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WCHA Picks: Can Northern Michigan cool off red-hot Ferris State?

Happy Thanksgiving weekend. The WCHA doesn’t slow down for the holiday, though, as there are four important series taking place in league play (in addition to some non-conference matchups), meaning eight teams trying to make moves. Will we see some separation in the standings? Or will there be more of a logjam? Here are the picks …

Ferris State at Northern Michigan

Shane: The Wildcats have the task of cooling off the hottest team in the county. This is the first big road test for the Bulldogs, who have had the benefit of a favorable early season schedule. As I’ve said before: You can’t control the schedule; just win baby! Bulldogs 4-1, Wildcats 3-2

Matt: Based on winning percentage, these are the two best teams right now in the WCHA, making this really and underrated series in my mind compared to some others we’ve hyped this season. I think this weekend will tell us a lot, like whether or not NMU is really the second best team in the WCHA, or if the Bulldogs are just benefiting from a heavy home slate early on. Wildcats 3-2, Bulldogs 4-2

Bowling Green at Lake Superior

Shane: The Falcons have won just once on the road and are 1-3-1 in their last five games, while the Lakers have slowed down a bit after their red-hot start. These teams have played a lot of close games so far, and that won’t change this weekend. Lakers 3-2, Falcons 2-1

Matt: The Lakers have the better goaltending in Kevin Kapalka while the Falcons have the more potent offense featuring Bryce Williamson and Dan DeSalvo. Each team’s strength wins out at least one night this weekend. Lakers 2-0, Falcons 4-1

Alaska Anchorage at Minnesota State

Shane: Despite their improved play overall, the road hasn’t been kind to the Seawolves so far. The Mavericks have yet to live up to expectations, but there are signs. Getting healthy and getting Zach Lehrke back are huge for Minnesota State. Mavericks 4-3, 3-1

Matt: Lehrke’s return may not just be an offensive boost for the Mavericks physically, but mentally as well. His comeback could be the spark the team needs to start living up to its preseason potential. Mavericks 4-2, 3-1

Michigan Tech at Alaska

Shane: These feel like must-win games for two teams that expect a higher standard than what they’ve shown so far this season. The Nanooks return home where they started the season strong, while the Huskies haven’t left Alaska since arriving for last week’s series against Anchorage. Nanooks 4-2, Huskies 2-1

Matt: The Huskies inability to hold a lead in Anchorage last weekend on Saturday has me doubting this team can win away from Houghton right now. There’s probably another tie in here somewhere, but I’ll play the odds and take an Alaska sweep. Nanooks 2-1, 3-2

Miami at Bemidji State

Shane: Miami is supposed to be one of the country’s elite teams but is 1-4 in its last five games with a three-game losing streak. I’ll bet the RedHawks won’t be happy campers. The Beavers won’t make it easy, but I have a feeling Miami gets back on track this weekend. RedHawks 2-1, 4-2

Matt: Don’t let the RedHawks record fool you. Enrico Blasi has a darn good team at Miami again this season. I’m not sure Northern Michigan misses seeing Miami in Marquette, but I do. It’s a fun team to watch. RedHawks 3-1, 5-2

Alabama Huntsville at Notre Dame tournament (Notre Dame, Western Michigan/Northeastern)

Shane: I think I speak for a lot of observers in that I’d like to see the Chargers get that first win of the season. They’ve had some close losses along the way, so there’s some hope. Not sure it happens this weekend, though. Since I don’t know their second opponent, I’ll say: Two losses for UAH.

Matt: The Chargers may be struggling, but they’re not shying away from tough competition this season. This schedule should pay dividends in years to come for the program’s younger players, even if it doesn’t show in the win column. Two losses for UAH

Last week: Shane 8-1-1; Matt 3-6-1. Overall: Shane 52-26-10, Matt 50-28-10

Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

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