Three things, Jan. 4

1. Positive Charge(rs)

Alabama-Huntsville made a big stride over the weekend, scoring its first-ever WCHA sweep, beating Alaska-Anchorage at home 3-2 and 2-1. It was also the Chargers’ first series sweep of a Division I opponent since Jan. 29-30, 2010, when they swept Niagara. “We were trying to figure out when was the last time we had a Division I sweep here, and nobody knew,” coach Mike Corbett said in a UAH video posted after the game. “[Assistant] coach [Gavin] Morgan, it’s his fifth year, and he hasn’t seen one since he’s been here. It’s been a long time and a long time coming and our guys did a great job tonight.” Max McHugh and Cody Marooney each scored two goals in the series, and goalie Carmine Guerriero stopped 58 of 61 shots. The Chargers are on a three-game unbeaten streak and are sitting in eighth place in the WCHA, one point behind next week’s opponent, Bemidji State.

2. Bulldogs stumbling

Ferris State began its long trip to Alaska and a tough second-half schedule on a flat note, getting swept in Fairbanks. Perhaps most surprising about the weekend was seeing star goalie CJ Motte allow six goals in a 6-0 loss on Saturday night. The Bulldogs have lost four games in a row and have set themselves up to be in a real battle for a home-ice playoff spot over the rest of the season. They’ll stay in Alaska to face Alaska-Anchorage Thursday and Friday and then face each of the conference’s top two teams — Minnesota State and Bowling Green — back to back over the following five weeks. Meanwhile, second-half spoiler Alaska has won five of its last six games.

3. No brooms at the top

The WCHA’s top three teams had solid weekends but not perfect ones. Minnesota State was the only team in league action and took three of four points at Northern Michigan. The Mavericks had to kill off a five-minute major for the majority of overtime on Saturday to preserve a tie with the Wildcats. Michigan Tech split a nonconference series at Wisconsin despite dominating the weekend. The Huskies won 8-1 on Friday but lost 2-0 on Saturday despite a 47-19 shot advantage. Shot stats don’t show up on the PairWise comparisons, however, and losing to the now-two-win Badgers was a bit of a blow. Finally, Bowling Green got a boost from a tie and win against Robert Morris. The tie took place outdoors in Toledo, Ohio, and the win took place Sunday in Pittsburgh. After the weekend, MSU dropped from first to second in the PairWise, BGSU moved up to fifth and Tech dropped to 13th.

WCHA picks: Jan. 2-4

Shane here … Happy new year, everybody! Jack and I weren’t so hot with our WCHA picks last week. Didn’t see that Lake Superior State tournament championship in Florida coming (Congratulations, Lakers!). Didn’t see Michigan Tech and Ferris State losing in the first round of the Great Lakes Invitational. The picks get no easier this week as a few teams return to conference play and others continuing some intriguing nonconference series.

On to the picks …

Minnesota State at Northern Michigan

Shane: The third-ranked Mavericks kick off a tough second-half schedule with a trip to Marquette to face a Wildcats team that has cooled off since its red-hot start to the season. When we last left MSU, it had to cancel a game due to an illness that had spread through the team. The midseason break couldn’t have come at a better time. Same might be said for NMU, which has won one of its last seven games. I like the Mavericks’ offense more than the Wildcats’ defense right now. Mavericks 3-2, 4-2

Jack: The health of Mathaias Dahlstrom might be the key to this series. The NMU goalie missed their series at Bemidji State before the break and the Wildcats went 0-1-1 in Bemidji. If the Wildcazts have Dahlstrom back, they might be able to earn the split. If not, it could be rough on them. I don’t think Dahlstrom’s injury was serious so I’ll call a split assuming he returns healthy. Either way, they need him back healthy soon to try and get back on track. Wildcats 3-2, Mavericks 4-2

Alaska Anchorage at Alabama Huntsville

Shane: The Seawolves struggled in November and December, winning just one of eight games, although they have a win and two ties in their last three. If Anchorage has hopes of getting home ice for the playoffs, it needs to start getting points. There was a time, not all that long ago, when playing the Chargers seemed like an automatic four points. Not so anymore. Although, UAH is on a seven-game winless streak, it did score a tie at Nebraska Omaha on Sunday. Chargers 3-2, Seawolves 4-1

Jack: This could be an underrated fun series to watch. The Seawolves have some firepower but can’t seem to figure out how to close out games, while the Chargers have some good goalies but haven’t figured out how to score consistently. Maybe both teams will bring out the best in each other this weekend and we’ll see a split. Seawolves 3-1, Chargers 4-2

Ferris State at Alaska

Shane: Ferris State last week began a brutal stretch of games in which it will play just two home games in a span of six weekends. The Bulldogs are also the latest team to do the two-week stay in Alaska, which they begin this week against the Nanooks. I really think Alaska is a team that would get home ice (again) if it was eligible, and it will spend the rest of the season reminding people of that. Nanooks 3-1, 2-1

Jack: The fact that Alaska has to miss the playoffs is a real bummer. They’re an exciting team, and Tyler Morley and Colton Parayko probably aren’t getting the accolades they deserve due to the Nanooks’ punishment. Ferris might have a tough time up north so I’ll agree with you, Shane, and go with the sweep. Nanooks 4-3, 2-1

Michigan Tech at Wisconsin

Shane: The fifth-ranked team in the nation plays a one-win team. I’m sure that’s been a scenario in the past between these two teams, only with the roles reversed. I wonder when the last time Tech went to Madison as the favorite against the Badgers. Sometime in the 1970s, I suppose. The Huskies looked really good in the GLI last week, even in the 2-1 loss to Michigan in the first round. Huskies 4-2, 4-1

Jack: The only concern for the Huskies might be that they had a few less days of rest coming off the Sunday-Monday GLI games. I don’t really think that will affect them, though, since as you said, they looked very good in both games despite losing one. Wisconsin, meanwhile, has… not looked good this season. I can’t see anything other than a Tech sweep. Huskies 4-1, 4-1

Bowling Green vs. Robert Morris (Saturday-Sunday)

Shane: This series should be a good one between the 13th- and 19th-ranked teams in the country and will begin with an outdoor game at Fifth Third Field in Toledo (home of the Mud Hens!) before moving to Pittsburgh. The Falcons have lost just one of their last nine games and will be a force in the WCHA over the second half. It looks like the Colonials are pretty solid, too. Falcons 4-2, Colonials 3-2

Jack: The real question is if Bowling Green and Robert Morris will make like the host Toledo Walleye and wear some Star Wars-themed jerseys for the occasion. After all, playing a hockey game outdoors does remind one an awful lot of Hoth, doesn’t it? Anyway, I’m expecting a really entertaining series like you. I see a split as well. Falcons 5-3, Colonials 3-2

Last week: Shane 4-4-0, Jack 3-5-0

Overall: Shane 66-39-9, Jack 62-43-9

WCHA picks, Dec. 28-29: GLI and Florida Classic

And we’re back! Kinda. The WCHA eases back into action this week with three teams participating in holiday tournaments.

Michigan Tech and Ferris State are making this season’s Great Lakes Invitational an ostensible all-Michigan version of a WCHA/B1G challenge Sunday and Monday in Detroit, while Lake Superior State is making its first trip to the Florida College Hockey Classic.
These should be a pretty good appetizer for the New Years’ Day bowls, the college football playoff and the Winter Classic. Let’s go ahead and make some picks!
Great Lakes Invitational (at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit)
Sunday’s Semifinals: Michigan Tech vs. Michigan; Ferris State vs. Michigan State
Jack: I don’t know about you, Shane, but out of all of these tournaments involving WCHA teams, I’ll be most interested in the GLI. For the first time in at least 30 years (and maybe ever), Tech is the heavy favorite. Of course, the heavy favorite doesn’t always win these holiday tournaments — see two years ago, when the Huskies went to Detroit at 5-10-2 before shocking everybody and winning the whole thing. That said, Tech has already swept both Michigan and Ferris in the regular season. I’d be kind of crazy not to pick them to win it all this year. Right? RIGHT? Semis: Huskies 4, Wolverines 2; Bulldogs 3, Spartans 1. Third Place: Sparty 2, Wolverines 1. Championship: Huskies 3, Bulldogs 2 (OT). 
Shane: You and I have talked a lot about the WCHA vs. the Big Ten this season, and here’s a great head-to-head matchup between the conferences. I just found out that the games are on Fox Sports North here in Minnesota, so I just might have to take in some GLI action. I’m with you, I think the WCHA teams are the favorites, and, of those two, Tech is the best team. We’re going to look a lot alike here, except for the third-place pick (should that even count for our records?). Semis: Huskies 4, Wolverines 1; Bulldogs 2, Spartans 1. Third place: Wolverines 4, Spartans 2. Championship: Huskies 4, Bulldogs 2
Florida College Hockey Classic (at Estero, Fla.)
Sunday’s Semifinals: Lake Superior State vs. Cornell; Notre Dame vs. Miami
Jack: Lake Superior State is making its debut at the Florida College Hockey Classic (or FCHC for short), subbing in for former tournament regular Maine. The Lakers’ presence gives the tourney a distinct CCHA flavor, but the Lake State/Cornell game is definitely the undercard for what should be a pretty entertaining ND/Miami battle earlier in the day. I don’t know anything about Cornell other than they’ve beaten a pair of good teams in Denver and Penn State but lost to a weak Princeton squad. Not sure how the Lakers will make it out of this one with a win. Semis: Big Red 5, Lakers 4; RedHawks 3, Irish 1. Third Place: Irish 5, Lakers 3. Championship: RedHawks 4, Big Red 2.
Shane: It’s been a tough first half for the Lakers, but there are worse things than getting a mid-season trip to Florida. You’re right, though, it’s a difficult tournament field with three teams that certainly have goals of getting to the NCAA tournament this season. None of them want to lose to Lake State, and I just don’t see an upset at this time. Semis: Big Red 2, Lakers 1; Irish 4, RedHawks 2. Third place: RedHawks 5, Lakers 2. Championship: Irish 3, Big Red 2

WCHA Picks, Dec. 20-21

Slim pickings as far as college hockey goes this week. In fact, aside from a Bemidji State/Ohio State women’s series also happening this weekend, this is the only non-exhibition Division I action this week.

Shane still has a slim lead over me in the overall picks but I gained on him thanks to picking the correct Michigan Tech win on the correct day last weekend against Minnesota Duluth.

Anyway, onto the pick. I need to go watch my favorite Christmas movie ever (Die Hard, obviously) so luckily there’s only one series this weekend!

Alabama Huntsville (3-13-2) at Nebraska Omaha (10-4-2)

Shane: Omaha has proven to be one of the better teams in the country, so I’d have a hard time predicting an upset this weekend. Certainly, the Chargers goaltenders could give the Mavericks fits, especially Carmine Guerriero, their usual series-opener starter. He’ll keep it close, but that’s about it. Mavericks 2-1, 5-2

Jack: I, like you, also think Omaha is one of the best teams in the country. UAH will have a hard time, but in the spirit of Christmas I’m going to pick a split. The Chargers could use a win like this and maybe they will catch the Mavericks off-guard. Guerriero is going to steal them a win on Saturday night. Yippee-ki-yay. Chargers 2-1, Mavericks 4-2.

Last week: Jack 6-1-2, Shane 5-2-2

Overall: Jack 59-37-8, Shane 61-35-8

Three things I learned about the WCHA at the break

1. Tech, Minnesota State tied at the top

No matter what happened this weekend, the WCHA’s top three teams would have been set going into intermission anyway. Michigan Tech and Minnesota State — both of whom played nonconference contests this weekend — are tied at the top of the league table with 20 points, while idle Bowling Green sits in third with 17 points.

Not a huge surprise that these three teams are on top, considering they’re the top three scoring offenses in the league and have had a big leg up on the rest of the league.

League play re-starts in January, and special attention will be paid to which of these three teams pulls away (Bowling Green plays at Tech Jan. 16-17 — what should be a huge series to determine who wins the McNaughton Cup).

2. Beavers trending upwards, Wildcats downwards

Bemidji State took three of four points from Northern Michigan at home last weekend, winning 4-2 Friday and tying 1-1 Saturday. It’s part of a five-game unbeaten streak for the Beavers, who go into the break on a high after losing seven straight games in the month of November. They go into the break in seventh place in the league standings (nine points) but are just thee points behind NMU and Ferris State, who are tied for fourth with 12 points.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, have only won two times in their last eight games and have given up more goals in the past two weeks (15) than they did the entire rest of the season before that. (They have given up 29 total goals this season). On top of that, Mathais Dahlstrom missed his first two games of the season last weekend in Bemidji with an injury. Luckily for NMU, he has the break to heal up but they’ll want to make sure he’s back to his normal self soon.

3. WCHA already better out of conference

At the break, WCHA teams are 25-22-5 in nonconference play this year. That’s already just one game behind last year’s win total of 26. (The league went 26-46-12 overall in nonconference last season.)

A few notable wins this season — both Minnesota State and Michigan Tech have split with Minnesota Duluth, and Bemidji State beat North Dakota — have contributed to that cause, but so have a few lower-profile series (like Alabama Huntsville taking three points from Air Force).

Later in December, league teams will play in some big nonconference tournaments like the Great Lakes Invitational which should surely boost the numbers.

All of these wins aren’t just good for the league’s reputation — which they are — but also the league’s Pairwise. If WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson wants to achieve his goal of having three teams in this year’s tournament, they league is off to a great start against its peers.

WCHA picks, Dec. 12-13

The first half of the season is coming to an end, Jack, and I’d say we’ve done fairly well with our picks, especially considering there have been a few surprises in what’s become a pretty darn-good conference. No more wasting time, though, I have shopping to do:

Lake Superior State at Ferris State

Shane: Lake Superior State less than a period an a half from pulling off a stunning upset at North Dakota a week ago but couldn’t close the deal. The Lakers appeared to play UND tough the next night, too, despite another loss, so that could give them some confidence going to Big Rapids against a good team that still has a lot of questions to answer Considering Ferris State’s brutal upcoming schedule (just two home games in their next 12 after this), these games are vital to the Bulldogs to stay in home-ice contention for the second half of the season. They’ll sweep at home. Bulldogs 3-1, 2-1

Jack: The Lakers have definitely shown improvement since struggling to start the season. And that first game in Grand Forks had me bugging out for a good hour until UND rallied for the big win. The Bulldogs, too, haven’t been themselves as of late. I think we may see a pair of close games but I’m just not confident in the Lakers holding on against quality teams. I say sweep too. Bulldogs 4-1, 2-1

Northern Michigan at Bemidji State

Shane: The luck has flipped a bit for these two teams, with Northern Michigan and the once-red-hot Mathias Dahlström suddenly giving up goals (10 at home last weekend to Bowling Green!) and Bemidji State going unbeaten in its last three games after dropping seven close ones in a row. This should be an entertaining series for you to cover this weekend, Jack, and I think you’ll see a series split. Beavers 3-2, Wildcats 4-2

Jack: I agree that this should be a good series. Dahlström suddenly looks only human as opposed to a puck-stopping robot (he’s all the way up to 1.71 GAA now!) but I have a feeling he should get back on track soon. The Beavers, meanwhile, have been scoring a lot of goals lately — seven in each of the past two weekends — but they’ll be without leading scorer Brendan Harms for at least four weeks. That will be a big blow for them, simply because Harms is such a great playmaker for them. (The Fitzgerald triplets, on the other hand, are just now starting to heat up — watch out.) I agree that this seems like a split, though. Wildcats 3-2, Beavers 5-3

Alabama Huntsville at Alaska

Shane: I was really impressed with what I saw out of Alaska last weekend. The Nanooks would be a home-ice contender if not for the fact that they’re banned for the postseason. After dropping five in a row, Alaska has split its last three series. Alabama Huntsville clearly has improved from last season, and I think it will score some goals this weekend, but I can’t call an upset. Nanooks 4-2, 5-2

Jack: These Alaska trips are never easy on any team, but the Huntsville-to-Fairbanks voyage is the longest in the league. You’re right that these should be entertaining games — they could be high-scoring, since thew Nanooks can give up some goals — but I’ll still call a UAF sweep. Nanooks 5-4, 5-3

Minnesota Duluth at Michigan Tech

Shane: I’ll definitely have this series pulled up on WCHA.tv this weekend while covering the MSU games in Mankato. Should be a great nonconference matchup between the No. 4 Huskies and the No. 9 Bulldogs, as Jack wrote about in this week’s WCHA column. The two teams have lost just three of their last 23 games (that includes all of Tech’s games), so the natural inclination is to call a series split. Huskies 4-2, Bulldogs 4-2

Jack: I’ve said this a lot this year, but Houghton is once again the place to be this weekend. Especially if you like hockey. (If you don’t like hockey, I’m sure Lake Superior is also lovely this time of year.) When I talked to Huskies coach Mel Pearson he said he didn’t see a lot of differences between these teams, and I tend to agree. I’ll also call a split. Bulldogs 3-1, Huskies 5-3

Princeton at Minnesota State

Shane: The No. 3 Mavericks close out the first half of their schedule with a nonconference series against the rebuilding Tigers. If Minnesota State was due to have a hiccup, I think that happened last Friday at home against Alaska when it lost in overtime. That got MSU’s attention, and I think it continues its high-flying scoring act this weekend. Mavericks 5-1, 5-2

Jack: Minnesota State’s scoring offense is No. 3 in the country (behind, somewhat surprisingly, Robert Morris and Michigan). Princeton’s offense is the worst in the country and they’ve given up more than 3.5 goals a game. And to make matters worse for the Tigers, George Parros retired from the NHL last week, depriving them of their most famous NHL alumnus. I can’t see the Tigers tripping up the Mavs this week. Mavericks 6-1, 5-1

Three things, Dec. 7

Three things I think I learned from the weekend that was in the WCHA:

1. Nanooks are dangerous

Alaska gave No. 2 Minnesota State all it could handle and more over the weekend, splitting a series in Mankato. The Nanooks are good. Tyler Morley and Colton Parayko are legit all-league players. Freshman Austin Vieth is a solid rookie, who scored in OT on Friday. It’s too bad they won’t be able to compete in the postseason due to the NCAA sanctions that came down last month. Minnesota State, I’ll bet, is one team that’s glad it doesn’t face the prospect of Alaska coming back to town (or having to go to Fairbanks) for the playoffs. It was a tough matchup for the Mavericks. Alaska will be in spoiler mode for the second half of the season.

2. Falcons keep flying

Anyone who doubts the potency of Bowling Green anymore isn’t paying attention. The Falcons went on the road to Northern Michigan, which was the best defensive team in the country (allowing a measly 1.17 goals per game going into the weekend) and hung up 10 goals in the two games, five each night. The first game ended in a 5-5 tie, and the second was a 5-0 victory on a Chris Nell shutout. Wildcats goalie Mathias Dahlström appears to have come back to earth a bit, but Bowling Green came at him in waves, with six different players scoring goals in the series.

3. Upset opportunity fizzles

There was some early intrigue in Grand Forks, N.D., on Friday night when Lake Superior State went up 3-0 and 4-1 on No. 1 North Dakota. The Lakers, who were shut out in back-to-back home games a week earlier against Minnesota State, were trying to pull off a shocking upset — or at least continue a three-week trend of being the team that knocks No. 1 off its perch. In the end, order was restored, and UND won 7-4 and 3-1. Can the Lakers, who have lost six of seven, gain some confidence from their experience? They go to Ferris State next weekend. The Lakers are in a four-way tie for sixth place with Alaska as well as Alaska Anchorage and Bemidji State, who tied twice in their series in Anchorage.

WCHA picks, Dec. 5-6

We’re finally into December, and I’m still hanging tough three games behind Shane (Ferris State tying Wisconsin last Friday didn’t do me many favors, but it turned out Shane also picked the Badgers to win on the wrong day so it’s a wash).

This week just seven of the league’s teams are in action, with only three league series. It’ll be interesting to see how this week (and next) play out to see how the teams finish going into the holiday break.

Anyway, enough chit-chat: Onto the picks.

No. 14 Bowling Green (10-3-1, 7-1-0) at No. 19 Northern Michigan (8-3-1, 5-3-0)

Jack: Without question the series of the weekend. And it should be a good one: Can Bowling Green’s high-powered offense solve Northern’s stingy defense? Or will Mathaias Dahlstom steal the show? Because this game is in Marquette and not at the funhouse rink that is BGSU Ice Arena, I’ll say the Wildcats are favored defensively. But the Falcons still could score a (low-scoring) split. Wildcats 2-0, Falcons 2-1.

Shane: I agree that this should be a great series between two good teams. Northern Michigan had to be happy with a 2-2-0 showing during its long Alaska trip, although it seems that Dahlstrom has come back to Earth a bit. Bowling Green still seems to be under the radar a bit, despite its outstanding record and could make a big splash with a sweep. Still, I, too, think it will be a split. Wildcats 3-1, Falcons 3-2

Alaska (7-7-0, 2-6-0) at No. 2 Minnesota State (11-3-0, 9-1-0)

Jack: The Mavericks are rolling right now, and I would not want to be in the Nanooks’ shoes. MSU has won six straight games and have scored 26 goals in that span. The Nanooks managed a split against Northern Michigan but I just can’t see anyone stopping the Mavericks in Mankato right now. Mavericks 4-1, 5-2.

Shane: Minnesota State’s strength is its depth right now, getting scoring from all four lines, solid defense and — suddenly — very good goaltending. Different players have stepped up at different times, which bodes well for a team playing at home for the first time in nearly a month. Alaska won’t be a pushover, though. Mavericks 4-3, 3-2

Bemidji State (4-10-0, 2-6-0) at Alaska Anchorage (5-7-2, 2-6-0)

Jack: The Beavers finally snapped their long losing streak by beating instate rivals St. Cloud Saturday. While it’s nice to see BSU score some goals, the question is if they can keep it up — especially following a long roadtrip to Anchorage. However, Anchorage still hasn’t been swept at home since 2012-13. They’ve been playing better as of late. I’ll call a split. Seawolves 3-2, Beavers 4-1.

Shane: Both of these teams snapped long losing streaks their last time out with the Seawolves stopping a six-game skid with a shutout of Northern Michigan (then getting a week off) and the Beavers stopping a seven-game slide. Who will get a winning streak started? I say the Beavers, but in an eventual split. Beavers 3-1, Seawolves 4-2

Lake Superior State (3-13-0) at No. 1 North Dakota (10-3-2)

Jack: How crazy is it that these teams have played one series, and that was in the early 70s? You’d have figured they’d at least have met once or twice in the Lakers’ national title heyday (late 80s/early 90s) but it just never happened. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they’re going back to Grand Forks at perhaps the lowest point in the program’s history. North Dakota just has too many weapons to make this a fair fight. UND 5-1, 4-2.

Shane: The only thing going against North Dakota this weekend is November’s curse on the No. 1 team in the country, which has made for four different top teams in as many weeks (Minnesota, Michigan Tech, Boston University, North Dakota). UND 6-1, 4-1

Last week: Jack 6-3-1, Shane 6-3-1

Overall: Jack 53-36-6, Shane 56-33-6

Three things in the WCHA, Nov. 30

After last weekend featured all 10 league teams in action against each other, this weekend found the action dialed back a little, with just three league series and two teams having byes. Three notable things, from my view:

1. Solid weekend for top teams

After their exciting series in Houghton (one that the Mavericks swept in a pair of close games), both Minnesota State and Michigan Tech continued to dominate their competition on the road. The Mavericks swept Lake Superior State while Michigan Tech swept Alabama Huntsville.

The Mavs had a little easier time of things in the Soo — winning the series with a 7-0 and 3-0 games. Stephon Williams stopped all 45 shots to slam the door on the Lakers.

Meanwhile in Huntsville, Tech had a little tougher time with the Chargers, as the teams played a pair of back-and-forth games before Tech won 4-2 and 5-2 in a battle of WCHA Engineering Schools.

Tech currently sits in first place in the league standings with 20 points in 12 games but the Mavs, who have 18 points in 10 games, host Alaska this weekend with a chance to pull ahead of the Huskies, who have the weekend off.

With just two weeks before the holiday break, there’s a chance these teams could be tied at the top of the standings going into the end of December.

2. Wildcats split in Alaska

No. 19 Northern Michigan returns from its two-weeklong Alaska trip with a 2-2 record. Neither Alaska team is easy to beat at home, much less sweep, so the Wildcats have to be pleased to return to the Lower 48 with two wins and four points.

After splitting with Alaska-Anchorage two weekends ago (winning 1-0 then losing 4-0), NMU managed a split with Alaska in Fairbanks this past weekend. The Nanooks won 3-0 Friday before the Wildcats rallied to win 4-1 Saturday.

Goaltender Mathias Dahlström, despite giving up eight goals on the weekend, still has the best goals against average (1.19) in the country.

However, NMU has scored just 25 goals in 12 games — in the bottom half of the WCHA in scoring offense. They’ll want to improve their scoring to bail out Dahlström and make it a little easier on themselves than the white-knuckle, close games they’ve found themselves in.

Also: circle next weekend on your calendar (in case you forget that next weekend is just five days away). The Wildcats host No. 15 Bowling Green in a battle of two surprising WCHA contenders.

3. Beavers finally find a reward

After losing seven straight — including three straight league series — Bemidji State finally snapped their “play well but can’t finish” streak Saturday, beating No. 16 St. Cloud State 4-1 in Bemidji. Not only did this game feature the much-anticipated “Triple Fitzg3rald” (aka, a Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald) goal) but also had senior goaltender Andrew Walsh in prime form. He stopped 34 shots for his second win of the season.

Although the Beavers’ 4-10-0 record doesn’t seem like much, they’ve shown what they have the potential to do against some top-quality competition. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win some more games if they can find the back of the net with more consistency.

WCHA picks, Nov. 28-29

Happy Thanksgiving, WCHA fans! I’m particularly thankful for my ability to guess correctly on the some splits last weekend, while Jack went the other way, and therefore pass my cohort for the overall lead. Sure, we could have stuck with picks straight sweeps or splits, but we’re going game by game for a high degree of difficulty.

It gets no easier this weekend with eight teams in action, including two in nonconference play.

All right, let’s make the picks before the tryptophan kicks in:

Minnesota State at Lake Superior State

Shane: The Mavericks return to the U.P. one week after sweeping Michigan Tech and will try to avoid a letdown after those two big victories. Minnesota State only moved to No. 7 in the rankings after that, which was probably just fine for coach Mike Hastings, who has done a good job managing MSU’s tough road schedule. I think that continues this weekend against the improving Lakers. Mavericks 5-2, 3-2

Jack: Not quite sure why the Mavericks failed to move ahead of the team they just swept on the road, but I will never understand how most people vote in polls (to each his or her own, I guess). The only thing that really matters at the moment: MSU is No. 1 in the pairwise. I foresee that continuing. The Lakers have been better in November (the return of forward Chris Ciotti from has helped immensely) but I don’t think they will matter against the Mavericks. A sweep seems likely. Mavericks 5-2, 6-3

Michigan Tech at Alabama Huntsville

Shane: Despite dropping their first two games of the season, I was impressed with what I saw from the Huskies last weekend. Minnesota State won those games; Tech didn’t lose them. Like MSU, Tech is taking a long road trip and playing a much-improved (and much more confident) team that struggled early on. But I think the Huskies are good and will rebound. Huskies 4-1, 4-2

Jack: I just want the record to show that although I did pick the wrong way on a few of those split, I DID pick an Alabama-Huntsville split in Ferris! (Unfortunately for me I picked it on the wrong day… C’est la vie). Anyway, I think the Huskies are too good to let this losing streak extend too long, so I think they rebound here. But don’t be surprised if it’s a pair of one-goal games once again. As we’ve seen, Carmine Guerriero can keep Huntsville in any game. Huskies 2-1, 1-0

Northern Michigan at Alaska

Shane: The Wildcats are in the midst of their long Alaska road trip, so it will be interesting to see how they come out in the second series. The Nanooks, meanwhile, are home after their own long trip to the Sault where they got their first league win of the season. I see a split. Wildcats 3-1, Nanooks 2-1

Jack: Mathias Dahlstrom gave up four goals last Saturday against Alaska-Anchorage. He’d given up just six total in nine previous games. It says a lot about him and his defense that said game bumped his goals-against all the way up to… 0.99. He’s gonna want to get that exorbitant rate back down this weekend, huh? Seriously though, I can see the Nanooks scoring the split but, I doubt the Wildcats are going to give up four goals again anytime soon. Nanooks 1-0, Wildcats 4-1

Ferris State at Wisconsin

Shane: The Bulldogs head to Madison to face the nation’s only winless team. Shocking, isn’t it that Wisconsin is 0 for the season so far. Ferris State, meanwhile, is still trying to figure out some things after that home split with Huntsville a week ago. While I’d like to pick a Bulldogs sweep, I think Wisco gets off the schneid and they split. Badgers 2-1, Bulldogs 3-0

Jack: I’m tempted to agree with Shane and say the Badgers will finally score a W but I’m already on Badgers’ fans naughty list for picking them to be swept by Northern Michigan earlier this season. I see no reason to turn face again, seeing as how I’m public enemy No. 1 in Madison (probably not, but I’d like to think they hate me). Bulldogs rally back from splitting with Huntsville and sweep. Bulldogs 4-1, 3-2

St. Cloud State at Bemidji State

Shane: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: This Bemidji State schedule is brutal. Every team the Beavers have played has been ranked at the time of the meeting. If they’re learning from the tough competition and not losing confidence, they could be scary in the second half. Perhaps their improvement starts this weekend with a split. Huskies 4-2, Beavers 3-2

Jack: It’s been a frustrating six games for Tom Serratore’s crew. They’ve played well enough to win in all six but are still 0-6 against the league’s top three teams (MSU, Tech and BGSU). They haven’t really gotten any bounces their way, either (watch Sean Walker’s empty-netter for Bowling Green in last Saturday’s game for proof of this). This week BSU steps out of the conference to take on another highly-ranked instate rival. I feel like at some point the bounces have to start going BSU’s way. I’ll pick the split. Beavers 4-2, Huskies 5-3

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