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College Hockey:
Pickin’ the Big Ten, Oct. 18-19, 2013

Happy Friday, everyone!

Last week
Drew: 8-1-0 (.842)
Paula: 7-3-0 (.700)

The total number of games differs because I posted a pick for Tuesday’s OSU-BGSU game and Drew did not. As last week was the first week we picked, those are also our season totals.

This weekend

Five Big Ten teams are in nonconference action this weekend, with Ohio State sitting this one out. Should I stop writing “nonconference action” for the time being, since league play for the Big Ten doesn’t begin until the end of November? I don’t know. All games are Friday-Saturday and all begin at roughly 7:00 p.m. local time except for the opening game of the Minnesota-Bemidji State series, which begins at 7:37 p.m.

Michigan at New Hampshire

Drew: Michigan, who obviously used Paula’s and my picks for them to lose to Boston College last Thursday as bulletin board material, looked impressive last weekend. Both the team’s offensive and goaltending was strong, but the defense looked suspect in Saturday’s win over RIT. New Hampshire fell to Minnesota in the championship game of the Ice Breaker, but did look impressive. The Wildcats scored on two power plays and held the Gophers scoreless in power-play opportunities. Goaltender Casey DeSmith also looked solid on Saturday.

Paula: While I am relatively certain that the Wolverines don’t pay the least bit of attention to anything I write or say, I agree with Drew that they looked impressive last weekend — even in the win over RIT, which could have gone the other way easily were it not for Evan Allen’s goal at 19:04 in the second to stem the tide of RIT scoring. Michigan and New Hampshire last met Oct. 16, 2010, at Whittemore Center Arena, a 3-3 tie.

Drew’s picks: Michigan 3-2, 3-1
Paula’s picks: UNH 4-3, Michigan 3-2

Michigan State at Massachusetts

Drew: Michigan State opens up its season in week two, on the road. UMass dropped two tough ones last weekend to Boston and Mass-Lowell, both on the road. Michigan State’s team has potential but is still young and very unproven. It’ll be interesting to see how they do opening up on the road.

Paula: If UMass sweeps, it will be because the Minutemen have a weekend to their credit and they’re playing at home. I do like this Michigan State team; I especially like Jake Hildebrand in net. The Spartans are 3-0 all-time against the Minutemen, but the teams haven’t met since Oct. 10, 2008.

Drew’s picks: Michigan State 4-1, UMass 2-0
Paula’s picks: UMass 3-2, Michigan State 3-2

Minnesota at Bemidji State

Drew: After watching the No. 3 Gophers win the Ice Breaker Tournament and take down a ranked team in the process, there should be no reason for Minnesota to go on the road and not sweep Bemidji State this weekend. That being said, I’m going to point out a reason why the Gophers won’t sweep Bemidji State this weekend. The Gophers have never been able to dominate the Beavers; even when Minnesota won four straight games over two weekends last season, Bemidji made three of those four games very close. Also, the Beavers looked strong in a close loss and a tie last weekend on the road at St. Cloud State.

Paula: I’m not calling against the Golden Gophers until they lose. They just give me that kind of feeling this season.

Drew’s picks: Minnesota wins 4-2 and ties 3-3
Paula’s picks: Minnesota 3-2, 3-2

Penn State at Air Force

Drew: After defeating Army last weekend at home, Penn State will fly to face Air Force this weekend. The Falcons traveled to Alaska last weekend and lost to both Alaska and Alaska-Anchorage. Penn State and Air Force split a series last season. Though Penn State didn’t exactly play a very tough schedule last season, goaltender Matthew Skoff has a 7-2 record in his last nine games.

Paula: Once again, I find myself disagreeing with my esteemed partner-in-writing. I think any schedule for a first-year Division I team is a tough one; it was completely new territory, a completely new program and a completely new experience for everyone involved with that program. I don’t care that the Nittany Lions played a mix of D-I, D-III and exhibition teams. I’m sure that it was challenging in ways that other D-I teams can’t even imagine. But I digress, as I often do.

Drew’s picks: Penn State 3-1, Air Force 3-2
Paula’s picks: Air Force 3-2, Penn State 4-3

Wisconsin at Boston College and Boston University

Drew: As I pointed out in the Big Ten column this week, the Badgers swept a season-opening series for the first time since I was in middle school (2004). The going gets tougher for Bucky as they go on a tour of Boston this weekend. Boston College rebounded from a season-opening loss to Michigan with a 7-2 home win over RPI last weekend; freshman Thatcher Demko picked up his first collegiate win between the pipes on Saturday. Boston University started off its season with home wins over Massachusetts and Holy Cross.

Paula: As Drew has so kindly reiterated for those of us following college hockey since before he was born, the Badgers had a nice sweep to open the season last weekend, against a team that has given them trouble in the past. Saturday’s 2-1 win over Northern Michigan was decided by freshman Grant Besse’s second career goal late in the third period. I admire in the Badgers in the early going the same thing that I admire in the Wolverines: the ability to find a way to win, especially with young talent. An interesting UW-BC note is that two of the last five meetings between these teams have come in NCAA title games, with Wisconsin winning in 2006 and Boston College in 2010. Wisconsin has losses versus each the Eagles and the Terriers when last they met.

Drew’s picks: Wisconsin falls to Boston College 3-1 and beats Boston University 3-2.
Paula’s picks: As people who followed my abysmal CCHA picks will remember, I have a healthy, healthy, healthy respect for Hockey East. Boston College 3-2, Wisconsin 3-2.

Holla!

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