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College Hockey:
WCHA picks: March 2-3

No. 9 Denver (19-11-4, 14-8-4 WCHA) at Nebraska-Omaha (14-14-6, 11-10-5 WCHA)

Tyler:  Denver’s stars are getting hot at the right time as Jason Zucker, Luke Salazar and Nick Shore are all on five-game point streaks and Zucker has goals in all five of those games. Nebraska-Omaha’s defense has been questionable and wildly inconsistent with UNO utilizing multiple goalies all season. Ryan Massa seemed to emerge as the Mavericks go-to goalie but hasn’t gotten the goal support. UNO will earn a split playing in its own building.

Brian:  After taking three of four points from UNO in a series earlier this season in Denver, the Pioneers are 9-3-1 all time against Nebraska-Omaha but just 2-3 on the road against the Mavericks. After suffering its first sweep at home last weekend at the hands of Minnesota, UNO is a mediocre 5-5-2 at CenturyLink Center which matches DU’s road record. With the split I’m predicting, Denver will earn its first road win of the year against a team currently sitting above eighth in the league standings.

 

No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth (22-7-5, 16-6-4 WCHA) at St. Cloud State (14-16-4, 11-12-3 WCHA)

Tyler: The Huskies outscored the Bulldogs 11-5 in a season series last season and UMD had to sweat out nine periods before it advanced past SCSU in last year’s playoffs. Evidently, the Huskies match up well with the Bulldogs despite being classified by most as an overwhelming underdog this weekend. SCSU has sent nearly every loss down to the wire since Christmas but the lack of depth has hurt the Huskies. UMD, with its depth and talent, will get at least a split this weekend, but it won’t be easy.

Brian:  The Bulldogs are by far the WCHA’s best road team at 7-2-3 (.708) while the Huskies are a very average 5-5-2 at home this year. SCSU has played UMD tough of late going 4-4-2 in its last 10 meetings with the Bulldogs including 2-2-1 in the last five. But with a five game unbeaten streak under its belt, Minnesota-Duluth appears to have regained a bit if its swagger in time for another potentially long postseason run. UMD sweep.

 

Bemidji State (15-16-3, 9-14-3 WCHA) at Alaska-Anchorage (9-21-2, 5-20-1 WCHA)

Tyler: The Beavers offense has been dreadful in four straight losses over the past two weeks and the BSU defense/Dan Bakala has been off in that time. This is a good turnaround series for the Beavers, but neither team has the consistency to complete a sweep. Split

Brian: The Beavers are 2-8-2 on the road this year but the Seawolves have only earned four of their 11 WCHA points at home this season. UAA has yet to sweep a team anywhere this season but has been swept eight times (four of them at home). BSU hasn’t won two straight on the road, much less sweep anyone away from the Sanford Center, so I don’t see either team winning twice. Split.

 

Wisconsin (15-15-2, 10-14-2 WCHA) at No. 4t Minnesota (23-11-1, 19-7-0 WCHA)

Tyler:  The Badgers snapped out of a dreadful road funk with its first road sweep of the season last weekend at Bemidji State. Minnesota will be a slightly tougher challenge. The Gophers should get a couple guys back from injury this weekend in Nick Larson and Ben Marshall and Don Lucia seemed optimistic Nick Bjugstad will play this weekend after getting injured last week in Omaha. Gophers sweep.

BrianAs impressive as Wisconsin’s sweep at Bemidji last weekend was, it speaks volumes when two wins can nearly double your road winning percentage (.150 to .292). This weekend the Badgers face a much tougher team in Minnesota with a much better home record (9-5-0, .643) in a far more challenging venue in Mariucci Arena. UW freshman goalie Joel Rumpel will need to be up to the challenge if Wisconsin is to avoid the Minnesota sweep I’m predicting.

 

Michigan Tech (14-16-4, 11-11-4 WCHA) at No. 19 Colorado College (16-14-2, 13-12-1 WCHA)

Tyler: Go back to Jan. 21 and you’ll find that Colorado College has scored more than three goals in a game just once in 10 games. I think the Tigers offense gets back on track this weekend against the Huskies and a streaky Josh Robinson in goal. But Robinson could just as well be on and as long as Tech takes advantage of a CC defense with many holes lately, it can find success this weekend. Split

Brian: With a 4-8-2 record since the first of the year including a 2-5-1 mark in February and five losses in its last seven league games (1-5-1), Colorado College is fortunate to still be playing for first round home ice in the WCHA playoffs. The Tigers have swept three series this season, all at home, but all have been over teams below the Huskies in the current standings. Michigan Tech, meanwhile, has won just four conference road games this season (4-6-2) but half have come against the WCHA’s top two teams, Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth. The stage is set for a split.

 

Minnesota State (12-20-2, 8-16-2 WCHA) at No. 14 North Dakota (18-12-3, 14-11-1 WCHA)

Tyler: Any possibilities of Colorado College and/or Nebraska-Omaha pulling ahead of UND will be dashed this weekend. Although no team is safe from complacency, UND should easily take care of the Mavericks this weekend. MSU hasn’t won in Grand Forks since the 2006 playoffs. UND sweep

BrianWith Dave Hakstol behind the bench it goes without saying that UND is playing well at this time of year. Perennially strong in the second half, the Sioux are 14-5 in their last 21 games dating back to Thanksgiving. Although the Mavericks are a solid 7-5-1 in their last 13 games, North Dakota has won seven straight over Minnesota State and is 16-1-1 in its last 18 games against MSU. Considering the time of year, these are games the Fighting Sioux just don’t lose. UND sweep.

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