Alaska-Anchorage (2-1-1) at No. 4 North Dakota (1-1)
Joe: There is only one number you need to know: 27. That is the number of games dating back to Dec. 9, 2011, since UND had a healthy scratch. They have a full complement of 18 skaters available this weekend which should be more than enough to defeat a team they beat last Friday with only 15. North Dakota sweep.
Tyler: North Dakota went out and blanked the Seawolves, 5-0, with just three lines last weekend in Anchorage. UND isn’t completely healed but it has key forwards like Danny Kristo and Corban Knight added to the lineup and the games are in Grand Forks. Hard to pick anything but a UND sweep.
Michigan Tech (2-2, 1-1 WCHA) at No. 5 Denver (2-0)
Joe: Mel Pearson’s recruits, sophomore Blake Pietila and Tanner Kero, are off to good starts while freshman goalie Pheonix Copley showed he can handle playing top-tier teams. The Pioneers offense looked potent against Air Force and Massachusetts-Lowell and the defense is sound. Since the Pioneers are at home, they win a close one and draw a tie.
Tyler: The Huskies need to do exactly what they did last week at home against No. 1 Minnesota to be successful at Denver. Tech had the edge in Friday night’s win when it came to loose pucks and movement through the neutral zone. The Huskies forced mistakes on the blue line and if they expose the Denver defensemen’s youth and neutralize their talent, the same could happen this weekend. But the Pioneers offense is strong with good upperclassmen. Split.
No. 19 Colorado College (3-1) at No. 7 Cornell (0-0)
Joe: The Tigers have four games that count under their belts compared to none for the Big Red. That and an improved defense should be enough for CC to take home a road split against a good Cornell team and a boisterous crowd for the season and home opener.
Tyler: Starting off with a Colorado College team that’s already played two weeks of games is certainly a tough way to start the season for the Big Red. You have to give CC the advantage in that respect and Cornell is going to have to work hard to get a win this weekend, but Cornell is expected to be a good team that has a good defense coming back. Split.
Wisconsin (0-2) at No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth (2-2)
Joe: The subpar Badgers offense must produce if it hopes to avoid a Bulldogs sweep. It won’t, especially on the road when Duluth can send out lines to slow down Wisconsin forward Mark Zengerle.
Tyler: Wisconsin was outshot and outplayed against Northern Michigan in its only games this season. Not only do the Badgers need to prove they can score, they need to prove they can play a full 60 minutes after losing both games in the third period. UMD, in front of the home crowd, sweeps.
Bemidji State (1-1) at Nebraska-Omaha (2-2)
Joe: UNO is 0-4-2 against Bemidji State at home since Jan. 14, 2011, because of graduated goalie Dan Bakala, as one reader pointed out earlier. You are correct. Andrew Walsh has potential but it is too early to say he is at Bakala’s level yet. That said, UNO’s two wins (Army and Northern Michigan) are not all that impressive. UNO and BSU split the series.
Tyler: To put numbers behind Bakala’s play throughout those games, he never faced fewer than 38 shots more than once and averaged 37.7 saves, but this version of the UNO offense doesn’t have the speed and the punch. Even though the Mavericks haven’t had any signature wins yet and I do think BSU could sneak away with a win, I’m betting on UNO to get a sweep.
Minnesota State (2-0-2) at St. Cloud State (2-2)
Joe: The resurgent Mavericks take on their toughest foe to date and do so on the road. Goalie Phil Cook is playing well so far, so Minnesota State should pull out a road split.
Tyler: The interesting matchup here is MSU’s young, talented group of forwards trying to prove how much they’ve developed fundamentally going into their first WCHA game vs. an SCSU defense that’s supposed to be the strength of the team but was very leaky in an opening series at New Hampshire. This is one the Huskies should sweep, but these teams play each other so tight every time. Split.
Canisius (1-3) at No. 2 Minnesota (3-1, 1-1 WCHA), Sunday
Joe: After a Friday tune-up against the USA U-18 team, Minnesota takes on overmatched Canisius. Gophers should win with freshman goalie Adam Wilcox, who is scheduled to start, and an overwhelming offense. Michael Shibrowski gets the nod Friday night.
Tyler: The Gophers have the advantage in nearly every category going into this matchup and the offense won’t be challenged as it was at Michigan Tech. Minnesota certainly can’t rest on its laurels but a Canisius offense that’s scored just four times in four games isn’t going to make Wilcox work too hard. Minnesota wins.