No. 7 North Dakota (5-3-2) at No. 6 Notre Dame (8-3)
Joe: UND goalie Clarke Saunders has shown he can steal a game even if the Irish barrage him with shots. Notre Dame’s CCHA-leading defense (1.64 goals) should slow down North Dakota’s balanced attack enough to garner one win. Split.
Tyler: The Irish defense is one of the best in the nation but North Dakota is well-balanced, deep and talented. I think Saunders is going to have to be on the top of his game for North Dakota to pull out a win this weekend. Notre Dame is average but they don’t give up many goals either which means Saunders is going to have to match Steven Summerhays. Split
Yale (3-2-1) at No. 2 Denver (9-1), Friday; No. 3 New Hampshire (8-1-1) at No. 2 Denver (9-1), Saturday.
Joe: The Pioneers need to avoid overlooking Yale with New Hampshire’s excellent defense looming on Saturday. They will. DU wins Friday and garners a tie the next night.
Tyler: The UNH/Denver game is the best matchup of the weekend. You have Denver’s potent offense against the Wildcats’ national-best defense (1.20 goals allowed per game). The Pioneers beat a good Yale team but they’ve shown vulnerability, getting shut out at home by St. Cloud State a few weeks back. I’m taking UNH.
No. 3 New Hampshire at No. 14 Colorado College (7-5), Friday; Yale at CC Saturday
Joe: Friday’s matchup is a tough one against a Wildcats squad that is playing well. The Tigers bounce back on Saturday to split on the weekend.
Tyler: This is a UNH team that has seen a lot of good competition this season and will be too much for the Tigers. The CC/Yale game will be a battle. The Tigers showed resilience, coming down from at least two goals in each loss to Denver last weekend but they can’t keep putting themselves in those positions to begin with. CC is a good team and they’ll get it turned around with a win against Yale.
No. 12 St. Cloud State (6-4, 4-2) at Minnesota Duluth (2-6-2, 0-4-2)
Joe: The Bulldogs are playing better and seem pointed in the right direction. They break through at home this weekend against a good SCSU squad boosted by the reported return of Ben Hanowski. Split.
Tyler: SCSU won three games in the five Ben Hanowski missed with an upper-body injury. He was cleared to play Friday’s game and that will boost the Huskies offense against UMD, which has its share of struggles in net. The Bulldogs had an impressive weekend at North Dakota but I’m not ready to say they’ve turned the corner. SCSU sweep
No. 4 Minnesota (7-2-2) at Vermont (2-5-2)
Joe: The Gophers have not been as impressive the preseason hype but it is hard to pick anything but a road sweep against a Catamounts squad that has struggled.
Tyler: There isn’t enough her to tell me Minnesota is going to sweep. On paper, it should. The Gophers should’ve also swept the Catamounts last season when they had a 3-1 lead late in the second period but lost 5-4. Right now, Minnesota is struggling to put a full 60 minutes together which makes it hard to get a sweep. The Gophers will straighten that out in time, they hope that’s this weekend but it’s not my prediction. Split
Alabama-Huntsville (1-10-1) at No. 15 Nebraska Omaha (6-3-1)
Joe: The Mavs upperclassmen remember that loss in Nashville last year and will not overlook the Chargers this time. UNO sweeps at home.
Tyler: Clarke Saunders was reason No. 1 why UAH beat the Mavericks twice the past two seasons, stopping 102-of-104 shots in two games but unfortunately for the Chargers, he’s won’t be a factor for them this time. UNO shouldn’t have lost those games to UAH in the past and they won’t this weekend. UNO sweep.
Minnesota State (3-5-2, 1-5) at Wisconsin (1-5-2, 1-3-2)
Joe: The Mavs may draw a lot of penalties but Wisconsin’s below-average power play (13.6 percent) will not be able to take advantage. MSU garners a road split.
Tyler: The Badgers are winless in five games but those were either against tough opponents or on the road. Wisconsin showed last weekend how competitive it can be without its best player in a great team’s barn against Minnesota. The Badgers come back with two wins and break through offensively against one of the leakiest goalies in the league in MSU’s Phil Cook.
Alaska-Anchorage (2-3-3, 0-2-2) at Bemidji State (2-5-1, 1-4-1)
Joe: The Beavers must be smarting after two home overtime losses to Michigan Tech. The good news is the Huskies are better than UAA. BSU wins Friday and the Seawolves come back on Saturday playing much better to leave northern Minnesota with a road split.
Tyler: BSU is tough to figure out but this is a weekend where we’re going to find out a lot about the Beavers. The Seawolves are a team BSU should take points from at home and if the Beavers don’t come away with three or more this weekend, they’re in trouble. Can BSU take care of business like it did in Omaha a few weeks ago? Sure. I’ll pick a home sweep for BSU, which had chances to win both of those games last week against Michigan Tech.