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Video: Minnesota State’s 180-plus-foot, banked, own goal on a delayed penalty

Here’s something you don’t see every day. And probably something Jimmy Mullin and Minnesota State would like to never see again.

 

From more than 180 feet away, Mullin banked a pass off the boards and into his own net while Mavericks goaltender Cole Huggins was pulled for a delayed penalty.

That goal — yes, announcer, it was — gave Alabama-Huntsville a 3-2 lead in the second period of Friday’s game. The Chargers’ Madison Dunn got credit for his second goal of the night.

“That’s one you don’t plan on,” Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings told the Mankato Free Press. “I don’t know what to say, other than that’s kind of the way our night went.”

The Mavericks earned a 3-3 tie when Bryce Gervais evened the game with a power-play goal in the third period.

Here are all of the goals from the game:

WCHA picks, Feb. 12-13

Hey all. Jack here.

What a difference a week can make.

After going 3-8-1 on my picks last weekend, I was able to turn it around completely this time around and go a perfect 9-0-0 on the weekend. I have no idea how this happened, but I swear I didn’t cheat. (But I won’t completely deny being a sorcerer…)

Anyway, it’s a fairly light slate for conference teams this weekend, but two of the series feature middle-table teams that need all of the points they can muster when it comes to playoff positioning. Meanwhile, the first and last place teams also face off, but I honestly think they will play better games than many might expect.

On to the picks. Hopefully I can conjure some more black magic this weekend.

Bemidji State at Lake Superior State

Jack: The Beavers are playing pretty well right now, but after a Thursday night game in Duluth, they’re going to be on their third game in five days by the time this series is over. I think they’ll win Friday but the Lakers will capitalize Saturday for a split. Beavers 5-2, Lakers 3-2

Shane: Just two points separate these two team in the standings and both still have a shot a home ice. I’m not as worried about the Beavers’ schedule as they had last weekend off. The Lakers are at home where they’ve done a good job getting points. Since we don’t pick ties for three-point weekends I’m going with a Bemidji sweep. Beavers 4-1, 3-2

Northern Michigan at Ferris State

Jack: Fun fact: Both teams got their first series sweeps of the season last weekend. Ferris won a pair of games in Fairbanks while NMU hosted Anchorage and won both games. Both teams seem to be playing their best hockey right now. The Bulldogs are unbeaten in their last seven games. I think that streak ends at some point this season, but I’ll say it extends to eight before the ‘Cats break it up. Bulldogs 4-2, Wildcats 3-1

Shane: This is the matchup of the weekend, as it might even determine which of these teams hosts the other one in the playoffs. Both are playing good hockey right now, but, even before that, they almost always found ways to get points in a series. That will happen again this weekend in a couple of low-scoring games. Wildcats 2-1, Bulldogs 2-0

Minnesota State at Alabama Huntsville

Jack: The Mavs are looking to secure their second-straight MacNaughton Cup. A pair of wins would certainly help in that regard, especially since both teams chasing them (Tech and BG) are idle. But I wouldn’t write the Chargers as an easy W so fast. They played two pretty good games against MSU last time out in Mankato, including a game in which they were leading 1-0 going into the third period. I think they may be able to squeeze a win this weekend and keep their playoff hopes alive. Chargers 2-1, Mavericks 5-1

Shane: You’re right, Jack, that the Chargers played the Mavericks tough two months ago in Mankato, and they’re always competitive. But I just don’t see Minnesota State losing a game this weekend. The Mavs will give their lead atop the standings a nice, and needed, boost this weekend. Mavericks 5-2, 3-1

Miami at Bowling Green (Friday)

Jack: Bowling Green has one last chance to right the ship in nonconference play and give themselves (and the WCHA) a boost with a win over their instate rival. The Falcons are currently 0-3 against NCHC foes. Their 2-1 loss against the Redhawks last time out maybe isn’t that shocking, but losing to Western Michigan 4-1 and 1-0 in the other two games both remain head-scratches. I suppose that’s what happens when we have hockey #MACtion going on. I think the Falcons will salvage at least something this weekend — one of three home games left for them. Falcons 3, RedHawks 1

Shane: I was impressed with what I saw from Bowling Green last weekend, especially in its win on Saturday when it played with some desperation to get a much-needed win. Considering the WCHA is likely a one-bid conference, everybody’s playing for momentum right now, and I think the Falcons keep theirs going. Falcons 4, RedHawks 3

Last week: Shane 6-3-0, Jack 9-0-0. Overall: Shane 98-52-27, Jack 83-67-27

Three things from the weekend, Feb. 7

1. Crowded at the top

With Minnesota State and Bowling Green splitting in a matchup between the top two teams in the conference and Michigan Tech sweeping its series against Lake Superior State, just two points separate the Mavericks from the Falcons and the Huskies in the race for the MacNaughton Cup. Each has three league series remaining. Minnesota State has gone 1-2-3 against its closest competitors this year. Bowling Green is 2-3-3 against Tech and MSU, and Michigan Tech is 3-1-2 in those games. Tech is on an eight-game unbeaten streak (5-0-3) and has just one loss (to Michigan) since getting swept at home by Alaska Anchorage Dec. 4-5.

2. Bulldogs, Wildcats sweep

Ferris State and Northern Michigan scored their first sweeps of the season this weekend. The Bulldogs remained in fourth place and three points behind Bowling Green and Michigan Tech, winning twice at Alaska. Gerald Mayhew’s goal 15 seconds into overtime on Saturday night secured the sweep helped Ferris extend its unbeaten streak to seven games (5-0-2). Meanwhile in Marquette, the Wildcats beat Alaska Anchorage twice to stay in the home-ice chase. The Wildcats are four points behind Ferris but have two games in hand.

3. No. 1 stars

There were some excellent individual efforts over the weekend, starting in Mankato on Friday night. MSU senior Bryce Gervais scored two short-handed goals during in the same penalty and also set the school record for career shorties. He now has nine, three this season. In Houghton, Tech goalie Jamie Phillips was a Lakers penalty shot with 55 seconds remaining on Saturday from scoring back-to-back shutouts. He had 31 saves o Friday. Teammate Max Vallis, a senior playing in his eighth and ninth games of the season, scored three goals in the series and was named Winter Carnival MVP. Ferris State freshman goalie Darren Smith continued his stellar play with 51 saves, including a 31-save shutout on Friday. Northern Michgan’s Dominik Shine had a two-goal, two-assist weekend.

WCHA picks, Feb. 5-9

Shane here …

Jack and I visited Splitsville, and I ended up on the right side of the tracks, while Jack found out what the wrong side looked like. I not only got the North Star College Cup games right, but nailed two of the scores and was an empty-netter away from getting three, maybe all four. I guess I should have gone to Vegas. I wasn’t sure how to grade Jack’s Sunday games, since the matchups were wrong. I gave him a two wins since he had the right winners from that day (or was it out of pity?). Anyway, enough living in the past. You’re only as good as your latest picks, and there are some good WCHA matchups this weekend (and a rare, for the WCHA, Tuesday game).

Alaska Anchorage at Northern Michigan

Shane: The Seawolves got an important win on Saturday to salvage a home split against Alabama Huntsville and now have to make their final trip out of state. They’re 3-1-0 in the UP this season, but Northern Michigan has been solid at home and are trying to ensure they’re in Marquette for the playoffs. Wildcats 4-2, 5-2

Jack: I wouldn’t say NMU has been shocking this season, since I’m not sure a 10-10-6 team can be considered as such. But NMU has outperformed a bit and their results have been consistent — they haven’t had many games where things go off the rails for them, and they’ve picked up a few nice wins in the process. I think that continues this weekend. Wildcats 2-1, 3-1

Lake Superior State at Michigan Tech

Shane: It’s Winter Carnival weekend Houghton, a tradition like no other. The Huskies didn’t lose in January, going 3-0-3, including three-point weekends against the two teams ahead of them in the league standings. The Lakers were off last weekend after that drubbing in Mankato. I think Tech rolls. Huskies 5-1, 5-3

Jack: Tech has been great on the road this season, but a pretty pedestrian 4-4-1 in Houghton. I think that changes this weekend for Winter Carnival, Shane. I expect them to dominate the Lakers, who have lost their last three. Huskies 5-3, 5-4

Bowling Green at Minnesota State

Shane: This is the big matchup of the weekend, pitting the first-place Mavericks against the second-place Falcons. This series couldn’t get much closer over the last three years, with MSU holding a slim 4-3-2 edge. Five of the nine games have gone to overtime, including two ties earlier this season. Picking a split is the easy way to go here, naturally, but which team gets which day? Falcons 3-2, Mavericks 4-3

Jack: Bowling Green is probably the team that has given MSU more problems than anyone else over the last three years in the league, huh? I agree that this has split written all over it. I’ll try my luck and pick the opposite teams to win on both days. I may as well go for broke because I need the wins. Mavericks 5-4, Falcons 3-2

Ferris State at Alaska

Shane: The Nanooks finally get some home games, their first since Jan. 2-3. They haven’t won at home since Nov. 6 and want desperately to get out of non-playoff position. The Bulldogs are trying to maintain a home-ice spot, meanwhile, as well as keep a five-game unbeaten streak going. Both streaks end this weekend. Bulldogs 3-2, Nanooks 3-2

Jack: In my three things blog last week I mixed up the Alaska schools’ standings positions. I guess this is what happens when I write my blog on a Sunday after two fulls days of hockey at the X…. Anyway, the Nanooks haven’t looked great for most of this season, while the Bulldogs have been surprisingly good without CJ Motte. I think they extend their unbeaten streak and (finally!) sweep somebody. Bulldogs 3-2, 3-2

Bemidji State at Minnesota Duluth (Tuesday)

Shane:  I almost forgot about this makeup game from Oct. 9 when the power went out in Duluth last fall. Perhaps they should have played this last Thursday and made it a play-in game for the North Star Cup, getting all five Minnesota teams there. Anyway, I feel a lot different about both of these teams than I did five months ago. Beavers 4, Bulldogs 2

Jack:  You really wanted to force the defending North Star College Cup Champions into a play-in game before this year’s tournament? For shame, Shane…. Anyway, the Beavers have been surprisingly dominant against the Bulldogs: BSU is 4-1-1 in the past four years, which includes wins in the North Star Cup last year and earlier this year when the Bulldogs were the No. 2 team in the country. I think it’s pretty clear now that the Bulldogs aren’t quite the team we thought they were, and the Beavers might be (somewhat) underestimated. I think BSU wins again. Beavers 5, Bulldogs 2

Last week: Shane 10-1-1, Jack 3-8-1. Overall: Shane 92-49-27, Jack 74-67-27

Three things: Huskies close the gap with three-point weekend

Michigan Tech’s road unbeaten streak hit eight this weekend, and in the process inched closer to Bowling Green in the WCHA standings.

The Huskies earned the 4-4 tie in Friday night’s game in Bowling Green before scoring four more goals in Saturday’s 4-1 win.

It’s the second-straight three-point weekend for Tech — both against the top two teams in the league. Two weeks ago, the Huskies tied and beat Minnesota State in Houghton.

That means the three league leaders are neck-and-neck going into the final month of the regular season. All have played 20 games to this point, and the Mavericks (with 29 points) are just two points clear of Bowling Green and four points ahead of Tech.

All that means is that this upcoming weekend’s series between the Mavericks and the Falcons in Mankato becomes even more important. A sweep by the Mavericks makes it that much harder for the Falcons to catch up, while a BG sweep puts them in first place with six games to play.

Huntsville stays alive

Meanwhile, on the other end of the standings, Alabama Huntsville managed to earn a split with Alaska Anchorage and keep up some hope of making the WCHA playoffs.

The Chargers beat the Seawolves 2-1 on Friday, but Anchorage won Saturday’s series finale 3-2. UAH is in last place with 11 points — they’re three points behind Anchorage and five points back of Alaska. Not an ideal situation for them, to be sure, but they’re not quite out of the picture entirely, especially since they have eight games left.

The Seawolves are in a little better shape in ninth place, and have a more favorable schedule. The question is, can they catch the Nanooks? With Tyler Morley perhaps out for a lengthy period of time after suffering an injury this week in Alaska, the Seawolves definitely have a shot at catching them.

Nonconference still not good enough

With opportunities for league teams to score some valuable Pairwise-boosting nonconference wins dwindling, the league did OK in that regard this weekend. But at this point in the season, isn’t good enough.

The league is 22-33-9 in nonconference play overall, but 19-15-7 over everyone except the NCHC.

That’s right: The league’s record over the NCHC this season is a pretty dismal 3-18-2. Northern Michigan managed to pick up one of those three wins this weekend when the Wildcats beat Minnesota Duluth (they ended up splitting their series in Marquette). The other two league victories against the NCHC belong to Bemidji State (also over UMD) and Huntsville (over Colorado College).

Speaking of Bemidji State, they and Minnesota State both went 1-1 in the North Star College Cup this weekend both teams lost to St. Cloud State, but both also defeated Minnesota.

So although Wisconsin’s sweep of Alaska didn’t help, the WCHA is 10-8-5 over the Big Ten this season with a single game between Ferris State and Michigan left to play.

The other two nonconference opportunities for the WCHA this season are against the NCHC: Bemidji State’s power-outage-delayed makeup game against Duluth will be played next Tuesday, as will the home leg of Bowling Green’s home-and-home with Miami.

Pickin’ the WCHA, Jan. 29-31

Hey, it’s the last weekend of January!

That means there’s (basically) a month left in the college hockey season. As per usual, absolutely nothing has been decided in the WCHA, and likely won’t until the season’s last weekend (again).

There are only two conference series this weekend, but both are extremely meaningful to the standings. The plethora of nonconference games will also be intriguing — it’s the last real chance for the WCHA to gain some respect nationally (and the last chance for the bubble teams to move themselves up in the Pairwise).

I’m excited for this weekend, so let’s get to the picks!

Michigan Tech at Bowling Green

Shane: This should be a great series between two of the top teams in conference. Certainly, a lot of eyes down Mankato way will be scoreboard watching this one. A good offense, a good defense, a good home team, a good road team … it all makes for a tough call. I think they’ll split, but which team wins which day? Shot in the dark: Falcons 3-2, Huskies 4-2

Jack: Michigan Tech was off last weekend, but the quirk of the schedule has them playing both Minnesota State and BGSU in consecutive series. The Huskies aquitted themselves well against the Mavericks and I could very well see them getting three more points here. They’re a god road team. However, BG is excellent at home so I think this is a split as well. Just to be contrary, I’ll go with the opposite, Shane: Huskies 3-2, Falcons 4-2

Alabama Huntsville at Alaska Anchorage

Shane: Interesting series with a couple of teams that could be road weary heading into Anchorage. The Seawolves are coming off a two-weekend trip south, and the Chargers are making the long trek north. This also feels like a split. Chargers 2-1, Seawolves 4-1

Jack: Both teams have really deserved better fates than their respective records. The Chargers need the points more, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to take all four points here. Seawolves 3-2, Chargers 3-1

Minnesota Duluth at Northern Michigan

Shane: WCHA teams haven’t fared all that well against NCHC teams this season, but the Wildcats are at home and have played everybody tough this season, thanks to solid goaltending and defensive play. Surprisingly the Bulldogs haven’t scored much lately, so this sets up for at least one Northern win. (Actually, I’d call two ties, if that were allowed.) Wildcats 2-1, Bulldogs 5-2

Jack: I don’t think the Bulldogs are quite the team they were cracked up to be at the start of the season. They are ranked in the top 5 to start the season, but I just don’t see that from them. The Wildcats, on the other hand, have been consistently okay: They won’t overpower you offensively but they’ll defend as well as anybody and force you to play their style. That usually means a pair of low-scoring games, and I don’t see that changing the way UMD has played lately.  I’ll pick a split too, but I think NMU could steal a sweep (or three points). Bulldogs 2-1, Wildcats 2-1

Alaska at Wisconsin

Shane: The Nanooks head back on the road after a week off but go to Madison where the Badgers continue to struggle for a second year in a row. Bucky will be angry after getting kicked by Minnesota last weekend, and it will take it out on the visiting team from another conference. But I suspect Alaska will leave Wisconsin happy. Badgers 6-3, Nanooks 2-1

Jack: Fun fact: Wisconsin is 1-0-3 against the WCHA. Alaska, meanwhile, hasn’t played out of the conference since the two Alaska tournaments at the start of the year. The Nanooks have been disappointing, to be sure, but Wisconsin is in such disarray that the Badgers have barely looked like a team that belongs on the same ice as most of their Division I opponents right now. I’ll call as Nanooks sweep. Nanooks 4-2, 3-1

Minnesota State and Bemidji State in North Star College Cup

Shane: This should be a fun weekend in St. Paul with four teams that are playing some pretty good hockey right now. The Mavericks have a tough matchup with No. 3 St. Cloud State to start, while the Beavers take on red-hot Minnesota. Can the WCHA rivals avoid playing each other on Sunday? Why not? Huskies 5, Mavericks 4; Beavers 3, Gophers 2 … Mavericks 4, Gophers 2; Huskies 5, Beavers 2

Jack: Once again, the Beavers seem to be the odd team out in this tournament — of all the coverage I’ve seen in the Minnesota media, much of it has been focused on the Gophers and the Huskies without mentioning the defending champions (the Beavers). A few outlets have mentioned the defending runners-up (the Mavericks) but not many. That’s why I kind of think both teams will once again defy the pundits and play for the title again. After all, the Mavs need some redemption after their early-season 0-fer against St. Cloud. Mavericks 5, Huskies 1; Beavers 4, Gophers 2 … Huskies 6, Gophers 2; Mavericks 3, Beavers 2

Last week: Shane 4-1-1, Jack 2-3-1. Overall: Shane 82-48-26, Jack 71-59-26

Three things from the weekend, Jan 24

1. Mavericks make statement

Minnesota State bounced back from a one-point weekend at Michigan Tech in big-time fashion, scoring 13 goals in a romp over Lake Superior State in Mankato. The Mavericks won 8-0 and 5-1 against a team that had made some real strides defensively this season. One weekend might not be enough to make a trend, but if MSU has indeed found the goal-scoring touch it had been missing for much of the season, it could spell trouble for the rest of the league. Minnesota State is now 10-0-0 all-time against Lake Superior State. Forward C.J. Franklin, who had three goals and two assists this weekend, has 12 career points in eight games against the Lakers.

2. Bulldogs burst in

In each of its first eight league series, Ferris State secured two points for the league standings, hanging around and keeping itself in the hunt for home ice. In each of the last two series, however the Bulldogs have gotten three points, and they’re suddenly in a tie for third place. This weekend, Ferris played two overtime games at Bemidji State (surprise, surprise!) and got a win and a tie. On Friday, the Bulldogs’ Simon Denis forced OT with an extra-attacker goal with 25 seconds to play in regulation, and Mitch Maloney won it 47 seconds into extra time. On Saturday, goalie Darren Smith stopped 35 of 36 Bemidji State shots to get the tie. (Smith had 28 saves on Friday.)

3. Falcons fly forward

Bowling Green kept pace with Minnesota State in the race for the MacNaughton Cup by beating visiting Alaska Anchorage in straight sets 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday and Friday. The Falcons are three points behind the Mavericks in the standings but have two games in hand. They play an important series this coming weekend when they host Michigan Tech. Bowling Green’s offense exploded against the Seawolves, who were on the back half of a two-weekend road swing (the went 1-3-0 on the trip and have just one win in their last eight games). In the opener, the Falcons scored five goals in the second period; on Saturday, they had a three-goal first. Brandon Hawkins had a stellar weekend with three goals and two assists.

Pickin’ the WCHA: Jan. 21-23

Shane here …

Believe it or not, I made it home from Houghton unscathed on Sunday despite the fact that the town got 27 or so inches of lake-effect snow last Saturday while I was there for the Minnesota State-Michigan Tech series. While I was worried about getting out of town, the Yoopers basically said, “This is nuthin,” and went about their business, including nearly filling up the MacInnes Arena for the second game of that series. That’s college hockey right there. Tech gets the weekend off after that three-point weekend, but six teams are in action, as are Jack and I and our picks. …

Alaska Anchorage at Bowling Green

Shane: The Seawolves wrap up a two-week road trip with this Thursday-Friday series at Bowling Green. It’s an important weekend for both teams, who are trying to create a little separation in the standings. Anchorage, which is tied with rival (and idle) Alaska for eighth has been better on the road than previous years, but it’s hard to pick against the Falcons, who are tied for second with Michigan Tech, at home. Falcons 3-2, 4-2

Jack: Normally I would agree and call for a BGSU sweep in this series — especially as good as they’ve been at home — but they’ve struggled in general lately. I think the Seawolves can score one win. Seawolves 4-1, Falcons 3-2

Lake Superior State at Minnesota State

Shane: The Mavericks made it to Mankato before I did, and I don’t think they were too happy about getting just one point against the Huskies. Scoring continues to be an issue for them, and the stingy Lakers won’t willingly help them get on track. Still, something tells me MSU is poised for a breakout weekend, and this could be it. Mavericks 5-2, 4-2

Jack: The Lakers have been somewhat resurgent in the second half of the year, scoring a win against Bowling Green and tying Michigan Tech in the past month-and-a-half. They haven’t played Minnesota State yet, and although the Mavericks will surely be surly after getting just the point against Tech, I think the Lakers may be able to win a squeaker and earn the split. Lakers 2-1, Mavericks 6-2

Ferris State at Bemidji State

Shane: The Beavers are the hottest team in the conference right now. They’re on a six-game unbeaten streak with five wins and 4.1 goals per game over that stretch. The Bulldogs are playing well, too, and — I know this sounds like a broken record (kids today know what that means, right?) — they find a way to get points every weekend. A split is the safe bet here. Beavers 5-2, Bulldogs 3-2

Jack: This series is turning into a nice little rivalry since the Bulldogs joined the WCHA. BSU and Ferris have already played 12 times in the past three seasons (these two games will be Nos. 13 and 14), including first-round playoff series in both 2014 and 2015. (Both of those playoff series featured Ferris advancing following a marathon overtime in game two). Anyway, the teams already split a series earlier this season in Big Rapids. And although the Beavs are red-hot right now, I think the Bulldogs will cool them down somewhat and earn yet another split. Beavers 5-3, Bulldogs 4-3

Last week: Shane 5-4-2, Jack 5-4-2. Overall: Shane 78-47-25, Jack 69-56-25

Three things: More overtime, but ground gained?

1. Tech beats MSU (finally), and gains some ground

For once, a key WCHA series this weekend didn’t end in a split. Michigan Tech took three of four points from conference leaders Minnesota State in a (very snowy) Houghton on Friday and Saturday. Despite the crazy lake-effect snow on Saturday night, 3,153 people saw the Huskies beat the Mavericks 3-1 — their first win over the MSU since the 2011-12 season. That snapped a 10-game winless streak (which included Friday night’s 2-2 tie) and ultimately pulled the Huskies into a a tie for second place with idle (in the conference) Bowling Green.

2. Nonconference struggles continue

Speaking of Bowling Green, the Falcons once again lost in nonconference play — this time falling to instate rivals Miami 2-1. The RedHawks scored with two seconds left in the game to earn the win in Oxford. The loss gives BG an 0-3 record against NCHC foes and moves them to 4-4-1 overall in nonconference play. It’s one area where the league has struggled — overall conference teams are 23-28-9 out of the league, including a dismal 2-15-2 against the NCHC. The only two teams to beat NCHC foes so far are Bemidji State (over Minnesota Duluth) and Alabama Huntsville (which split with Colorado College). It’s part of the reason why there’s only one WCHA team (MSU) in the top 20 of the Pairwise rankings so far. And it’s getting to the point where opportunities for nonconference wins (and chances to improve PRW rankings) are going to be scarce. On a more positive n0te, Bemidji State swept Arizona State, which should help a little — especially since the conference’s PWR took a hit when the Sun Devils swept Lake Superior State on the road, and also beat Alaska earlier this season.

3. More splits (shocking, right?)

Aside from Tech taking three points from MSU, two conference series ended in splits: Alaska at Northern Michigan and Alaska Anchorage at Lake Superior State. In Marquette, the Nanooks beat the Wildcats 3-2 (in overtime, because of course) on Friday before NMU won 5-3 on Saturday. In Sault Ste. Marie, the Lakers ended up with a 4-2 win in Saturday before the Seawolves took Sunday’s game 3-1.

And finally, one more result of note: Ferris State has yet to sweep or be swept, and the Bulldogs continued that streak this week, when they took three points from Huntsville. The Bulldogs and Chargers tied 3-3 on Friday but the Bulldogs won 4-1 on Saturday.

Weekend picks, Jan. 15-16

Hey all.

Luckily, for your sake, I didn’t try something dumb like think of a David Bowie lyric to go with each series this weekend. OK, I tried for like 20 minutes but quit and just decided to listen to the albums Low and Aladdin Sane instead while making my picks.

I also wasted time reviewing dark and light uniforms for each of the 10 WCHA teams earlier today, if you’d like to read the fruits of that.

Anyway, there are some really interesting series this week, but I think by far the one that most will be focused on is in Houghton, where Minnesota State battles Michigan Tech for a shot at first place.

It’s still early enough in league play that I’m still not sure which teams are going to for sure miss the playoffs, or which ones will for sure have home ice — but we’re close. Maybe some smoke will have cleared by the time we’re done here?

Alabama Huntsville at Ferris State

Shane: My gut tells me this is going to be a Bulldogs sweep, but it’s hard to argue with the trends. And a big trend is that Ferris State has pretty much split or gotten two points out of every series it’s played so far this season. The Chargers also won a game the last time they went to Big Rapids. So … Bulldogs 4-1, Chargers 2-1

Jack: Part of me wanted to pick a Chargers sweep just to be contrary, but I, like you, think the power of the split is too strong in Big Rapids. Chargers 3-1, Bulldogs 5-2

Minnesota State at Michigan Tech

Shane: Here’s another trend: The Mavericks are on a nine-game unbeaten streak against the Huskies. Considering how close those teams have been and continue to be in the WCHA standings, that’s pretty crazy. Both teams are playing decent hockey right now, and I think Tech snaps the streak, only to have MSU maintain its lead in the league standings. Huskies 4-2, Mavericks 3-2

Jack: You get to see a pretty good series this weekend, Shane, although I don’t envy the snowy drive ahead of you. And as you said, both teams have been decent, but neither have been dominant recently. This feels like a split.  Mavericks 4-2, Huskies 5-3

Alaska at Northern Michigan

Shane: The Wildcats, I think, are going to be the most dangerous team in the WCHA playoffs come March, no matter where they play, considering their goaltending, their defensive commitment and a talented top line. With the Nanooks on a long road trip right now, I think Northern Michigan will be too tough at home. Wildcats 2-1, 1-0

Jack: I noticed lots of hating on Northern Michigan for their style of play. And while their defensive style isn’t the most fun to watch, especially on the wide-open big ice they play on in Marquette, you can’t knock a team for doing what they do best: Getting an early lead then defending the fort. A win is, after all, a win (unless you’re NMU and you’d prefer a scoreless tie). Either way, they’ll get at least two points this weekend, weather by tie or by split. I think three is more likely and since we can’t pick ties, I’ll say a sweep.  Wildcats 1-0, 1-0

Arizona State at Bemidji State

Shane: The Sun Devils are getting quite the college hockey education in their first year with trips to Alaska, the U.P. and Madison, just to name a few stops. This weekend, they’re in Bemidji, where I suspect they’ll go home with a nice team picture in front of Paul and Babe and a couple of losses to the suddenly high-scoring Beavers. Beavers 5-2, 4-1

Jack: Saturday’s forecast calls for a high of nine below (not including windchill), so I suspect we’ll see a lot of ski masks and scarves in that tourist trap photo from the Sun Devils. I think the Beavers will likely win this one, but this seems like a trap series for them: They’re coming off a great week in Alaska, but that long trip is rough on most teams. The Beavers are using their conference-mandated bye week (the WCHA builds in bye weeks the week after teams take that long Alaska trip) to get this series in. And the Sun Devils are already 3-1-0 in the other four games they’ve played against WCHA teams. So the Beavers will need to be careful. I think a BSU sweep is most likely but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Devils take one. Sun Devils 4-3, Beavers 6-2

Alaska Anchorage at Lake Superior State (Saturday-Sunday)

Shane: All of the U.P. teams are at home this weekend. There should be some sort of decree made by WCHA commissioner Billy Robertson, shouldn’t there? The Lakers look like a confident team right now, scoring a big split against Bowling Green last week. The Seawolves, on the other hand, are back to struggling a bit. Can they regain the magic they found the last time they were in the U.P.? Maybe one night. Seawolves 3-2, Lakers 3-1

Jack: Here’s a another situation where I don’t know what to make of either of these teams. UAA had more than a month to prep for Bemidji State, and the Beavers overwhelmed them offensively. Lake State, meanwhile, has played basically .500 hockey in the past two months (they are 6-6-4 since the start of November). I think they’re starting to find something. I sense a sweep. Lakers 4-2, 3-2

Bowling Green at Miami (Saturday only)

Shane: The Falcons will step out of WCHA play to take on their in-state rival. This is a good chance to improve the league’s nonconference record, as the RedHawks are not the same as they’ve been in previous years. Falcons 3-2

Jack: If only this single-game start of a home-and-home were on a Tuesday or Thursday… that way I could make a crazy scoring prediction and just use the excuse of #HockeyMACtion. Alas, I don’t think #MACtion counts on weekends, only on weekdays… regardless, I think the Falcons will win here and move a step closer towards winning the (unofficial) Ohio state championship. Falcons 4-2

Last week: Shane 7-3-0, Jack 5-5-0. Overall: Shane 73-43-23, Jack 64-52-23

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