Is there a changing of the guard in the NCHA? Last Friday, the Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugolds blanked defending D-III national champion St. Norbert, 3-0, at home.
It was the first time in almost a year that the Green Knights have been shutout, and only the second time the Blugolds have done it — ever. With the victory, Wis.-Eau Claire moved into sole possession of first place in the NCHA, and is building momentum for a postseason run.
This weekend, the Blugolds face Wisconsin-Stout and Wisconsin River Falls, and should come away with two more wins to pad their lead in the conference.
Friday, Feb. 1
Wisconsin-Superior at Wisconsin-Stevens Point
This is a crucial game between two teams tied for third place (6-7-1) in the NCHA. The Yellowjackets have dropped two straight and seven of their last eight. After a promising start, Wis.-Superior is limping to the finish line. In their past two games, the Yellowjackets have been held to two goals, so they’ll need to generate offense to knock off Wis.-Stevens Point. The Pointers have been up and down this season, but they are coming off a hard-fought, 3-2 setback to No. 5 Wis.-Eau Claire. I see them taking care of business Friday night in Stevens Point. Wis.-Stevens Point 4-2
Wisconsin-Eau Claire at Wisconsin-Stout
Could this be a trap game for the Blugolds? Probably not, but the Blue Devils are 8-2 at home. Overall though, Wis.-Stout is 10-9-2, but 5-9 in the NCHA. The Blue Devils should be able to hang with Wis.-Eau Claire because they have senior goaltender Nick Hopper patrolling the pipes. Hopper is one of the NCHA’s top netminders. Also, the Blue Devils know how to pull off an upset after knocking out St. Norbert on Jan. 18. I see a tight battle, with the Blugolds holding off pesky Wis.-Stout. Wis.-Eau Claire 3-2