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College Hockey:
WCHA picks: Feb. 24-25

No. 6 Minnesota (21-11-1, 17-7-0 WCHA) at Nebraska-Omaha (14-12-6, 11-8-5 WCHA)

Tyler: Minnesota’s speed and skill is capable of overmatching Nebraska-Omaha in a time when the Gophers power play is clicking. The PP has scored six goals on 19 chances over the past five games and has scored once in each of the last five games. No team in the WCHA matchesMinnesota’s depth at forward and clearly has the advantage over a UNO team that’s been thin up front all season. Ryan Massa is the X-factor and gives UNO a chance in this series. Minny sweep

Brian:  The stats say Minnesota is better offensively, defensively, in goal, and has an overall edge in special teams. With 15 points (7 goals, 8 assists) in their last six games, the Haula-Hansen-Warning line is has seemingly rediscovered its scoring touch. But the Gophers are 7-6-1 (.536) on the road and haven’t swept a road series since October. The Mavs, on the other hand, want nothing more than to hang on to home ice for the playoffs and Massa always gives UNO a chance to win, especially at home. This will likely bite me in the behind but … split.

 

No. 16 Colorado College (16-12-2, 13-10-1 WCHA) at No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth (20-7-5, 14-6-4 WCHA)

Tyler: The Bulldogs need a big sweep to get back on track after weeks of struggling against teams they should beat. JT Brown returned to practice this week and if he’s good to go, will help UMD against a CC team that’s given up a lot of goals the past few weeks. Joe Howe has been cold all season for the Tigers and Josh Thorimbert looked shaky last weekend against Nebraska-Omaha. UMD has the advantage, predicting a sweep

Brian:  Like North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha, Colorado College finds itself just three points out of third place in the WCHA; but also only three points out of seventh. With home ice already secured for UMD, CC has a bit more to play for at this point despite the Bulldogs’ chase for the MacNaughton Cup. With J.T. Brown’s availability uncertain as I type this, I see a split.

 

Alaska Fairbanks (11-17-4, 8-16-4-2 CCHA) at Alaska-Anchorage (8-20-2, 5-20-1 WCHA) – Home-and-home

Tyler: Neither team really has a whole lot of punch but the Nanooks have hung with and beat some of the CCHA’s best teams and should have the upper hand in this one. Alaska sweep

Brian: If you don’t think this series is huge, think again. This is the battle for supremacy of a state so enormous that its land mass could blanket an area covering the entire rest of the WCHA. The Governor’s Cup competition is the arctic equivalent of Denver/Colorado College or Minnesota/North Dakota. While Dave Shyiak is 10-6-2 vs. UAF in his tenure atAnchorage and the Seawolves have won seven of the last 11 meetings (7-3-1), the Nanooks have won three of the last four in the series (3-1-0) and have had possession of the Governor’s Cup in 10 of the 18 years of its existence. It’s a split this year.

 

Wisconsin (13-15-2, 8-14-2 WCHA) at Bemidji State (15-14-3, 9-12-3 WCHA)

Tyler:  The Badgers had a nice showing Saturday againstDenver at theKohlCenter butWisconsin has been an awful road team this season. Meanwhile, before the Beavers got swept last weekend atMinnesota, BSU earned seven of eight possible points in the two weeks prior. The Beavers return home where they are 11-4-1 this season. BSU sweep

Brian: The Beavers are awfully tough at home and the Badgers have struggled (1-8-1) on the road, although they’ve been outscored by a total of 15 goals in those 10 games. But it is UW’s first visit to the unfriendly confines of the Sanford Center in what should be an emotional final weekend at home for BSU’s seniors. Bemidji State sweep.

 

St. Cloud State (13-15-4, 10-11-3 WCHA) at Michigan Tech (13-15-4, 10-10-4 WCHA)

Tyler: Whichever team comes out on top this weekend still has a shot to earn home ice in the first week of the WCHA Playoffs. SCSU is a better team offensively with the edge in goaltending but Tech has the advantage on special teams. Split

Brian: AlthoughSt. CloudState’s road record is 5-9-1, SCSU has won three of its last four away from theGranite City. Michigan Tech is 8-5-2 at home but is 1-3-2 since its three-point weekend inDuluth including a disappointing loss and tie against Nebraska-Omaha two weeks ago on Winter Carnival weekend. With postseason home ice still in play, this series should be played hard and fast with plenty of rubber flying as each team allows over 30 shots per game. Although with the split I’m predicting I don’t see either team gaining much ground.

 

No. 14 North Dakota (17-11-3, 13-10-1 WCHA) at No. 9 Denver (18-10-4, 13-7-4 WCHA)

Tyler: This one may look like a neutral-site game when Magness Arena is more than sprinkled with green this weekend because UND always has plenty of fans at Denver. It’s a possible WCHA Final Five Championship preview with both teams on roll right now. If Brad Eidsness has to start in goal for UND this weekend, that’s fine. He’s done a superb job this season filling in for Aaron Dell. Split

Brian: The Pioneers are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games but are coming off of a 5-2 loss to 10th place Wisconsin.North Dakota, meanwhile, is 8-3-2 since the break including 5-1-1 in its last seven. AlthoughDenver has the edge in the last 10 meetings (5-4-1) UND has won four of the last five in the series. The stakes being what they are withNorth Dakota trailing DU by three points and only up by three on Michigan Tech for the final home ice spot, a sweep will be tough to pull off in this one. I’m going with a split.

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  • Guest

    DU & UND a “possible Final Five Championship preview” – let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here…

    • Guest

      Or this? ”
      No team in the WCHA matches Minnesota’s depth at forward”.
      Minnesota’s depth at forward ends after Rau and Bjugstad.  Patterson better hope he is on top of his game when Rau and Bjugstad are having lack luster performances.

      • RBTGT

         Notwithstanding that UNO has one of the better penalty kills in the nation.

      • GoldyTheGreat

        6 forwards with double digit goals is pretty good depth.

        • Scott Reed

          yes, but their other forwards are seeing a lot better matchups and would not be doing as well if it wasn’t for your first line drawing all the attention.  but you are right, depth at forward is not a problem for the gophers

          • GoldyTheGreat

            I don’t really understand your line of reasoning.

          • Scott Reed

            doesn’t surprise me… your a gopher fan there is probably a lot of things you don’t understand

          • GoldyTheGreat

            Ha. Just giving you a chance to elaborate Scott. Your comment was ridiculous and didn’t make any sense. The Gophers swept Omaha by the way…

          • Scott Reed

            Hindsight is 20/20… I too can read the news. 

          • Mike Brodkorb

            The first line is DOMINANT. The 2nd and 3rd are also excellent, and could be a first line at many other programs.

          • GoldyTheGreat

            Yeah exactly.. And our first line is made up of 1 Freshmen (Rau), 1 Sophomore (Bjugstad) and 1 Red shirt Sophomore (Budish). Honestly this line has dominated and will only get better in the future.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/47PKUYKAFBPJBMZF33WFXLKANA Chad

            2/3rds of that line will be gonzo next year.

            So much for the future.

          • Phoenixfyre1313

            highly doubtful.  Maybe 1/3, but that is unlikely also.

          • GoldyTheGreat

            Say what you have to make you feel better.

          • Scott Reed

            None of them will graduate a gopher

          • Goldy

            Since when has a top college athletes main goal to get a diploma?

          • Scott Reed

            It never has been but when the conversation goes down the road of the gophers future… and the its all based around a freshman and a shopmore.  The point that they aren’t going to stay 4 years, (the future) is a very valid point that your obviously not smart enough to grasp

          • Phoenixfyre1313

            Budish likely will, but then that wasn’t the direction of the conversation.

          • DMOLDS19

            im not sure i understand, i feel like you basically said “if you didnt have GREAT players (first line) your team wouldnt be GOOD”. but we do have a few great player so our team is good.

          • Scott Reed

            No not really what I said at all.  If the first line wasn’t so good then the rest of the lines would see tougher matchups more often and not have as good of numbers.  

      • Steven Pfeiffer

        Have you ever watched a Gopher game,or are you just spewing incoherently?

      • xTEDxTHExREDx

        UMD is comparable if not better than UMTC when it comes to forwards. You guys can spew all the stats you want but the point is while you guys were padding your stats against absolute crap compitition the Bulldogs were busy playing teams like Notre Dame, western michigan, and providence. Rau would be a 3rd or 4th liner for UMD. I can’t wait to play the Gophers (final five/NCAA’s) again I really like our chances this time around.

        • xTEDxTHExREDx

          P.S. Reiter runs rings around Patterson.

          • Phoenixfyre1313

            Ted, Ted, Ted you have an argument about the first lines for UMD and the Gophers, but your comment about Patterson and Reiter is way off base.  Let’s review the facts shall we?  On the national level Patterson is the 9th ranked goalie, Reiter 26th.  wins Patterson 21, Reiter 18, save% Patterson .917, Reiter  .910, GAA Patterson 2.09, Reiter 2.44 shutouts Patterson 7, Reiter 3.  In the WCHA, Patterson is ranked as the #1 goalie, Rieter 6th.  Wins Patterson 17, Reiter 13, Save %  Patterson .922, Reiter .905, GAA Patterson 2.00, Reiter 2.61, shutouts Patterson 4, Reiter 3.  So show me exactly where Reiter runs rings around Patterson, except in your head????  Next time you care to spew senseless garbage, how about backing it up with facts or just keeping it to yourself!

          • GoldyTheGreat

            Nice burn.

        • guest

          Wait a minute…this Providence team you’re referring to isn’t by chance the same team that’s nowhere to be found in the PWR top 32, is it? It’s also funny that you failed to mention UMD had that real gut-checking series against Alabama-Huntsville. By the way, the Gopher’s played Notre Dame too, along with Michigan State. Know stuff about stuff before you subject us all to your ignorance-laden rants.

          • xTEDxTHExREDx

            your team is crap and we are gonna expose you son.

          • jdhockeyboyz

            I suggest more ice and more mix.

          • xTEDxTHExREDx

            Providence is middle of the table in Hockey east buddy. i was just stating that the gophs stats are inflated from beating SACRED HEART 15-0 over a weekend.

          • guest

            Providence is .500 in the conference and below .500 overall, barely a resume to base your argument on, but that’s beside the point. Are you saying that UMD didn’t put A-H on their schedule to pad their stats as well? The fact that UMD was unable to put up more points against their “cream puff” has nothing to do with Minnesota handling their business when they played Sacred Heart.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/47PKUYKAFBPJBMZF33WFXLKANA Chad

            Several points:

            There’s a reason the UAH goalie is transferring to NoDak–because he’s better than Sacred Heart’s ‘tender..

            UAH has no conference.  UMD–along with Miami, Denver, Omaha, Maine, Western Michigan and Ohio State–threw them a bone so they could actually HAVE a hockey program.

            Quick question: Does Gophers remember that there is actually college hockey played after the second weekend in March?

          • GoldyTheGreat

            Didn’t your team lose to Alaska Anchorage and get blasted 5-0 by Michigan Tech?.. 

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/47PKUYKAFBPJBMZF33WFXLKANA Chad

            Let’s see: Niagara (cupcake), Vermont (cupcake and a loss), Sacred Heart (cupcake), Northeastern (loss), Michigan State (loss & tie), Notre Dame (loss)……

            Looking at which team took care of business in the non-conference schedule, it’s no wonder we’re ahead of y’all in the PWR.

            If you’re gonna schedule cupcakes, you sure as h*ll better win.

          • GoldytheGreat

            Lol… Ya’ll? Is that how you guys talk up there in Duluth? You’re going to penalize us for beating down Sacred Heart and Niagra? Didn’t your team barely beat the worst team in college hockey (Huntesville)? Don’t forget about being swept by the Gophers at home earlier this season. And if those loses don’t count for some odd reason (which apparently to Duluth fans they don’t) then our early season losses are irrelevant.

          • skiumah2

            And UMD had a chance to “pad” their stats against Alabama Huntsville but didn’t. A great hockey mind you are not.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/47PKUYKAFBPJBMZF33WFXLKANA Chad

            Gopher record vs. CCHA teams: 0-2-1

            UMD record vs. CCHA teams: 3-1-0

            Eat it.

          • Phoenixfyre1313

            As I recall you play in the WCHA, too bad you couldn’t post similar number against your conference opponents…..

    • Scott Reed

      we’ve seen crazier things… but your right…on the other hand they are both playing hot at the right time of the year. 

    • Aj Sollom

      The final five championship refers to the final five games in the wcha tournament. So its the 6 teams left after first round of playoffs. Having said that, it is quite possible denver and nodak could play each other in that second round, and thats what the author meant. He was not reffering to the final five championship game, although i can see where you may have been confused

  • Scott Reed

    Bulldog sweep at home, gophers split on the road losing friday night, UND/denver split.  that puts the dogs and gophers tied at 36 and denver at 32 and a tie for 4th at 29. That leaves a final weekend with all 3 places in the conference up for grabs.  Its going to be a great couple fo weeks for WCHA hockey! 

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