WCHA picks Dec. 3

Last week Theresa: 8-4-2
Season Theresa: 48-32-9

Last week Tyler: 7-5-2
Season Tyler: 42-22-5

All conference, all the time this week.

Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4

No. 10 Denver (10-4-2, 7-2-1 WCHA) at No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth (11-1-2, 8-1-1 WCHA)
Theresa: I kind of talked about this series ad nauseum in the column this week, so no need for me to go into details. I think the Bulldogs have the edge in this series, but sometimes, nostalgia with either opening or closing a new building can get in the way of a team’s focus; I’ve seen it before. As a result, I think we’ll see a split – DU Friday, UMD Saturday.

Tyler: DU’s penalty kill is 20-for-21 (95 percent) on its current six game win streak, but those six wins came against weak opponents that combined for a 17-30-5 record and averaged a 16.5 percent PP. Up until the streak started Nov. 12, the Pioneers’ PK was at 81 percent. The DU kill faces a big challenge at UMD this weekend. The Bulldogs boast the sixth-best power play in the nation at 25.7 percent led by Justin Fontaine’s four PP goals. UMD’s offense wins games for the Bulldogs but Sam Brittain is a hot goalie right now for DU. UMD has to lose one of these tight games sooner or later. If the Pioneers stay out of the box and Brittain is on, DU will leave Duluth with a split. That’s my call.

No. 4 Nebraska-Omaha (9-2-1, 6-1-1 WCHA) at Bemidji State (3-8-2, 2-7-1 WCHA)
Theresa: The Mavericks have a week of rest coming into this series while the Beavers split a series with Northern Michigan. While I’d ideally like to call a split in this series, I think the Mavs are too powerful. UNO sweep.

Tyler: The UNO offense, led by Rich Purslow (5-10–15), Alex Hudson (6-8–14) and Matt Ambroz’s team-leading seven goals are too much for a BSU defense that has struggled against the league’s best offenses this season. UNO sweep.

St. Cloud State (5-7-2, 3-4-1 WCHA) at No. 7 North Dakota (9-5-2, 7-3-0 WCHA)
Theresa: Like Tyler says below, this should have been one of the marquee series of the season this year. Instead, not so much. Still, given all the potential that St. Cloud has and the history both these teams have, I have to call a split. UND Friday, SCSU Saturday.

Tyler: In what was supposed to be arguably the league’s marquee matchup, SCSU needs to come up with something this weekend. Time is winding down on the season’s first half and the Huskies have proven nothing. The opportunity to get that spark is at hand this weekend but whichever struggling goaltender Bob Motzko puts between the pipes, has to be lights out against the Sioux. It’s like UND to take its time offensively with just four first-period goals in WCHA games, but even if the Sioux falls behind, SCSU struggles to hold its leads. UND sweep.

No. 15 Wisconsin (7-6-3, 3-5-2 WCHA) at Alaska-Anchorage (4-8-2, 3-6-1 WCHA)
Theresa: The Badgers may have righted the ship somewhat, getting a big three nonconference points last weekend, which may give them the edge in this season. However, the Seawolves are becoming party-crashers again this season, which makes me think nothing less than a split – UAA Friday, UW Saturday.

Tyler: The Badgers are coming off a big weekend in non-conference play, tying No. 8 Michigan and beating Michigan State. UAA has been a pesky team lately, forcing splits in three straight weeks after starting the season in last place. Split.

No. 17 Minnesota (8-5-1, 5-4-1 WCHA) at Minnesota State (4-6-4, 2-6-2 WCHA)
Theresa: Neither team is doing fantastically well this year, but these in-state Minnesota school battles are typically always pretty good. Also, even though the Mavericks come into this weekend with arguably more momentum, I think I’m going with a split – UM Friday, MSU Saturday.

Tyler: After a four game skid, MSU got a huge boost by going out East and earning a sweep, albeit against a “Lowell”y opponent. Still, MSU can jump start its season with a big weekend against the U. Two seasons ago, the Mavericks pulled off an improbable sweep against the fifth-ranked Gophers when both teams were a little better. It’s hard to say why Minnesota plays so differently on a night-to-night basis but the Gophers’ proven inconsistency will hurt them again. MSU sweep.

Colorado College (6-7-1, 3-5-0 WCHA) at Michigan Tech (3-6-2, 1-6-1 WCHA)
Theresa: Two teams that are hanging around the bottom of the conference meet up in cold, cold Houghton this weekend. I’d like to call a CC sweep here, but I think the more likely result is a split – MTU Friday, CC Saturday.

Tyler: The Huskies haven’t won since their 3-0-2 start but Tech has a good shot at getting back into the win column against a struggling CC team. Split.