After three weekends of nonconference play in the WCHA, the 2013-14 conference slate begins for Alabama-Huntsville, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan.
Alaska hosts one more nonconference series while Bowling Green plays Tuesday night.
Alaska-Anchorage, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Minnesota State are all off this weekend, though the Lakers have a Tuesday home exhibition against Laurentian.
Here are the picks.
Bemidji State at Alabama-Huntsville
Matt: I was unaware how heated this rivalry was until the unofficial UAHHockey.com Twitter account (@UAHHockey) started chirping back and forth with the official Bemdji State University Twitter account (@bemidjistate). This will be fun. Chargers 3-2, Beavers 2-1.
Shane: I really thought Bemiidji State and Minnesota State would be a big rivalry because of their long history and the fact that they continued to play nonconference games after going D1. But these were the best teams in the CHA for several years and that fact remains fresh in the teams’ and fans’ minds. I agree it will be fun, and I agree on a split. Chargers 2-1, Beavers 3-1
Michigan Tech vs. Northern Michigan (home and home)
Matt: The Wildcats host the Huskies on Friday in Marquette before the two sides play again 24 hours later in Houghton. This has been a tame series in recent years, partially because Tech has been in rebuilding mode. The Huskies’ 8-2 butt kicking of the ‘Cats last year may have lit a spark in the NMU locker room. Now we’ll see if a four-game series ignites it further. Wildcats 4-3, Huskies 4-2.
Shane: Good for the WCHA to schedule a pair of rivalry series to kick off the conference schedule. It will be interesting to see how this one develops now that these teams are back in the same league for the first time since 1997. They’ll split, but I think each wins at the other’s barn. Huskies 5-2, Wildcats 3-2
Mercyhurt at Alaska
Matt: With wins over Denver and Air Force, plus a tie with Western Michigan, the Nanooks are off to a solid start at 2-1-1. Mercyhurt is 1-4-0 to start the year and the last time the Lakers were in Fairbanks two years ago, they got hammered by both the Nanooks and Seawolves. Nanooks 5-1, 3-1.
Shane: These are the final nonconference games for the Nanooks, who are also at home. Mercyhurst might be road weary after playing in a tournament at Minnesota, then home against Ferris State then at Merrimack. Now a trip to Fairbanks? Their frequent-flyer miles will be rewarded with a pair of losses. Nanooks 3-2, 6-2
Bowling Green at Ohio State
Matt: It’s Part II of what was an exciting Tuesday night game a week ago, with BGSU scoring four unanswered goals in the second and third periods to rally for a 4-3 win over the Buckeyes in Bowling Green. Now the series shifts to Columbus, where the 0-3 Buckeyes have been stewing since. I like a confident Falcons team. BGSU 3-1
Shane: Ohio State plays a home-and-home with Robert Morris this weekend, so it will be interesting to see how it comes out of that series. But I still think the Buckeyes are a mess, while the Falcons are showing off their depth without Ryan Carpenter. Falcons 4-3
Last week: Shane, 11-5-2; Matt 8-8-2. Overall: Shane 21-12-5; Matt, 18-15-5.