After dominating nonconference opponents last week, NCHA teams return to conference action this weekend.
The conference’s hottest team has been Wisconsin-Stevens Point, which has won six of its last seven games. Can the Pointers continue their momentum at St. Scholastica? Definitely. The Saints are 1-7 in the NCHA and 1-5 at home. The Pointers meanwhile, are heading up to Duluth with a boatload of confidence that should carry over to a series sweep.
Here’s what should happen in a few of the other NCHA match-ups this weekend.
Friday-Saturday, Jan. 11-12
St. Norbert at Wisconsin-Superior
This is the marquee clash on the docket this weekend. The sixth-ranked Green Knights head north to battle No. 11 Wis.-Superior. St. Norbert (12-2-1) could jump up to the top spot in D-III with a sweep of the Yellowjackets (10-4-1). Of course, that depends on what top-ranked Norwich does this weekend, too. It’s remarkable that St. Norbert, after winning back-to-back national titles, is still arguably the best team in the country. The Green Knights have shown no complacency, but the Yellowjackets have been the surprise team of the NCHA this season and would relish a victory over St. Norbert on their home ice. However, the Yellowjackets lost 5-3 to non-ranked Curry at home last Saturday. I don’t think they’re quite ready for an upset of St. Norbert. St. Norbert 5-4, 3-2
Wisconsin-River Falls at Wisconsin-Stout
Both teams come into this series with 8-5-2 records, but the Blue Devils are 3-5-0 in the NCHA, compared to the Falcons’ 1-5-2 mark. A sweep for Wis.-River Falls would give the Falcons a huge boost for the remainder of the season. I don’t see that happening, but I think the Falcons will earn a hard-fought split. Speaking of Wis.-River Falls, congratulations to longtime Falcons coach Steve Freeman for earning his 300th career victory on Dec. 29. The Falcons helped Freeman reach his milestone with a 3-1 triumph over St. Johns. Wis.-Stout 4-2, Wis.-River Falls 5-3