The league is courting Arizona State, and the commissioner says he’d like the league to get to 12 teams.
1. Important wins
Two WCHA teams scored important wins on Saturday night — but for different reasons. Minnesota State pulled off an improbable comeback against Minnesota for its first nonconference win of the season. The Mavericks won in the final minute of overtime on a Teddy Blueger goal after scoring twice in the final 3 ½ minutes of regulation to tie the game. If the Mavericks, who are 5-1-0 in league play, want to be a factor when it comes to postseason play, nonconference wins are crucial. Meanwhile Bemidji State won its first conference game of the season, defeating Alaska 6-3 to snap a seven-game winless streak. “We needed this win tonight,” Beavers coach Tom Serratore said. “We said it after the game, this was a must-win.”
2. Marquee matchup
The only two ranked teams in the conference squared off in Houghton over the weekend, and it appeared to be a good one with host Michigan Tech and visiting Bowling Green splitting the series. On Friday, Jamie Phillips got the 22-save shutout for the Huskies, who won 2-0 against another tough goalie, Chris Nell, who stopped 39 of 41 shots. Matt Roy got the winner with 3:16 to play in the third period. On Saturday, the Falcons turned the tables, winning 3-2 despite getting outshot 32-25. Tommy Burke got the win in goal, and Mark Cooper scored the game winner early in the third. It was the first time Bowling Green scored more than two goals in seven games.
3. Solid Seawolves
On Friday night, Ferris State won its eighth straight game against Alaska Anchorage, winning 3-2 in overtime on Kyle Schempp’s goal. That’s a good win for the Bulldogs because, the next night, the Seawolves proved their hot start to the season was no fluke and snapped their losing streak against Ferris State in impressive fashion. Matt Anholt and Tad Kozun each scored a pair of goals, and goalie Olivier Mantha earned his second career shutout, stopping 25 shots in a 5-0 victory. At 6-3-1 overall, Anchorage has the second-best winning percentage in the league (.650).
As we get to the “it’s early, but not too early” portion of college hockey’s schedule, the WCHA, as predicted, seems to have three teams separating themselves from the pack. Minnesota State and Michigan Tech are currently tied for first in the league. Bowling Green is the highest-ranked team in the league (15th) but is in seventh in the league standings. (That’s mostly because the Falcons have played just four league games.)
The rest of the league is shaping up to be, again, a somewhat unpredictable dogfight. For example, did anyone think Alabama Huntsville would have one of the top scoring offenses in the league through the first month of the season? Or that Bemidji State would have the most trouble putting the puck into the net (they’ve scored a league-low 14 goals in seven games)?
Anyway, it looks like another fun slate of games this week. Shane is three ahead of me in our pick ‘em race — mostly because he picked all six winners last weekend — so hopefully I can catch up this week.
Enjoy the games!
Bowling Green at Michigan Tech
Shane: The WCHA’s two ranked teams square off in Houghton in what should be a marquee matchup in college hockey between two of the three favorites to win the league (Minnesota State being the other). Both teams are off to decent starts but would like to be doing better. I’d call a split, but I’m worried about the Falcons’ offense with just eight goals in their last 10 games. Huskies 3-1, 4-2
Jack: I think these should both be close games, Shane, and I am also worried about BGSU’s offense. But I think the Falcons deserve to be in the conversation as one of the top teams in the league and the country and will find a way to rise to the occasion and earn a split. Falcons 4-2, Huskies 3-1
Alaska at Bemidji State
Shane: The Beavers had a good start at home this year with a win over Minnesota Duluth and a tie with North Dakota. Then they played Minnesota State tough, only to get swept. After a one-goal weekend and a week off, they’re back home to face a Nanooks team starting a long road trip. I expect this to be a physical, low-scoring series with each team earning a tough two points. Beavers 2-1, Nanooks 2-1
Jack: The Beavers six-game winless streak reminds me a lot of their eight-game winless streak last season. They went 2-8 during the month of November 2014, with their only wins being on Nov. 1 and Nov. 29 — literally bookending an eight game losing streak. They played very well in all eight of those losses, however, and that’s been the case this time around for BSU. Solid play, but scoring has been somewhat difficult. The Nanooks have been okay this season, but haven’t won away from Fairbanks. Something is going to give (although two ties wouldn’t surprise me the way they have). I think a split is likely. Nanooks 3-2, Beavers 3-2
Ferris State at Alaska Anchorage
Shane: Ferris State is coming off a split against Minnesota State in which it finally beat the Mavericks in WCHA play. The Bulldogs will now try to protect a similar streak against an improved and offensive-minded Seawolves team, against which it has won seven straight over the last two seasons. I think Anchorage ends it but Ferris gets two points. Seawolves 4-2, Bulldogs 4-3
Jack: Some of these streaks give you a great idea of how short of a time it’s been since the old CCHA and old WCHA combined to form the current iteration of the league — and how new some of these rivalries are. The only time the Seawolves beat the Bulldogs was wayy back in 1986 in a tournament in Anchorage. The teams met once more in the 1980s before resuming the series when Ferris joined the WCHA in 2013. UAA hasn’t won anything since then, but they look like they could be a sleeper pick this year. I think they get all four points and finally beat the Bulldogs. Seawolves 4-3, 2-1
Arizona State at Lake Superior State
Shane: The Lakers will step out of conference play and show college hockey’s newest team one of the sport’s storied outposts. Yes, Sun Devils, Lake State won three national titles. This year’s team has been up and down early, perhaps on the cusp of making a little run. If it does, it starts this weekend. Lakers 4-2, 4-1
Jack: I’m sure the Sun Devils fanbase will need to get used to following their team to places like Sault Ste Marie, Bemidji and Grand Forks. It’s a little different than following them to Tucson, Los Angeles and Boulder like they do for other sports, huh guys? (Arizona State’s SID and I had a jovial Twitter back-and-forth about that a few weeks ago, and they seem to be enjoying discovering new places). Anyway, The Sun Devils have defeated just one Division I team in Alaska, and that now seems like a bit of a fluke when you see ASU’s other scores. The Lakers seem to be playing better and I think they earn the sweep. Lakers 3-2, 3-1
Minnesota at/vs. Minnesota State
Shane: It’s a home-and-home series between the Mavericks and the Gophers, two teams that, if you look closely have had somewhat parallel starts to the season. Lost a lot in the offseason. Started slowly. Lost games. Got shut out a few times. Started to turn the corner. If they truly mirror each other that much, then they’ll split. Home teams win. Mavericks 4-3, Gophers 3-2
Jack: I don’t know about you, Shane, but I’m still much higher on the Mavericks this season than I am on the Gophers. None of Minnesota’s wins have been super-impressive, but the Mavericks have some nice wins against some teams that should be in the top half of their league. I think a split is very likely but I also think if either team can sweep, it’s MSU. Mavericks 5-3, 3-2
Last week: Shane 6-0-2, Jack 3-3-2. Overall: Shane 32-18-10, Jack 29-21-10
1. Ferris finally beats Minnesota State
C.J. Motte won 66 games in his outstanding Ferris State career. Unfortunately for him, it took until after he graduated for the Bulldogs to beat Minnesota State. On Friday night in Big Rapids, Mich., the Bulldogs beat the Mavericks in a convincing 7-4 victory. Freshman netminder Darren Smith made 34 saves for the Bulldogs in a wild game that saw Ferris score four goals in the third period after leading 3-2 after two. It was the first win for Ferris State over MSU since the Bulldogs joined the WCHA in 2013-14. Before this weekend, the schools had met eight times since FSU joined. All eight were MSU victories. Minnesota State rallied back on Saturday with a 3-2 win to earn the split, but the Bulldogs have been nothing if not consistent this season — all three of their conference series have been splits. They also haven’t left the state of Michigan yet this season. This weekend’s series against a much-improved Alaska Anchorage in Anchorage will tell us much more about this team, I think.
2. Two points the hard way
A pair of 1-1 overtime ties gave Bowling Green and Lake Superior State an unconventional series split. Although both earn the two points, it’s probably a better tie for the Lakers than it is for the Falcons, who came into the season with high expectations but haven’t been outstanding offensively (their defense, though, is best in the WCHA — just 17 goals allowed in nine games). Meanwhile, the Lakers snapped a three-game losing streak and earned their first two conference points.
3. Morley’s milestone
Alaska senior center Tyler Morley scored the first two goals in his team’s 5-2 win over Northern Michigan on Friday night. Those two were all he needed to reach 100 career points. Morley became the latest WCHA player to reach the century mark, and the first to do so this season. The only other active player to have 100 or more career points is Michiagn Tech’s Alex Petan, who reached the mark as a junior last season. Morley would add another assist in Friday’s win and had a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 5-2 loss. He’s currently tied with Ferris State’s Gerald Mayhew with 11 points for the WCHA’s scoring lead.
Shane here …
It’s the first weekend of November, and Jack and I are all square on our picks. I’d say great minds think alike, but you have to have some luck, too. For example, we both picked a split between Bowling Green and Alaska Anchorage last week but different winners on different days. Two losses for Shane; two wins for Jack. So it goes.
On to this weekend’s picks:
Minnesota State at Ferris State
Shane: Remember how this was going to be college hockey’s next great rivalry in the “new” WCHA? These two teams have played some exciting games, but the Mavericks have won them all, eight straight since the two became league foes. I think the Bulldogs will snap that streak this weekend, but the Mavericks will come home with points. Bulldogs 3-2, Mavericks 4-2
Jack: It’s still crazy to me that Ferris State has never beaten MSU — even CJ Motte couldn’t help them steal a win! So of course the Bulldogs would wait until after he leaves to win one. I agree with you that it happens this weekend. Bulldogs 4-2, Mavericks 5-3
Lake Superior State at Bowling Green
Shane: The Falcons survived a tough early schedule, playing six of their first seven games on the road and going 4-2-1. They’re home for a full weekend now and host a Lakers team that has shown some inconsistencies. Their two wins have been good, but their two losses at home to Huntsville last week were surprising. Falcons 4-1, 5-1
Jack: If the Lakers are going to struggle at home against Huntsville (who is obviously a much0improved team this year… but still), it’s hard to envision them winning one against Bowling Green this season. That said, Lake State has been aboe to put the puck in the net so I’m seeing two high-scoring affairs. Falcons 4-3, 5-4
Michigan Tech at Alabama Huntsville
Shane: The Huskies leave their home state for the first time after starting the season 3-3-0, all in conference play. Tech was really good away from Houghton last season, but the Chargers are riding high, too, after their sweep at Lake State. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a tie in here, but I’m going to call a close Tech sweep .Huskies 3-2, 4-2
Jack: I’m feeling pretty good about this Huntsville team, Shane. Yes, Tech is 8-0-0 against them all time but six of those were last year. And I don’t think the Huskies are quite the same dominant team this year as they were last year. I can see a split. Chargers 4-2, Huskies 3-2
Northern Michigan at Alaska
Shane: The Nanooks return home after dropping their first two conference games at Minnesota State and, while the Wildcats are leaving the Upper Peninsula first the first time since a season-opening series a Wisconsin. This feels like a split. Nanooks 3-2, Wildcats 2-1
Jack: I agree this feels like a split. The Wildcats had a scoreless tie before beating Bemidji State last week. The Nanooks were swept in Mankato. Still not sure what to make of either of these teams, so I’ll go with two points apiece. I wouldn’t be surprised by two ties. Wildcats 3-1, Nanooks 4-2
Last week: Shane 5-4-1, Jack 6-3-1. Overall: Shane 26-18-8, Jack 26-18-8
Three things we thought we learned about the WCHA the weekend …
1. Bottom’s up
Yes, I know it’s early, but it surprising to look at the WCHA standings and see Alabama Huntsville and Alaska Anchorage sitting in a tie for third place right now. Huntsville won twice at Lake Superior State — in overtime on Friday and by shutout on Saturday. The sweep was the first on the road for the Chargers since Oct. 16-17, 2009 at Air Force. Anchorage, meanwhile, was shut out on Sunday against a good Bowling Green team – but not before extending an unbeaten streak to five games, its longest since late in the 2011 season. A little early season confidence could be a good thing for these teams.
2. One unbeaten
Minnesota State swept Alaska to go to 4-0-0 in conference play (after an 0-4-0 start in out-of-league play) and is the only WCHA team that doesn’t have a conference loss. Interestingly, the Mavericks swept the two teams that gave them the most fits as season ago, Bemidji State and Alaska, who, combined, went 4-4-1 against MSU last year. The Mavericks looked like last year’s team on Friday, scoring five goals and limiting the Nanooks to just 15 shots on goal. The grinded out a 2-1 win on Saturday.
3. Done with each other
In a quirk of the schedule, Michigan Tech and Ferris State are done playing each other for the season, as they played twice in three weeks. It’s too bad, too, as they split the two series, with three of the games — both this past weekend — being one-goal games. The Huskies won on Malcom Gould’s overtime goal on Friday and the Bulldogs rebounded thanks to goalie Darren Smith’s 36 save performance and Andrew Dorantes’ late-third-period game-winner.
Shane here …
Finally, Jack, we have a weekend in which all the WCHA teams are playing each other. It’s weekends like this that, I think, help the conference, as you have teams and fans all paying attention to what’s happening. It sure has been an interesting start to the season, and picking ain’t easy. My pick of a rare out-of-Alaska win for Anchorage and guessing the right side of a Lake Superior State split at Michigan State moved me a game ahead of you in the overall. Woo-hoo! Let’s see how this week goes.
JACK: I’m still not sure what to make of most of these teams, Shane. It feels like every single one of our our picks so far could have gone either way. That’s how unpredictable it’s been to this point — there’s no one dominant team in the league and I feel like the bottom half of the league is almost as competitive as the top half (at least, so far). This weekend it’s Halloween so I’m sure there will be even more weird results.
Alabama Huntsville at Lake Superior State
SHANE: The Lakers have split the last two weekends and should be feeling good about themselves at home this weekend. The Chargers, meanwhile, are going on the road for the first time this season after getting one point at home against Anchorage. Sometimes those early road trips can be good for teams. Lakers 2-1, Chargers 1-0
JACK: The Lakers have definitely impressed me so far this season. They definitely look like a better team than the one that started last season with eight losses. The Chargers have just played four games and I’m not sure what to make of them. I think a split is likely. Lakers 3-1, Chargers 2-1
Ferris State at Michigan Tech
SHANE: Wait, didn’t these two teams just play each other? They did. Two weeks ago in Big Rapids where they split. I thought the Huskies might get off to a little bit better start, but it’s been a tough schedule to start with three of four WCHA games on the road. I think they get it done at home in a couple of close games. A tie wouldn’t shock me. Huskies 3-2, 4-3
JACK: Shane and I usually agree on things but pick differently for competitions sake. This time, I see no good reason to pick against a Huskies sweep. The Bulldogs are decent and I also think the games will be close, but Jamie Phillips gets it done in the net. Huskies 2-1, 4-2
Bemidji State at Northern Michigan
SHANE: The Beavers will be motivated after dropping a pair of close games to Minnesota State last weekend. But hidden inside the Wildcats’ 2-2-2 record is how dominant they were in their home games, scoring 10 goals in two games and outshooting Tech 46-21 in a 4-1 win on Saturday. Wildcats 4-2, 4-1
JACK: Here’s where I’ll disagree (and label me a homer if you must). Both NMU and BSU have sold power play units (the Beavers are No. 6 in the country on the man advantage and have 7 PP goals). The Wildcats are also solid (6-of-23). I think this series will come down to which team stays out of the box with a split likely. Wildcats 4-1, Beavers 5-2
Alaska at Minnesota State
SHANE: The Mavericks got back on track last weekend with their two wins in Bemidji and now are back home to face another team that has given them fits recently. The Nanooks were the only WCHA team to have a winning record against MSU last season, going 2-1-1. I think Colton Parayko was a big, big reason for that, and he’s not there anymore. Mavericks 3-1, 4-2
JACK: MSU looked solid in Bemidji and won because of strong special teams play — they netted two shorthanded goals and two on the power play. The Nanooks haven’t left Alaska yet so I’m not sure how they’ll far this weekend. I’ll call for an MSU sweep because of that unknown. Mavericks 4-1, 4-2
Bowling Green at Alaska Anchorage
SHANE: This is a Saturday-Sunday series, giving each of these teams a little more travel time (at least on the front end of the weekend). The Falcons are coming off an idle weekend, too, so they should be well-rested. It might be a tad early to say that the Seawolves are the surprise team of the league, but they’re off to a good start. That just might continue. Falcons 3-2, Seawolves 3-2
JACK: Was last season’s disappointing season an aberration for Anchorage? After all, they made it to the Final Five in 2013-14. Their 4-1-1 start is promising, but they haven’t exactly been facing a murderer’s row. Their results this weekend against a very good Bowling Green team should tell us a lot. Seawolves 4-3, Falcons 3-2
Last week: Shane 6-2-2, Jack 3-5-2. Overall: Shane 21-14-7, Jack 20-15-7
Pair of streaks snapped for Minnesota State
Defending McNaughton Cup and Broadmoor Trophy champion (and predicted repeat winner) Minnesota State found itself in an odd spot coming into this weekend: A four-game losing streak to start the weekend, coupled with a three-game scoring drought (which came against two top-ranked teams in Omaha and St. Cloud, but distressing nonetheless). The Mavericks traveled to instate rivals Bemidji State this week — typically a team that has given them fits while on their home ice — and ended both streaks in emphatic fashion. MSU beat BSU 3-2 in both games to earn the hard-fought sweep. The Mavericks scored two shorthanded goals on Friday and two power play goals on Saturday.
Four different players scored for the Mavericks, who at the very least seem to be back on the right track after their weird start. Now, the question is if they can sustain it: The Mavs host Alaska, travel to a new league rival in Ferris State and then have a home-and-home against Minnesota for their next three weekends.
Beavers get a wakeup call
Conversely, Bemidji State finds itself with more questions after falling twice against the Mavericks in a pair of winnable games. The Beavers have a strong (like, top-10 quality) power play — with seven goals in 21 chances so far. And they scored three of their four goals on the man advantage in this most recent series. And sophomore winger Gerry Fitzgerald’s team-high sixth goal of the season (he’s scored in all five games) is tied for second in the country right now.
The problem? BSU gave up two shorthanded goals to the Mavericks and couldn’t get one 5-on-5 aside from the first goal on Friday. The Beavers lost a 2-1 third-period lead in game one and were tied going into the final frame in game two (they were also tied with North Dakota going into the third last weekend in Grand Forks). The Beavers have talent, as their early season results have shown, but they need to find ways to win more of these one-goal games if they’re going to have success.
It’s splitsville for three Upper Peninsula rivals
Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State have spent much of the early season playing one anther. Tech and Northern split their home-and-home series this past weekend (with each winning on their own home ice). The Wildcats and Lakers did the same two weeks ago, with NMU winning in Marquette and Lake State winning in Sault Ste. Marie (that one was a nonconference series). The only teams which haven’t met yet are the Lakers and the Huskies (they play for the first time in December). All three teams have two wins. It will be interesting to see if all three can continue their strong play against teams outside the UP.
We had to hurry to get our picks in, since Lake Superior State and Michigan State play tonight (Thursday), while everyone else is on the normal, Friday-Saturday schedule, including a couple more WCHA series (Jack and I actually will be in the same building this weekend!). Jack had a pretty good week last week, and I hope to catch up again this time around …
Lake Superior State at Michigan State
JACK: Another old CCHA rivalry returns. This would have been a good series 10 years ago (OK, maybe closer to 20) … how times have changed. These teams just met during the Icebreaker tournament, so they’ll be pretty familiar with one another. Sparty won 4-1, but Lake Superior State hasn’t played terribly. I think they might be able to steal one in East Lansing. Spartans 3-1, Lakers 2-1
SHANE: I agree, Jack, that Lake Superior State appears to be improved. That was a nice win for them Saturday against Northern Michigan, and I’m sure the Lakers wish that game had counted for WCHA points. That 4-1 loss in the Icebreaker was pretty even shots-wise, so a split is not out of the question. Lakers 2-1, Spartans 4-1
Minnesota State at Bemidji State
JACK: Minnesota State is the only winless team in the WCHA right now and has scored just two goals in four games. The Beavers seem to be trending the other way, with impressive results against Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota. I don’t think Mankato is going to be winless for very long, and I think they’re going to end their scoreless streak this weekend. Beavers 3-1, Mavericks 2-1
SHANE: These two teams have played tough schedules so far, a combined four of the current top 10 teams in the country, and they should be ready for the start of the conference season. Bemidji has been no easy place to play for the Mavericks, who have split every series they’ve played since the Sanford Center opened. That will stay the same. Mavericks 3-2, Beavers 2-1
Michigan Tech at/vs. Northern Michigan
JACK: The Upper Peninsula round robin home and home continues. Tech has played just two games and split with Ferris State on the road, while Northern is 1-1-2 but has been the victim of some suspect defense. I’m going to call a Tech sweep because I’m still not sure if NMU can hold leads. Huskies 4-2, 3-0
SHANE: To be quite honest, I thought this might be a matchup of two undefeated teams, but that just goes to show what I know. While I’m not surprised that Tech split at Ferris State last week, I am a bit stunned by NMU’s record. It’s still too early to know what is real and what is a mirage. I’m going with the Huskies. Huskies 2-1, 4-2
Alaska Anchorage at Alabama Huntsville
JACK: Still not sure what to make of either of these teams. I tend to think the Chargers are a much-improved team this year, but they’ve played just one series. The Seawolves are also 3-1 but against relatively weaker competition. I think this is a sweep, but I have no idea. Chargers 4-2, 2-1
SHANE: Alaska Anchorage is off to a decent start, winning three of four games and is scoring goals. The Seawolves now leave the state of Alaska where they need to learn to win games. Huntsville, I suspect, is improved, too, and I’m going to call a split Chargers 3-2, Seawolves 3-1
Wisconsin at Ferris State
JACK: The second of two WCHA/B1G matchups this week. Wisconsin isn’t very good. I don’t know what Ferris is, but the Badgers are making their first-ever trip to Big Rapids. Ewigleben Arena may be an even more difficult place to play than normal this weekend. I think Ferris can sweep. Bulldogs 4-2, 5-3
SHANE: This will be the Badgers’ first trip to Big Rapids, no easy place to play for any opponent. I’m guessing that band box will be rocking. The Bulldogs’ got a good WCHA season-opening split at home last week against Michigan Tech, and those good feelings will continue. Bulldogs 3-1, 3-2
Last week: Shane 6-6-2, Jack 9-3-2. Overall: Shane 15-12-5, Jack 17-10-5
We’re two weeks into the WCHA season and every team in the league has sustained at least one loss.
Last season, this was not the case. Michigan Tech won its first 10 games. Both Alaska schools went unbeaten in the two tournaments up there. And Northern Michigan stayed undefeated in its first six tournaments.
This season, that ship has sailed early. All 10 teams have at least one loss — some worse than others. That being said, a few teams are better set up after their opening weekends in nonconference play. Is this too small a sample size this early? We’ll see. Let’s examine.
1. Minnesota State can’t score
Preseason conference favorite and defending MacNaughton and Final Five champion Minnesota State has struggled most out of any team. Sure, the Mavericks have played two top-tier NCHC schools — Omaha and St. Cloud — but the way they have lost, with two goals in four games and three straight shutouts — has been most shocking. They’re the only team in the league without a victory. And it could stay that way — the Mavs’ next two opponents are Bemidji State and Alaska. Speaking of which…
2. Beavers, Falcons playing strong
So far, the team with the most impressive result (that is, the team that has performed the best against the stiffest non-conference opponent) has been Bemidji State. The Beavers are 1-1-1 with a win over No. 7 Minnesota Duluth and a tie and a loss to No. 1 North Dakota (BSU and UND were tied 2-2 with 10 minutes left in the game but ended up losing 5-2 following a questionable 5-minute major penalty). The Falcons are 3-1-1 with their lone loss coming on a weird Tuesday game against Western Michigan. At the very least, BSU and BG have the best track record out of the conference, which overall has been much weaker for the WCHA compared to a season ago.
3. Tech in position, maybe?
Michigan Tech and Ferris State split the first conference series of the season, with Tech winning the opener in Big Rapids 5-1 before the Bulldogs took game two 3-2. It’s still pretty hard to judge anything so early — especially since the Huskies are starting a week behind everybody else. They played a pair of exhibitions two weeks ago when most of the college hockey world was starting up, so it’s probably not too shocking that they are still finding their legs. But if Minnesota State is going to continue to struggle and the Huskies want to make a statement and pull ahead in the conference after finishing second (by a point) last season, they need to find a way to get as many points as they can in the first month (or so) of the season. Tech plays rivals Northern Michigan next weekend then hosts Ferris for the return trip before traveling to Huntsville.
Shane here …
It was a wild first week in all of college hockey. There were results that made you question your rankings and picks. Instead of tossing everything I studied in the preseason out the window, I’m going to give my gut at least another week. Can’t speak for Jack, who sent his picks in first. Here goes …
Michigan Tech at Ferris State
JACK: The first WCHA series of the season is also Tech’s first regular-season action all year. The Huskies have almost everyone back while the Bulldogs have some question marks. Charles Williams was decent in goal last weekend but I don’t know if he can single-handedly shut down Michigan Tech. Huskies 4-1, 3-1
SHANE: I’m leaning in your direction, Jack, but can’t quite pick a Huskies sweep. Maybe if it were the middle of the season or a few weeks in. The Bulldogs have played games that count, while the Huskies have not. The home team might be in better shape speed-wise. Bulldogs 2-1, Huskies 4-1
Bemidji State vs./at North Dakota
JACK: Another home and home for the Beavers against a highly ranked NCHC team. The Beavers beat Minnesota Duluth last weekend. Last season, they beat UND 5-1 in the season opener in Grand Forks. Unlike last season, however, I don’t think a Beavers sweep is going to be as surprising. I think both teams win at home. Beavers 3-1, UND 4-2
SHANE: The Beavers have two things going for them: experienced forwards and a top-notch goaltender. I think Bitzer’s the real deal, and I think he gets it done in front of what I expect to be an electric crowd on Friday. UND, the No. 1 team I the country, will be an angry bunch on Saturday, though. Beavers 2-1, (Insert nickname here) 5-2
Minnesota State at St. Cloud State
JACK: The Mavericks’ 0-2 start shouldn’t necessarily be a big deal — Omaha is pretty good, after all — but it’s certainly a shock for a team that has lost just three times in Mankato in the past two years. Anyway, I think they’ll rally for at least a split on the road against their instate rivals. Mavericks 3-1, Huskies 4-2
SHANE: Having seen Minnesota State first-hand last weekend, I can tell you that it deserved a better fate than losing two games after the way it played. I’ve often been impressed with the way the Mavericks have rebounded after tough losses in the Mike Hastings era. They’ll get a win this weekend. Mavericks 4-3, Huskies 3-2
Lake Superior State at/vs. Northern Michigan
JACK: Another home-and-home for regional rivals. This one is a nonconference series, for some reason. Either way: Both teams had struggles last weekend. NMU should have beaten Wisconsin twice, while Lake State took a lead on North Dakota before losing. I’ll say a split because I’m not sure what’s going on with NMU’s late-game defense. Wildcats 3-1, Lakers 2-1
SHANE: It’s still too early in the season to go against anything I thought about in the preseason, and I thought Northern Michigan would be a team that, if healthy, could compete for home ice in the WCHA. While these games don’t count for points in the league standings, I’m still calling a Wildcats sweep. Wildcats 4-1, 3-2
Bowling Green at Canisius and RIT
JACK: The Falcons looked impressive sweeping Ohio State last weekend but looked lost at former CCHA rival Western Michigan for their Tuesday matchup. This could be a tough one for them with all the travel, but I’ll say a close pair of wins for BG. Falcons 3, Griffins 2; Falcons 4, Tigers 3
SHANE: Repeating the mantra from the above pick, I think Bowling Green is an excellent team, worthy of its top-10 ranking. I’ll chalk up Tuesday’s performance as a hiccup from having to play three games in four days at the start of the year (I know, WMU had to do the same thing). They’ll bounce back in impression fashion. Falcons 3, Griffins 1; Falcons 4, Tigers 2
Alaska vs. American International and RPI (Alaska Goal Rush)
JACK: The Nanooks dropped both games last weekend at the Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage — including having the distinction of being Arizona State’s first-ever Division I victim. I think they’ll bounce back with two games at home. Nanooks 5, Yellow Jackets 3; Nanooks 4, Engineers 2
SHANE: Yeah, Jack, I think this weekend will tell us a lot about the Nanooks, who will be another team competing for home ice in the WCHA. How much are they missing Colton Parayko? Well, they lost twice in Alaska and he was scoring goals for the St. Louis Blues. Nanooks 3, Yellow Jackets 2; Engineers 3, Nanooks 2
Alaska Anchorage vs. RPI, American International (Alaska Goal Rush)
JACK: The Seawolves outlasted the Sun Devils last Friday before getting run over by St. Cloud State in what was, by default, the Kendall Hockey Classic championship game. The Engineers are coming off a big upset of Boston College but they might not be acclimated to the Alaska travel because they don’t do it as much as the former WCHA and CCHA brethren. Still, I can see RPI getting another win on momentum alone. Engineers 4, Seawolves 3; Seawolves 6, Yellow Jackets 3
SHANE: Congratulations, RPI! What do you get for beating No. 1 Boston College? A trip to Fairbanks, Alaska. Actually, this time of year seems like it would be lovely to be there. I’d love to make one of those Alaska trips before I retire (lots of time). The Seawolves, I think, will split the weekend. Engineers 3, Seawolves 1; Seawolves 3, Yellow Jackets 2
Last week: Shane 9-6-3, Jack 8-7-3. Overall: Shane 9-6-3, Jack 8-7-3