Minnesota State at Nebraska-Omaha
Joe: Minnesota State is on a roll, but commenters have a very legitimate concern when they point out the six wins in a row are against bottom-tier teams. That means MSU is good (beating the teams they should) but not that good (only 1-5 against top-tier teams Denver, Minnesota and St. Cloud State). UNO is another top team. Split.
Tyler: Stephon Williams has built up the confidence after shutting down lesser opponents over the last three weeks. That confidence is required if he’s going to be the key to MSU’s success this weekend, but I think this is the weekend he comes down to Earth a little bit. UNO has also been rolling since the beginning of November led by an offensive explosion from Ryan Walters. Split.
Denver at Bemidji State
Joe: What many Pioneers fans may have penciled in as two wins remains far less certain with the Denver offense cooling off in recent weeks and taking on a frustrating defensive style that disrupts the flow of the game. It isn’t pretty but it is effective enough to get an outmanned Beavers squad a home win. Split.
Tyler: Denver needs Juho Olkinuora in net this weekend. He’s split weekends with Sam Brittain and Olkinuora has been the better goalie the last three weeks with a .951 save percentage and five goals allowed in that stretch. Yet, the Pioneers went 0-1-2 in Olkinuora’s last three starts but if they get their goaltending some goal support, Denver comes out on top this weekend. DU sweep.
Colorado College at St. Cloud State
Joe: The Tigers have shown some improvement on defense and have an offense (league-best overall 3.61 goals) that can score in bunches. SCSU has split each series since sweeping Minnesota State in late October. There is no clear reason to think that up-and-down trend will not continue for the host Huskies. Split.
Tyler: Inconsistency will knock St. Cloud State right out of the WCHA race if the Huskies don’t get on track soon. SCSU has the offensive talent (freshman Joey Benik is recovered from a broken leg and is expected to make his debut) to light up the Tigers like so many teams have this season. The Huskies still haven’t proven to be consistent and CC can score, too. Split.
North Dakota at Michigan Tech
Joe: The UND offense is starting to fire on all cylinders and takes on the league’s worst overall scoring defense (3.53 goals). North Dakota gets three points because the Huskies are at home.
Tyler: UND’s offense is indeed clicking right now (don’t look only at the final scores. UND is putting up high-volume shots and has faced good goaltending performances) and finally broke through for six goals Saturday. The Huskies are leaky on defense and I don’t give them an advantage at home, where they’re 1-4-1 in WCHA games. UND sweep
Minnesota-Duluth at Alaska-Anchorage
Joe: The visiting Bulldogs are playing better but split each of the past three weekends due to Saturday stumbles. Against a Seawolves squad anxious to finish the first half strong, that means a road split for UMD.
Tyler: Consistency has been a big problem for UMD all season and Alaska-Anchorage has been known to steal points from its visitors this season. The Bulldogs’ power play has been their saving grace, ranked fifth nationally at 25 percent, and they go against UAA’s third-worst penalty kill in the nation (75.4 percent). Still, the inability to put a full weekend together will hurt UMD and I like the Seawolves to win one at home. Split.