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Jan. 3-4 WCHA picks: Tech, LSSU meet again in the Sault

All 10 WCHA teams are back in action now after the holidays, though not every school is in league play yet.

Michigan Tech is coming off a shootout win and overtime loss in the Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park in Detroit, Bowling Green split at the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh and Alabama-Huntsville was swept at Wisconsin last weekend.

Here’s Shane and my picks for this week. A thanks to Shane for being generous tallying our record from last weekend, giving us credit for Tech’s shootout win and for the Huskies’ loss, though we thought it would come against Michigan, not Western Michigan.

 

Friday-Saturday 

Michigan Tech at Lake Superior

Shane: This is the weekend’s best matchup as the two teams close out the first half of conference play (each has played 12 league games) tied for fifth place. The Huskies are better than their record with a tough schedule, even though they’re technically on a six-game winless streak. The Lakers went into break with one win in their last four. The teams split earlier this season; they’ll do it again. Lakers 3-1, Huskies 2-1

Matt: Great matchup. Horrible weekend to schedule it on. I’ve railed on this before with the first meeting between these two teams scheduled during the opening weekend of deer hunting. Rain may have chased hunters from their deer blinds to MacInnes Student Ice Arena in November — I literally drove to and from Houghton in a thunderstorm for Game 2 — but not even a series with Tech is getting LSSU students to return early from holiday break. Lakers 4-2, Huskies 2-1

 

Bowling Green at Alabama Huntsville

Shane: The Chargers’ lone win of the season came against the Falcons less than a month ago. Can they pull off another? If Bowling Green wants to stay in the race for home ice, it can’t afford another slip. Falcons 5-2, 2-1

Matt: Bowling Green could have really fallen apart after that home loss to Huntsville, but rallied to take three points from Tech in Houghton — the Falcons scored two late goals with an extra attack to get a tie in Game 2 — and then split in Pittsburgh. I like BGSU to keep building. Falcons 3-1, 4-1

 

Northern Michigan at Bemidji State

Shane: Both of these teams enter the weekend on six-game winless streaks. Something’s got to give, right? Well, with all of the overtime games the Beavers have played this season (8), maybe not. When the Wildcats played in Mankato, Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings said his team might have caught them at a good time. While CJ Ludwig isn’t returning, Northern Michigan is getting other bodies back. I’m not going to predict ties here but: Beavers 3-2, Wildcats 3-2

Matt: When Shane says he’s “not going to predict ties here,” he means, “I’m predicting ties, but if I’m wrong, it kill my record.” I concur with that. Beavers 3-1, Wildcats 2-1

 

Minnesota State at Alaska

Shane: The Mavericks begin their long, strange trip to Alaska where they will play both teams there, starting this weekend with the Nanooks. Minnesota State won seven in a row going into the break. Alaska snapped a five-game losing streak and closed out the first half 2-1-0. I think MSU keeps it rolling though. Mavericks 3-2, 4-2

Matt: If Alaska wants to make the WCHA playoffs, it needs to defend its home ice and can’t get swept. At the same time, MSU needs every win it can get to keep pace with Ferris State. Mavericks 4-1, Nanooks 4-3

 

Mariucci Classic

Ferris State vs. RPI on Friday; FSU vs. Minnesota/Colgate winner on Saturday

Shane: The hope here, of course, is that the Bulldogs and host Gophers win in the first round to set up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup on Saturday. That’s also the call, but I’m afraid Ferris’ unbeaten streak ends on Minnesota’s home ice. Bulldogs 3-2, Gophers 4-2

Matt: Ferris should have no problem with RPI on Friday and I want to pick Ferris State to upset the Gophers on Saturday, but Mariucci Arena isn’t as familiar to the Bulldogs as  the last place they faced a top-5 team — Michigan at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor. Bulldogs 4-1, Gophers 3-2

 

Alaska Anchorage at Wisconsin

Shane: The Seawolves’ turnaround this season has been impressive, but they’ve done almost all of their damage at home. The next step is winning on the road. But the Badgers are 9-0-1 in Madison (where they’ve also played 10 of their 16 games) and likely will stay unbeaten. Badgers 5-1, 3-2

Matt: The Badgers have owned the WCHA so far this year, going 5-0-1 so far against Northern Michigan, Lake Superior State and Alabama-Huntsville. UAA is the league’s last hope to beat Bucky, and I don’t like the Seawolves chances. Badgers 4-1, 3-1

Last week: Shane 5-0-1; Matt 5-0-1. Overall records: Shane: 79-32-17; Matt: 72-39-17

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