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11/1/13 WCHA Picks: League play heats up

All right, Matt, it’s for real now. The WCHA schedule began last week with two league series. This weekend there are four conference matchups and a couple of intriguing nonconference series, but I see more sweeps than splits.

 

Alaska Anchorage at Bowling Green

Shane: The Seawolves and their new attitude under coach Matt Thomas go out of state for the first time this season. UAA has won just four games outside of Alaska the last two seasons, including one last year. Bowing Green is coming off a Tuesday game at Ohio State, and I’m curious about how much time that gives them to prepare for Friday. Seawolves 3-2, Falcons 4-1

Matt: The Falcons have really impressed me the past few weeks while Ryan Carpenter is on the shelf. Bryce Williamson and Ben Murphy have really stepped up, as has Dan DeSalvo. I like BGSU to defend its home ice. Falcons 2-1, 4-2

 

Ferris State at Alabama Huntsville

Shane: I picked the Bulldogs to finish second in the conference, and, since we’re barely past Halloween, I’m going to stand by my prediction that they’re pretty good. The Chargers showed last weekend that they still have quite a ways to go as they build from those tough independent years. Bulldogs 5-1, 2-1

Matt: I thought the Chargers could pull off a win last weekend in their season opener at home against a big rival in Bemidji State. They didn’t, leaving me little confidence they can steal a win from Ferris State. Bulldogs 2-1, 3-0

 

Minnesota State at Bemidji State

Shane: The Mavericks have won 10 of the last 12 meetings with their old/new rivals, the Beavers, and while I think Bemidji State at home won’t make it very easy on MSU, I think Minnesota State sweeps. Too much depth up front for the defensive-minded Beavers to stop. Mavericks 3-1, 5-2

Matt: The Beavers showed last weekend in Huntsville they’re a step above the bottom rung of the WCHA, but I’m not sure they’re at the Maverick’s level. I still expect them to give MSU a run for its money. I see this series as being much closer. Mavericks 3-2, 4-2

 

Northern Michigan at Alaska

Shane: The Wildcats haven’t won on the road yet this season, and they’re going to a place where they’ve won just once in their last six tries. The Nanooks might be comfortable, too, not having left the state yet. Both teams are giving up a few goals, but Alaska is scoring more than a goal per game more. I think there might be a tie in here, but the Nanooks are getting at least three points. Nanooks 3-2, 4-3

Matt: Alaska may score more than a goal per game, but its also taking 22.5 penalty minutes per game and the Nanooks’ penalty kill is ninth in the league, killing 80.6 percent. Meanwhile, NMU’s power play ranks third, converting 19.5 percent of the time. That’s a recipe for NMU to steal a win in Fairbanks — a trip NMU has made three of the last four years. Nanooks 4-1, Wildcats 3-1

 

Michigan Tech at Michigan

Shane: The Huskies’ brutal early season schedule continues. Holy buckets. They have just one win but have played everybody tough. Michigan looks like it’s back to form, but I think Mel Pearson steals one from his old boss, Red Berenson, just as he did a year ago. Huskies 2-1, Wolverines 5-2

Matt: Kudos to the Huskies for stacking their schedule and not shying away from tough competition. Too bad all these games are on the road where Tech has yet to win. Tech was stellar at home Saturday against NMU, but dreadful Friday in Marquette. The only exception to this is Pheonix Copley, who was great both place. He’ll keep the series close. Wolverines 2-1, 3-2

 

Lake Superior State at Wisconsin

Shane: This is suddenly a huge test for the undefeated Lakers. Who would have imagined less than a month ago that this series would pit No. 12 (Lake Superior) against No. 13 (Wisconsin)? The Lakers have the goaltending, but the Badgers are going to be an angry bunch at home after that lost weekend in Boston two weeks ago. Badgers 4-1, 5-2

Matt: You’re right Shane, this is a huge test for the Lakers, as long as the Wisconsin team that opened the season shows up, and not the one that got routed in Boston. I guess we’ll found out whether last weekend was a fluke, or the sweep of NMU was the fluke. I’m thinking Boston was the fluke. Badgers 4-1, 3-1

Last week: Matt 4-2-1, Shane 2-4-1. Overall: Shane 23-16-6, Matt 22-17-6.

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