is 3-8-1 against other teams in the WCHA top seven. Good news: next is ninth-place Minnesota-Duluth. Next: at Minnesota-Duluth.
8. Colorado College (13-16-5, 10-12-4, No. 30): Minnesota State-Mankato’s seven-goal Saturday night raises the old questions about the Tigers’ defense, but they have gone 3-2-1 the past six games against Denver, St. Cloud State and MSU — teams ranked no worse than No. 11 in the RPI. Close the regular season with some momentum at Michigan Tech, and maybe Colorado College can spring a first-round upset as the eighth seed. Next: at Michigan Tech.
9. Michigan Tech (11-17-4, 7-15-4, No. 45): Huskies snapped a three-game losing streak by surprising first-place St. Cloud State with an early three-goal barrage in a 5-1 victory Saturday. Next: Colorado College.
10. Minnesota-Duluth (12-17-5, 8-13-5, No. 42): Bulldogs’ back-to-back four-goal games in sweep of lowly Alabama-Huntsville represent their best offensive games since 5-4 win against Michigan Tech on Jan. 12. Nonconference wins snapped nine-game winless streak (0-7-2), all in WCHA play. Next: UNO.
11. Bemidji State (6-18-8, 5-14-7, No. 54): Beavers managed a tie with North Dakota Saturday, but are still 1-10-5 since Dec. 15. Next: Minnesota.
12. Alaska-Anchorage (4-21-7, 2-19-6, No. 56): Swept by Alaska-Fairbanks in Governor’s Cup for fifth straight loss. Seawolves are 1-16-3 since Dec. 1. Next: at Denver.