Here are our predictions for this weekend:
No. 6 Denver at No. 9 North Dakota
Joe: The key for UND will be reviving its 37th-ranked power play (15.1 percent) against a solid DU penalty kill (86.4 percent overall). They will at home against a DU squad motivated to pick up some of the points lost at home to Wisconsin. Split.
Tyler: In the marquee series of the weekend, Denver comes in winless in four games since Nov. 17 after starting 9-1-0. The best offense in the nation through its last victory, the Pioneers managed just one in three of the last four games. They need Nick Shore – who has just two points in the last four games – to get going again after his torrid start. They might’ve caught UND at the right time, as Clarke Saunders has been up-and-down since his 32-save shutout at St. Cloud State Nov. 9. Split.
No. 14 Nebraska-Omaha at No. 17 St. Cloud State
Joe: The Huskies must bounce back from two poor starts in a row at Alaska Anchorage when they fell behind 3-0 both nights. They cannot afford that against a good Nebraska-Omaha squad that has the nation’s best player from November in league-leader Ryan Walters (20 points) and a good defense anchored by goalie John Faulkner (8-1-1). Split.
Tyler: Here’s a UNO team some had their doubts about because of its schedule weakness going into its series at Minnesota. The Mavericks win Friday was proof they might just be as good as their record indicates. SCSU, meanwhile, has split every weekend since Nov. 2-3 at Denver and allowed six first-period goals at Anchorage. UNO is picking up steam with a red-hot Walters and is going to be hard to slow down. Split.
No. 4 Minnesota at No. 19 Colorado College
Joe: The Tigers defense was better but still gave up 88 shots last weekend against North Dakota. The Gophers certainly have the talent and depth to capitalize on all those chances. CC must get strong goaltending and score first for only the fourth time in 17 games. They will, at least once, at home. Split.
Tyler: CC got a great 44-save goaltending performance from Joe Howe in Friday’s win against UND, and that’s what the Tigers are going to need this weekend. The problem is Howe’s consistency. He allowed six goals two starts in a row when he allowed two goals or less in the previous game. Minnesota can put up big numbers, but the offense has underachieved since early November and 10 of the Gophers’ last 24 goals were on the power play. I think this is a breakthrough weekend for Minnesota against a team that struggles on defense. Gophers sweep
Bemidji State at Minnesota-Duluth
Joe: The Bulldogs are playing well and take on a struggling Beavers squad, which is 1-6-1 since October. UMD flirts with a sweep but ends up with three points.
Tyler: UMD found its offense last week in Houghton and the Beavers have been letting pucks by lately, failing to allow three or less goals in back-to-back games. I’ll take the Bulldogs at home. UMD sweep.
Michigan Tech at Wisconsin
Joe: The visiting Huskies are 2-7-1 over their last 10 games while the Badgers are 0-4 at home. UW will get its first home victory but MTU will get out of there with two points with a split.
Tyler: The Badgers feeling good after taking three points from Denver last weekend because of two outstanding goaltending performances and lockdown defense but their offense worries me. I’m not sold on the Badgers and their defense can’t win every game, even against a Michigan Tech team that stumbles into this series. Split
Alaska-Anchorage at Minnesota State
Joe: Nothing like a new coach to invigorate a program (just ask Michigan Tech fans last season). The high times in Mankato continue with a big home sweep grabbing poll voters’ attention.
Tyler: The Mavericks are rolling right now with Stephon Williams in goal. He hasn’t seen the greatest competition lately (Bemidji State and Wisconsin are the two lowest-scoring offenses in the WCHA), but the Seawolves rank 10th in scoring at 2.42 goals per game and Williams can handle that. MSU sweep