Talk about taking one on the chin. Last week, my picks were straight up horrible. I went 3-6, and now my record is a ho-hum 18-18. Just when I thought I was getting the hang of making predictions, I get thrown back down to reality in a hurry.
This week, it looks like I will only be picking games in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, as no nonconference games are on the slate until next weekend. So, it’s time for me to conjure up some good luck and hope I can get back on track. One blow to the chin is enough.
Friday Nov. 30 and Saturday Dec. 1
Hamline vs. Bethel
These two teams will play a home-and home, starting with the Royals hosting the Pipers on Friday night. Bethel is tied for second in the conference, and two more wins would keep it in contention for the title. The Royals have lost their last three games, but they should end that slide against the Pipers. I expect them to get their offense rolling this weekend and get different players involved in the scoring. Hamline has had a tough time slowing teams down. and hasn’t been effective on offense either, scoring two or fewer goals in five of its last six games. The Pipers will compete hard on both nights and have a chance to win if Joe Rubbelke comes up big, as he has all season, but my guess is the Royals will sweep the series. Bethel 5-2, 4-1
Gustavus-Adolphus vs. Augsburg
It’s hard to believe the Gusties have yet to win a game in conference play, but that should change this weekend with this home-and-home series against the Auggies. Gustavus will open the series on the road, and should have enough offensive firepower to be successful against Augsburg, which has only scored 12 goals this year while allowing 18. The difference in this series could be the play of goalie Patrick Sullivan. Derek Loisel and B.J. McClellan will need to have strong performances if Augsburg is going to avoid a sweep this weekend. Gustavus-Adolphus 4-1, 3-2
Concordia at St. Thomas
The Tommies are the best team in the conference right now and appear to be picking up momentum on both ends of the ice. They have scored 24 goals. and have been one of the best in limiting goals for opponents, having given up only 15 on the year. Michael Krieg and Alex Niestrom have played key roles offensively, and Tyrone Simcoe owns a league-best save percentage of .964. Chris Beede has played well for Concordia, scoring four goals on the year, and three other players have at least two goals. The Cobbers have lost three of their last four, but only one of those games was decided by more than a goal. I expect Concordia to be competitive in both games, but it will be tough to knock off St. Thomas on the road. St. Thomas 4-3, 5-2
St. Olaf vs. St. Mary’s
This could very well be the most intriguing matchup of the weekend. Both teams have played well early in the conference and both are hoping to contend for a conference championship. St. Mary’s will open the series at home and look for Mike Hill to continue his strong start to the season. He enters the weekend with five goals and six assists. The Cardinals have been very productive on offense, leading the league in goals scored (32), and they do a tremendous job of moving the puck around, as they have tallied 40 assists. St. Olaf is still trying to work on things offensively, but its goaltending play has been solid. The Oles, who are coming off a pair of shutout losses on an East Coast trip, will give themselves a shot of at least a split behind the play of goalies Henrik Wood and Steve Papciak, who have combined for 249 saves. I can’t see one of these teams coming away with a sweep. I expect two competitive games and a split in the series. St. Mary’s 5-2, St. Olaf 3-1