Last week, teams in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association took a break from beating up on each other, flexing their muscles against nonconference opponents.
The NCHA dominated, going 7-0. I did very well on my picks, but I have to admit, it was an easy week. This week, conference play returns with several key games. Here are my predictions on a few of this weekend’s marquee match-ups.
Friday-Saturday, November 30-Dec. 1
Wisconsin-Stevens Point at Wisconsin Eau-Claire
After improving to 9-0-1, the Blugolds moved up to No. 3 in the latest USCHO.com Division III Poll. Wis.-Stout coach Terry Watkins, whose team lost two tough battles with Wis.-Eau Claire earlier this season, thinks the Blugolds are arguably the best team in the nation. Meanwhile, Wis.-Stevens Point (4-4-1 and 1-4-1 in the NCHA) would enjoy nothing more than to hand the Blugolds their first loss of the season. The Pointers have a solid goalie in senior Nick Graves, but the Blugolds, led by forward Jordan Singer (19 points), simply have too many weapons. They’re the hottest team in the country, and they’ll extend their undefeated season for at least another week. Wis.-Eau Claire 4-2, 5-3
Wisconsin-Superior at Wisconsin-River Falls
Both teams are ranked in the top 15, with Wis.-Superior coming in at No. 12 and Wis.-River Falls at No. 14. I expect this to be a highly-entertaining weekend in River Falls. The Yellowjackets, paced by Superior native Pat Dalbec (13 points), are 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the NCHA. Meanwhile, the Falcons, led by goalie Scott Lewan (194 saves) are 4-3-1. This series is crucial for the Falcons. A series sweep at home would push them ahead of Wis.-Superior in the D-III rankings and prove they’re a force in the NCHA. However, I think the Yellowjackets steal the second game in overtime. Wis.-River Falls 4-3, Wis.-Superior 5-4 (OT)