Now these are the kinds of picks that I make that everyone knows, loves, and mocks. Last week’s record includes the Tuesday night game between Notre Dame and Bowling Green
Last week: 4-5-2 (.455)
Season to date: 77-56-23 (.567)
The Buckeyes and Bulldogs split … but neither won on the night I predicted. Of course.
This week, everyone plays. There are five conference series and Miami travels to Madison to play Wisconsin. All series are Friday-Saturday. Times are local.
Alaska at No. 5 Notre Dame. The Nanooks are hoping to carry the momentum of last week’s first-ever sweep of Michigan — in Ann Arbor, no less — into South Bend. Friday’s 5-4 Alaska win was the Nanooks’ first game since early December, and the win halted a seven-game winless streak that dated back to Nov. 17. Saturday’s 4-1 win gave Alaska a 4-2-2 road record for the season. Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish hope to carry very little from recent games into this weekend’s series. Notre Dame begins the second half of the season with a 1-3-0 record in four road games played within the span of eight days, including two Tuesdays. Last weekend, the Irish split with Michigan State and Tuesday night ND lost to Bowling Green. That Tuesday loss was the only one in which ND scored at least two goals, having scored one in its three previous contests. The Irish are home this weekend for the first time since since Dec. 8. ND has a 7-3-0 edge in the last 10 meetings between the Nanooks and Irish. Friday’s game begins at 7:35 p.m. Saturday’s game is carried by CBS Sports and begins at 7:05 p.m. Alaska 3-1, Notre Dame 4-2
Ferris State vs. Michigan State. These two teams are getting to know each other well in a relatively short span of playing time. The Spartans beat the Bulldogs, 3-1, at home Dec. 15; the Bulldogs returned the favor in their own rink Jan. 5, a 3-0 game. Last weekend, FSU split a pair of home games with Ohio State and MSU split a pair of home games with Notre Dame. That 4-1 Saturday win for the Spartans was their first since beating the Bulldogs and stopped a four-game winless streak. This home-and-home series begins Friday night in East Lansing at 7:35 p.m., a game carried by FOX Sports Detroit. Saturday’s rematch in Big Rapids is untelevised and begins at 7:05 p.m. I expect nothing more and nothing less than the two previous matches between these teams this season — good hockey and home wins. MSU 3-1, FSU 3-1
Michigan at Lake Superior State. The Wolverines dropped two games to Alaska at home last weekend and are now winless in their last three — four if you count an exhibition loss to the Under-18 team Jan. 4. The Lakers took two points from Western Michigan in Kalamazoo last weekend, tying the Broncos and earning the shootout point Friday before losing 3-1 Saturday. That loss was the first for LSSU since a Dec. 7 loss to Miami. Last season, the Wolverines took five points at home from the Lakers with a tie and shootout point plus a win outright. Even if the Wolverines weren’t struggling, I’d still call two for the Lakers because of the two Kevins in goal, Kapalka and Murdock. Friday’s game begins at 7:35 p.m., Saturday’s at 7:05 p.m. LSSU 3-1, 3-1
Ohio State at Northern Michigan. I’m beginning to think that any series in which Ohio State plays in the second half is going to be (1) interesting and (2) pivotal. The Buckeyes are getting outstanding goaltending from Brady Hjelle and have returned injured players to the lineup. In short, OSU looks solid and is solidly in that top-tier mix with 25 points, tied with Ferris State for fourth place. Last weekend, the Buckeyes split a pair of games with Ferris State in Big Rapids. Now they play the Wildcats, a team that always seems to have a better second half and is showing signs of real life as we hit the home stretch. NMU is unbeaten in four games, having swept St. Cloud State two weeks ago — on the road, where the Wildcats have struggled — and defeated and tied Miami at home last weekend. The last time the teams played in Marquette was Oct. 29-30, 2010, and the Wildcats swept. It’s tempting to call an NMU sweep again this weekend, but with Hjelle in net, I wouldn’t count on it. Of course I’m calling a split. Of course, each team will win on the opposite night of what I’m calling. Games begin at 7:35 p.m. each night. OSU 3-2, NMU 3-2
No. 10 Western Michigan vs. Bowling Green. Last weekend, the Broncos took four points at home from Lake Superior State with a tie and win and are now unbeaten (2-0-2) in four games. The Falcons, though, are unbeaten (4-0-1) in five games and take a three-game win streak into this home-and-home series, including Tuesday’s 4-2 home win over Notre Dame. The Broncos earned five points in an earlier home-and-home series versus the Falcons; WMU beat BGSU, 3-1, at home Nov. 9 before tying 2-2 the following night in Ohio. The Falcons are undefeated (4-0-3) against the Broncos in Bowling Green in their last seven meetings, and WMU holds a 3-1-2 edge over BGSU since Andy Murray’s arrival. In spite of the distance between these teams in the standings — WMU ranked and in third place with 30 points, BGSU tied for eighth place with 16 points — I think the teams will split. Bowling Green hosts Friday, Western Michigan hosts Saturday; both games begin at 7:05 p.m. BGSU 3-2, WMU 3-1
No. 8 Miami at Wisconsin. The RedHawks took two league points in Marquette last weekend, losing to Northern Michigan Friday before tying and earning the shootout point Saturday. Friday’s loss was the first game of the second half for the RedHawks but their second straight loss; Miami dropped the title game of the Three Rivers Classic Dec. 29 to host Robert Morris. Those back-to-back losses were the first of the season for Miami, though. Wisconsin is currently tied with Minnesota-Duluth for sixth place in the WCHA. The Badgers bring a 10-game unbeaten streak (7-0-3) and six-game win streak into this contest, having swept Minnesota State on the road last weekend in two overtime games. Senior defenseman John Ramage had the game-winning goal in each contest, doubling his goal output for the season as well as giving him a career- high year in goals with four. Sophomores Joel Rumpel (1.97 GAA, .927 SV%) and Landon Peterson (1.93, .932) each had a win. Each game begins at 7:07 p.m. Friday’s game is carried by the Big Ten Network, Saturday’s by FOX Sports Wisconsin. Wisconsin 3-2, Miami 3-2