Last week, St. Norbert earned two crucial wins at Wisconsin-Superior to surpass Norwich as the top-ranked team in the NCAA D-III.
Part of me wanted to pick the Yellowjackets to sneak past the Green Knights and get at least one win, but the rational part of me won out. Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut.
This week, St. Norbert hosts Wisconsin-Stout and should keep its momentum rolling. The marquee match-up in the NCHA this week will be Wis.-Superior at Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Here’s what should happen this weekend on the ice.
Friday-Saturday, Jan. 18-19
Wis.-Superior at Wis.-Eau Claire
This is a battle between No. 6 Wis.-Eau Claire and No. 13 Wis.-Superior. The Blugolds are 12-3-2 overall and 7-2-1 in the NCHA, while the Yellowjackets are 10-6-1 and 5-4-1. A sweep on the road for the Yellowjackets would be a huge boost of confidence. Wis.-Superior is led by forward Pat Dalbec (13 goals, 11 assists). After a strong start to the season, the Yellowjackets have cooled off, dropping three straight games. Of course, two of those losses came to No. 1 St Norbert. I see Wis.-Superior rebounding with a win Friday night, but falling to the Blugolds on Saturday. Wis.-Eau Claire goalie Brandon Stephenson is too tough between the pipes to be swept. He carries a .914 save percentage and a sterling 2.38 goals-against average. Wis.-Superior 3-2, Wis.-Eau Claire 5-3
Next week, I’ll have my prediction for the big Wis.-Eau Claire/St. Norbert rematch on Jan. 25. The Blugolds are the only NCHA team to hand St. Norbert a loss this season, and also earned a tie with the Green Knights. I tried to get St. Norbert coach Tim Coghlin to comment on facing Wis.-Eau Claire earlier this week, but like any good coach, he said his team is focusing on Wis.-Stout, this weekend’s opponent.