Well, here we go, another week of picks in the books. Alaska-Anchorage has the week off so Bemidji State heads east to play red-hot Lake Superior State. One team aims to continue validating its start, another looks for a bounce-back weekend at home, a well-respected bench boss coaches his 500th game, one series could easily result in two ties, and unnamed sources have indicated the possibility of a heated rivalry rekindling this weekend. As always, please remember this is for entertainment purposes only.
Minnesota State (1-5-0, 0-2-0 WCHA) at No. 16 Michigan Tech (5-2-1, 3-2-1 WCHA)
Tyler: Tech is seemingly unbeaten at home so far this season and as big as a win would be for MSU, the injuries will still hurt them. Tech sweep
Brian: The Mavericks lead the all-time series 23-14-4 and have won five of the last eight meetings (5-2-1). But the Huskies’ hold an 11-10-3 edge at home in the series and stand 5-0-1 overall this season at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena, outscoring opponents 21-11 in the process. An already offensively-challenged Minnesota State team is far from healthy while MTU will be suiting up last week’s offensive and defensive players of the week in Milos Gordic and Josh Robinson respectively. Tech takes a pair.
No. 15 North Dakota (3-4-1, 1-3-0 WCHA) at No. 5 Minnesota (7-1-0, 4-0-0 WCHA)
Tyler: Both teams have a lot riding on this series. If this isn’t the weekend Aaron Dell or Brad Eidsness has the breakout performance UND needs, the Fighting Sioux is going to have to score a lot to keep up with Minnesota’s scoring attack. It’ll be interesting to see if UND eases up or plays it’s usual rough-and-tumble style this weekend. The Gophers have the best power play in the nation in the nation and the Sioux may not want to risk taking penalties. But the Gophers’ 7-1 record will be put to the test by the Sioux nonetheless. Split
Brian: The Fighting Sioux have scored 10 goals in their last 139 shots on goal. “We couldn’t put the puck in the ocean for a few games in a row”, said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol of his team’s scoring slump. Using the same analogy, Minnesota’s Ken Patterson, conversely, has been guarding a puddle for the most part this season posting shutouts in four of the Gophers’ eight games. The Sioux are physically more intimidating, Ben Blood is a stud, and the Brock Nelson-Corban-Knight-Danny Kristo line is dynamic. But Minnesota’s scoring depth and goaltending advantages overcome that in a Minnesota sweep.
No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth (4-3-1, 2-2-0 WCHA) at No. 8 Denver (3-2-1, 2-1-1 WCHA)
Tyler: This will be a fired-up Denver team after leaving Houghton with just one point last week and scoring just three goals. The offensive firepower the Pioneers are known for will take aim at Bulldogs goaltender Kenny Reiter and his sub-par save percentage (.891). DU sweep
Brian: After an eye-opening weekend at Michigan Tech, the Pioneers received an attitude adjustment in what coach George Gwozdecky kindly referred to as “a pretty physically demanding practice.” Sounds like a bag-skate to me. To have a chance, the Bulldogs had better be prepared to weather early storms in each game as Denver tries to rectify its first-period scoring woes (shutout in the opening period of three of six games). A lot will depend on how well DU goaltender Adam Murray has recovered from last week’s injury while UMD goalie Kenny Reiter will have to resurrect the form he showed most of last weekend. Ultimately, I think the Denver Pioneers everyone expected to see from the start emerges this week which doesn’t bode well for the national champs. DU takes two.
Wisconsin (4-4-0, 3-3-0 WCHA) at St. Cloud State (3-4-1, 1-1-0 WCHA)
Tyler: Ryan Faragher is the X Factor this weekend, who will again start in Mike Lee’s place. Will the SCSU goalkeeper have the performance like last weekend’s, in which he turned away 67 of the 70 shots he faced, or will Wisconsin take advantage of an inexperience freshman goalie? Wisconsin’s offense isn’t too aggressive with the WCHA’s third-lowest shots-per-game total (24), but neither are the Huskies (25 shots per game, fourth-lowest in the WCHA) going against a pair of freshman goalies for Wisconsin. Even matchup here. Split
Brian: They are both essentially .500 teams, each team split its most recent series, a freshman goalie will start both games for each team, Wisconsin leads the all-time series 43-28-8 but the Huskies have a 16-15-4 edge in the Granite City, and the teams are 4-4 in their last eight meetings. Detect a pattern here? Split
No. 2 Colorado College (4-0-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) at Nebraska-Omaha (4-4-0, 3-1-0 WCHA)
Tyler: This one is a battle of two powerful top lines but I like CC’s defense and goaltending in this series. CC sweep
Brian: The Colorado College Tigers arrive for their first-ever visit to Omaha having played the fewest games of any WCHA team. Mavericks coach Dean Blais will coach his 500th and 501st career games this weekend but will have to wait at least one more week for his 308th overall win as CC will sweep.
Bemidji State (3-5-0, 2-4-0 WCHA) at No. 11 Lake Superior State (7-1-0, 5-1-0 CCHA)
Tyler: The Beavers only came up with three goals on 40 shots for the weekend against a UMD team that has been awfully shaky this season and Lake Superior has good numbers in its own zone. Lake Superior sweep
Brian: The two teams are 3-1 against Miami this season with LSSU sweeping the Redhawks last weekend and Bemidji State splitting at Miami to open the season. But Miami’s 2-6 record tends to temper any enthusiasm over those results. The Lakers hold a 21-16-2 advantage in the overall series but they haven’t met since 2005 when LSSU traveled to Bemidji and left with a win and a tie (2-1, 2-2). After holding UMD to just one goal last Saturday (in a 1-0 loss) BSU goalie Dan Bakala seems to have recovered from an abysmal start two weeks ago at home against Michigan Tech in which he allowed three goals on four shots. I like LSSU’s record but I simply don’t trust it and think the Beavers can get it done on the road if only once. Split