The only likely way UAA can prevent missing the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs for a third straight season is to achieve something that has eluded it all season — success Outside.
The Seawolves on Friday open their four-game journey in Michigan with a series at Lake Superior State before playing two games at Ferris State next week.
UAA is 0-5-3 in WCHA games Outside this season, and 0-7-3 in all games Outside.
So, a tough task awaits a last-place club that is 1-3-3 in its last seven games, all in league, and currently sits five points outside a playoff spot with six games remaining in the regular season.
Only the top eight teams in the 10-team WCHA qualify for the playoffs. UAA missed out last season, when it finished ninth, and also in 2015, when it finished last. In the three seasons since the WCHA was revamped prior to the 2013-14 season, only two teams have twice failed to make the playoffs — UAA and Alabama-Huntsville.
Entering this weekend, UAA is five points behind eighth-place Alabama-Huntsville — the Seawolves do have two games in hand on the Chargers — and three points behind ninth-place Northern Michigan.
Compounding UAA's skate-thin margin of error is that Northern Michigan already has clinched the tiebreaker on UAA and Alabama-Huntsville currently owns the tiebreaker on UAA. There is no UAA tiebreaker with Lake Superior yet — this weekend's series marks the only games between the clubs this season.
As for UAA's inability to win Outside, the Seawolves at least gave themselves a glimmer of hope last month when they twice tied at Michigan Tech, which currently sits in second place. UAA won one of those games in 3-on-3 overtime to earn two points, but lost the other in a shootout to gain one point.
What the Seawolves likely need, though, to qualify for the playoffs is either a few three-point wins — games won in regulation or 5-on-5 OT — or at least a couple of those and some two-point wins.
Nine UAA players on Thursday were honored on the WCHA Scholar-Athlete team, which requires at least a 3.5 grade-point average in the previous two semesters.
The Seawolves who were honored: Junior center Matt Anholt, junior defenseman Jarrett Brown; senior winger Dylan Hubbs; sophomore winger Alex Jackstadt, junior winger Tad Kozun; junior goaltender Olivier Mantha; sophomore center Jonah Renouf; sophomore winger Nathan Renouf; sophomore defenseman Eric Roberts.
6-17-5, 5-12-5 WCHA
Lake Superior State
11-13-4, 8-10-4 WCHA
Friday, 3:37 p.m., Saturday 3:07 p.m.