Looking at the WCHA standings, you’d think that this has been an unpredictable start to season. Yet, Matt went 10-1-1 in his picks for the second week in a row last week! Looks predictable to me. My 8-3-1 mark wasn’t bad, but Matt’s starting to pull a way a bit.
Bowling Green at Ferris State
Shane: This is the WCHA’s big matchup of the week with the first- and second-place teams going against each other. Tough break for the Falcons’ Ryan Carpenter, who looked ready to return from one injury and now has another. But they’ve survived so far without him. I sure was impressed with them last week. Ferris State has won five straight, grinding out a pair of wins against Bemidji State last weekend. I say one more win, then the streak ends. Bulldogs 3-2, Falcons 4-3
Matt: In the CCHA, this used to be a series you easily overlooked during the regular season with the Bulldogs near the top of the league in its final years while BGSU was at the bottom. Now with both contending for a league-title in the WCHA, it’s a must watch. These two schools played an epic CCHA second-round playoff series in 2011-12 where the last-place Falcons won both games in the best-of-three series in overtime to upset the No. 1-seeded Bulldogs. I expect this weekend to be just as tight and intense. Bulldogs 5-4, Falcons 4-3.
Lake Superior at Michigan Tech
Shane: I liked how the Lakers bounced back from that tough weekend at Wisconsin. Now, one of the nation’s most surprising teams is making Tech’s brutal schedule look even tougher. The Huskies have won all three of their home games, but I think Lake State steals one. Lakers 3-2, Huskies 4-1
Matt: There’s something about John MacInnes Student Ice Arena that makes it such a tough place to play, as Northern Michigan and Michigan State have learned thus far, and I’m not talking about the travel. The boards have a bit of an extra bounce to them not seen elsewhere, and the Huskies have really been strong at home as well thanks in part to solid crowds. A Tech sweep wouldn’t surprise me, and neither would a Lakers sweep in the Sault come January. For now, I’ll chicken out and call a split. Huskies 3-1, Lakers 4-2.
Alaska Anchorage at Bemidji State
Shane: These are two teams that have shown great improvement from last year but now have to figure out if they can sustain it. Both likely are looking at this series as a chance to get points and keep the standings crowded, and I think that’s what happens. Beavers 5-1, Seawolves 2-1
Matt: Neither of these teams look like squads who were picked in the preseason to battle for the eighth and final playoff spot, especially the Beavers. In Alaska, I like the Seawolves to split, but in Bemidji, I think this weekend BSU is able to put some distance between itself and UAA, while also staying in the hunt for first in the WCHA. Beavers 3-1, 2-1.
St. Cloud State at Alabama Huntsville
Shane: After a season in which they played just one Division I opponent at home, the Chargers’ fans have to love this year’s schedule already. The winless Chargers on the other hand, well, would probably like more of a nonconference cupcake right now than the 6-1-1 Huskies. Huskies 4-0, 6-1
Matt: The Chargers have gone all out when it comes to scheduling tough opponents this year and there isn’t a cupcake to be found among its nonconference games against Hockey East, the NCHC and Big Ten. This probably means the Chargers will have to find their first win in WCHA play. Huskies 5-0, 6-2.
Minnesota State at Minnesota
Shane: Something still isn’t quite right with the Mavericks, and adding insult to a rash of injuries is a nonconference series against the No. 1 Gophers. Everything about this series says a Minnesota sweep, except that Minnesota State has played well in this series of late. I think the Mavs keep things close and steal one on Saturday. Gophers 4-2, Mavericks 3-2
Matt: The Mavericks seem to need a nonconference weekend to get its house in order, but it will be tough to tinker and experiment against a rival like the Gophers, who also happen to be the No. 1 team in the country. If this was in Mankato, I’d like the Mavs to steal a win. Since it’s in Minneapolis, I think the Gophers defend their home ice. Gophers 3-0, 2-1.