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College Hockey:
NCHC picks: Feb. 7

If you followed our picks last weekend, chances are you were disappointed. I went 2-2 (.500), while Matthew put up a bagel, going 0-4. On the year, I now have a two-game lead in our season-long picks contest; the winner gets a six pack from the loser. Now I just have to hold Matthew off. I am now 73-48-19 (.589) on the year, while Matthew is 71-50-19 (.575).
Friday-Saturday, Feb. 7-8

Western Michigan at Miami
Candace: The off-weekend came at a good time for coach Enrico Blasi’s club, which had started the second half dismally. Blasi hinted that there were several things he wanted to work on with his players to ready them for the stretch run. I don’t think that equals sweep yet though. Miami 3-2, Western Michigan 3-2
Matthew: Western hasn’t won in Oxford, Ohio since Nov. 19, 2004 and has gone 0-12-1 on the road against the RedHawks since then. Now, though, I think is the time for the Broncos to finally pick up another win or maybe two on Miami’s ice. WMU underwhelmed last weekend at home against Minnesota-Duluth, but I think Andy Murray will have his Broncos set to go this weekend, and I like them to pick up a few points. Miami 3-1, Western Michigan 3-1

No. 15 Denver at No. 6 St. Cloud State
Candace: Coach Bob Motzko’s Huskies still haven’t found their first half defense, which is good news for a Denver club that has struggled to score goals at times this year. In every road series except for Alaska that Denver has played this year, the Pioneers have won the Friday game, and St. Cloud has struggled at home in Friday games. Denver 2-1, St. Cloud 3-2
Matthew: It looked throughout the first half of the season as though SCSU was by far the class of the league, but the Huskies have only won two of their last seven games and now they have three teams only two points behind them in a tie for second place in the standings. Denver’s one of those three teams, and I’ve liked Sam Brittain’s play in goal for DU recently more than I’ve liked Ryan Faragher’s for SCSU, but as this series is in St. Cloud, I’ll take a split. St. Cloud State 4-2, Denver 3-1

Colorado College at No. 17 Minnesota-Duluth
Candace: Minnesota-Duluth continues to improve, and after this weekend, it wouldn’t surprise me if they are in a tie for first or second. Minnesota-Duluth 3-2, 3-1
Matthew: CC has looked better in recent weeks, and the Tigers surprised me a bit in getting a split at home with Miami last weekend. However, Duluth has been the NCHC’s hottest team of late, and I think the Bulldogs will be raring to go this weekend for their first home series in a few weeks and ought to get the job done. Minnesota Duluth 3-2, 4-1

Nebraska-Omaha at No. 16 North Dakota
Candace: If UNO’s defense plays like it did against St. Cloud last week, the Mavericks could be in for a rough weekend, because North Dakota loves playing tough, checking defense at the Ralph. North Dakota 3-1, 4-2
Matthew: Whether or not UNO No. 1 goaltender Ryan Massa makes it back from his groin injury in time for this series, I think UND will be able to handle the Mavericks. UND has the league’s best home record at 8-4-1 and has won its last six games at the Ralph, and goalie Clarke Saunders has historically been very good against UNO, both with UND and with Alabama-Huntsville before he transferred to North Dakota. North Dakota 5-3, 4-3

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