This weekend at Joe Louis Arena, three of the four teams in the CCHA semifinals will be from Michigan.
Michigan, Michigan State and Northern Michigan will join Miami in the battle for the 2006 CCHA championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Last weekend, Michigan swept Ferris State, the Spartans went to a third and deciding game with Alaska-Fairbanks and NMU swept Nebraska-Omaha.
The Wildcats, seeded No. 4 for the tournament, play No. 1 Miami (No. 2 in the country) at 4:05 p.m. Friday while the Wolverines and MSU go at 7:35 p.m. The Spartans have the No. 2 seed and Michigan sits No. 3.
Saturday, the third-place game is at 3:30 p.m. and the championship is at 7:00 p.m.
In Ann Arbor last weekend, Jack Johnson's 10th goal of the season, at 4:11 of the third period, lifted Michigan to a 3-2 win over FSU on Saturday and gave the Wolverines a 2-0 victory in their best-of-three CCHA quarterfinal-round series. After a scoreless first period, Michigan sandwiched power-play goals from Brandon Kaleniecki and T.J. Hensick around a pair of FSU tallies by Eric Vesely and Greg Rallo to make it 2-2 after two. Noah Ruden made 20 saves for U-M and Mitch O'Keefe stopped 29 for the Bulldogs.
"We will take a little time out," said Ruden. "We will look over what we did right. We will try to figure out everything it took for us to put together two games like this. It was the first time (we swept) since December 10th, so the atmosphere in the locker room was really happy, but we have to make sure we realize why we won."
The Spartans, meanwhile, had to rally in their series after losing Friday's game to the Nanooks. Junior captain Drew Miller netted his second career hat trick, including the game-winner, as No. 5 Michigan State defeated Alaska-Fairbanks, 7-4, on Sunday evening. With the win, Michigan State advances to Detroit for the conference playoffs for the 25th time in 26 years.
"I'm very proud of this team - the way they responded and the way they have persevered all season," noted MSU head coach Rick Comley. "We were disappointed on Friday, but the guys really responded with two strong efforts."
Chris Mueller, Ethan Graham, David Booth and Corey Potter also scored to back Jeff Lerg's 23-save outing in net.
In Marquette, the Wildcats scored three in the second period and held on for a 3-2 win to sweep the Mavericks. Andrew Contois scored twice and Pat Bateman the other as Bill Zaniboni stopped 28 shots for the clinching win.
“They have an opportunity to earn a spot to play for a championship right now, they deserve that,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “They understand they have not done anything special yet. We hope there are bigger and better things to come.”