DIII West picks for Jan. 14-15

St. Olaf’s victory over then-No. 5 Gustavus Adolphus last weekend prevented me from reaching the pantheon of prognostication mediocrity.
I was spot on in predicting the outcomes of the Adrian-Buffalo State and St. Thomas-Wisconsin-Eau Claire games, though, finishing 2-1 to bring the season ledger to 15-17. This weekend’s slate features an array of appetizing inner-league tussles.
Jan. 14-15
Milwaukee School of Engineering at Adrian: This encounter between Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association powers, No. 8 Adrian and No. 9 Milwaukee School of Engineering, will determine top spot. The Raiders are 3-1 on the road, losing to Hamline 4-1 Jan. 1. Adrian’s Arrington Ice Arena is no longer a fortress as the Bulldogs are an uncharacteristic 4-2 there, having seen their 30-game home winning streak snapped in a 5-4 loss to Marian Nov. 6. Both teams have scorers: Jordan Keizer (14 goals, 9 assists, 23 points) and Todd Krupa (10-7-17) for the Raiders; Brad Houston (9-11-20) and Shawn Skelly (9-11-20) for the Bulldogs. Special teams and goaltending will be the deciding factor. MSOE’s penalty kill is No. 1 nationally while Adrian’s power play (23 of 72, 31.9 percent) is ranked No. 3. MSOE netminder Connor Toomey (9-2, 1.58 goals-against, .934 save-percentage) gives the Raiders an edge in goal. This should be a split. Adrian 4-3; MSOE 5-2.
Hamline vs. Bethel: This home-and-home series is one of handful that could produce a seismic shift in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings. The No. 11 Pipers (8-3-1, 3-0-1) are poised to make a leap into the top spot, riding a five-game unbeaten streak that includes ties with St. Olaf, 4-4, Dec. 4; and St. Scholastica, 3-3, Jan. 8. Hamline leading-scorer Brian Arrigoni (9-8-17) has nine points in his last four games while Beau Christian (6-1-1, 2.35 GAA, .923 save-pct.) has been solid in goal. Bethel’s palatable 2-2-2 conference record is contrasted by a poor 3-10-2 overall run. The Royals have one win in their last eight, which included a pair of draws with Concordia Dec. 3-4. Jack Paul (13-7-20), Jon Crouse (3-12-15) and Christian Fogerty (4-10-14) make Bethel dangerous up front. The Pipers should prevail in a sweep, though. Hamline, 5-3, 6-2
Wisconsin-Eau Claire at St. Norbert: No. 1 Green Knights (13-2, 7-1) are ruthlessly efficient, especially considering they lead in few offensive categories. Johan Ryd (5-10-15) leads St. Norbert with four game-winning goals and added a short-handed tally to his opportunistic achievements in last week’s 5-1 win over Concordia (Minn.). B.J. O’Brien (10-1, 1.37 GAA, .940 save-pct.) has been radiant in goal. After knocking off Adrian and Geneseo Nov. 26-27, the Blugolds (10-5, 4-4) have been imbued with a sense of belief, winning seven of their last eight. Like St. Norbert, UW-Eau Claire scorers share the biscuit as five players, led by senior Ross Janecyk (7-8-15) and sophomore Jordan Singer (7-8-15), are in double figures. Self-confidence can only take a team so far, especially when pitted against a team of the Green Knights’ caliber. Expect St. Norbert to extend their unbeaten 6-0 record at home. St. Norbert 3-1, 4-2.