Another week of making predictions has arrived, and I own a 44-42 record heading into this week. Not impressive.
I went just 3-5 a week ago, but I’m hoping for a big-time turnaround this week.
The big match-up of the weekend is the one between St. Olaf and St. Thomas. The Oles and Tommies will play a pair of games this weekend, and first place in the conference will be hanging in the balance.
Of course, from here on out, every game is big in the tight conference standings. Every team is looking to make a final push for the five league playoff spots up for grabs, and the weekend ahead will help clear up that picture.
So without further delay, here are my picks.
Gustavus at Concordia
The Gusties will play a pair of games on the road this weekend, and need to win both if they want to move back into contention for the postseason. Gustavus has scored 39 goals and allowed 38, and Adam Smyth and Ryan Johnson have tallied five goals apiece. Gustavus has played to a pair of ties in its last two games, and needs to be able to take control early, considering it’s playing on the road. Concordia has proven it can score goals. It has 55 on the season, and has allowed 48. If the Cobbers get untracked early, they will make it tough on the Gusties to keep up. Chris Neamontis could be a deciding factor for the Cobbers, as he has played well in goal. Gustavus Adolphus 3-2, Concordia 5-3
St. Mary’s vs. Augsburg
The Cardinals and Auggies will play a home-and-home this weekend, and for the Cardinals, a lot is riding on these two games. St. Mary’s is trying to stay in contention for the conference title, and Mike Hill has to step up this weekend as he has all season for the Cardinals. Hill has 11 goals. Andy Scheib played well at times against St. Thomas last weekend, and he will need a big game as well for the Cardinals to come out of this weekend with a pair of wins. Augsburg has struggled to find confidence as of late, and has not won in its last seven games. The Auggies have skated to a pair of ties during the streak, and while they have shown signs of promise defensively, they are still looking to get their offense on track. It will be tough to do against St. Mary’s. St. Mary’s 6-2, 5-2
St. John’s vs. Hamline
The Johnnies and Pipers will play a home-and-home, and St. John’s is coming off two straight wins over Concordia, as it continues its push for a postseason berth. The Johnnies have the ability to be effective offensively, and that should work to their advantage against a Hamline team that has struggled. Players like John Haeg and Jascha Pettit should have an opportunity to have big games for the Johnnies. Hamline will have a tough time matching the offensive firepower of St. John’s, but it has played better defensively as of late, allowing only six goals in its last four games. Keep in mind that two of those games were against St. Thomas. If the Pipers can get a good defensive effort, they have a shot at getting at least one win, or at the very least, a tie. Tie 2-2, St. John’s 5-2
St. Olaf vs. St. Thomas
A lot will be riding on this weekend series, as the Tommies look to keep the Oles off their tail in the battle for the conference championship. Both teams have two losses in conference play. The Oles have scored 11 goals in their last two games, and will need to be clicking on all cylinders offensively against the Tommies to have a shot in this home-and-home series. This is a series where players such as Jeff Harris and Kevin Harris need to play a big role. St. Thomas has been challenged lately, although it did score seven goals in a the finale against St. Mary’s. If that Tommies offense shows up, it could be a tough night for the Oles. This series will come down to which team plays better defense. St. Thomas 5-3, St. Olaf 3-2