St. Paul, Minn. — Bowling Green’s chances of earning a berth in the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 1990 are in serious jeopardy.
And the Falcons no longer have a say in the matter.
BG lost a 5-2 decision Friday to Michigan Tech in the semifinals of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Falcons, ranked ninth nationally and 23-11-5 overall, most likely would have clinched no worse than an at-large berth in the NCAAs by beating Tech.
Now, they must wait for the rest of the conference tournaments to finish Saturday night before knowing if they’ll play in the national tournament.
The Falcons also could have earned an automatic berth in the NCAAs by winning the WCHA playoff championship.
The NCAAs consist of the six league playoff champions and 10 at-large teams
Following their loss, the Falcons fell to 15th in the Pairwise Rankings, which mirror the NCAA selection criteria.
The top 16 teams in the Pairwise won’t qualify for the NCAAs because some of the playoff champions won’t be in the top 16 of the Pairwise.
The Atlantic Hockey playoff winner won’t finish in the top 16 — meaning no more than the top 15 teams in the playoffs will advance to the NCAAs.
The NCAA pairings will be announced Sunday at noon, although the Pairwise are updated after each game on U.S. College Hockey Online (www.uscho.com) and College Hockey News (www.collegehockeynews.com).
“It’s out of our control now,” BG senior captain Dan DeSalvo said. “Going into the game, I told the guys ‘Let’s put fate in our hands. Let’s do it ourselves. Let’s not rely on other people to put is the tournament.
“That was our focus going into the tournament, but it’s out of our control now.”
Tech, ranked fourth and 29-8-2 overall, has clinched to worse than an at-large berth.
The Huskies, who last played in the NCAAs in 1981, will face top-ranked Minnesota State (27-7-3) or Ferris State (18-19-2) for the tournament championship Saturday night at 7.
“It doesn’t look as positive as we would have wanted, but we put ourselves in that predicament,” Bergeron said, adding he checked his cell phone after the game to see BG’s updated standing in the Pairwise.
The Falcons entered Friday 12th in the Pairwise.
They headed back to BG later Friday night after having a team dinner at their hotel in St. Paul.
BG’s hopes of earning an NCAA berth also took a serious hit earlier this season with losses at home to Lake Superior by a 3-1 score Jan. 23 and at Alaska-Anchorage by a 6-1 score Feb. 28.
Lake Superior tied with Alabama-Huntsville for eighth place in the 10-team league, but lost a playoff spot on a tiebreaker. UAA finished last.
Had the Falcons won those two games, they would have been eighth in the Pairwise going into Friday.
The Falcons also were swept at home (3-2 overtime, 4-3) Feb. 20-21 by Northern Michigan, which finished seventh in the league.
“It was a little too raw to get into that right away (with the team after the game),” Bergeron said of BG’s NCAA hopes. “But I also didn’t want to close out the season and say thank you to the seniors and good bye.
“There’s hockey to be played and we’ve left it in order people’s hands. There’s nothing we can do about that, but sit and wait. That’s what we’ll talk about over the next 24 to 36 hours as it plays itself out.”
The Falcons have been one of college hockey’s feel good stories this season.
After winning an NCAA championship in 1984, the program slowly declined and became one of college hockey’s bottom-feeders. The program nearly was cut by the university for financial reasons approximately six years ago.
The NCAAs consist of four four-team regionals, consisting of single-elimination play.
Regionals in Fargo, N.D., and Manchester, N.H. are March 27-28. Regionals in South Bend, Ind., and Providence, R.I. are March 28-29.
The regional champions advance to the NCAA Frozen Four in Boston on April 9 and 11.
Once the 16 teams are decided, the top four are No. 1 seeds, teams 5-8 are No. 2 seeds, teams 9-12 are No. 3 seeds and teams are 13-16 are No. 4 teams.
The Falcons still have a chance of finishing in the top 8 and being a No. 2 seed.
The NCAA selection will be shown by ESPNU.
Before the selection show, at 11 a.m., the NCAA will tweet out (@NCAAIceHockey) the four No. 1 seeds in alphabetical order.
Moments after, after receiving the official bracket from the NCAA, ESPN host John Buccigross will tweet out (@Buccicgross) the numerical order of the No. 1 seeds and the region in which they will play.