MCHA, MIAC and NCHA picks for January 28-29

With back-to-back 4-2 weeks, the overall prognostication record has crept over the .500 mark at 23-19-2. My downfall continues to be my misplaced faith in the underdog as I expected Lawrence and St. Scholastica to at least snag one game on home ice in their respective series last weekend. However, No. 8 Adrian swept the Vikings and Wisconsin-Eau Claire took a pair from the Saints.
Imbued with a sense of optimism (a State of the Union speech will do that to you), I forge ahead with this weekend’s picks of marque matches in each conference.
Friday and Saturday
Jan. 28-29
Milwaukee School of Engineering vs. Lawrence: The No. 12 Raiders (13-3-1, 10-1-1) continue to mow down struggling teams, as evidenced by last weekend’s sweep at Finlandia by a combined 11-2 score. MSOE will be tested by the streaky Vikings (9-7-1, 7-5) in this home-and-home series. In Matt Hughes (9 goals, 12 assists, 21 points) and Brad Scurfield (8-9-17), the Vikes have a pair of capable point producers. However, the production falls off from there and pales when compared to MSOE’s big guns of Jordan Keizer (17-10-27) and Todd Krupa (12-8-20). In goal, Lawrence’s forwards face the formidable Raider puckstopper Connor Toomey (11-3-1, 1.84 goals-against, .925 save percentage), who is having a career year. MSOE should snatch both games. MSOE 4-2, 5-2
Hamline vs. Augsburg: The No. 11 Pipers (11-3-3, 6-0-2) have ascended to the MIAC throne by compiling a nine-game unbeaten run (6-0-3), which included last weekend’s sweep of previous first-place dwellers St. Thomas. Hamline continues to go unbeaten despite a sputtering power play (14 of 79 for .177 pct.). That’s due to even-strength mastery, namely by Brian Arrigoni (10-13-23) and Chris Berenguer (11-11-22), and stout goaltending by junior Beau Christian (9-1-2, 2.22 GAA, .929 save pct.). The Auggies (8-7-2, 2-5-1) have seen their MIAC campaign fizzle, having lost three straight. Last weekend’s sweep by Concordia (Minn.) by a pair of one-goal games (2-1 and 3-2) was particularly puzzling. Auggies’ Leading scorer Joel Sauer (10-15-25) didn’t score a goal and was held to two assists. Hamline should extend its unbeaten run to 11 games. Hamline 3-1, 4-2.
Jan. 29
St. Norbert at Wisconsin-Eau Claire: On Thursday, the No. 2 Green Knights (17-3, 11-2) nabbed a NCHA victory by beating Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 2-1, thanks to the timely heroics of talisman Johan Ryd (7-13-20). The Swedish sniper scored the game-winner with 18 seconds left. Ryd’s play (six game-winners this season) has been emblematic of St. Norbert’s overall fortunes as the Green Knights find ways to win. The Blugolds (12-7, 6-6), who travel to Wisconsin-Stevens Point tonight, have their own recent results to trumpet. The team is fresh off a two-game sweep over St. Scholastica, 5-3 and 5-2, last weekend as Jordan Singer went on a five-goal tear. Singer’s offensive output will be sorely needed at home where UW-Eau Claire is an uneven 2-3 in conference play. The Green Knights also hold the series edge, having knocked off the Blugolds, 6-3 and 3-2, at home Jan. 14-15. Expect St. Norbert to snatch a crucial road win. St. Norbert 3-2