Last week Theresa: 7-2-1
Season Theresa: 110-63-18
Last week Tyler: 8-1-1
Season Tyler: 113-43-14
This weekend is a busy one in the conference, as all 12 teams face off against each other. That also means that this weekend is important for position jockeying, as both the top of the league and the middle of the league (that is, the fight for the MacNaughton and the fight for home ice) are very muddled.
Minnesota State (12-12-6, 6-12-4 WCHA) at No. 19 Colorado College (16-13-1, 10-10-0 WCHA)
Theresa: This could prove to be an interesting weekend and one where I can realistically see any number of results. As Tyler points out below, the Mavericks have had a bit of trouble on the road against winning teams. That, and they’ve had a bit of inconsistency when it comes to scoring (although to be fair, hot opposing goalies don’t help). The Tigers, on the other hand, have a tendency to play well against teams below them in the standings. If their power play can come together after a week of practice, they should do just fine this weekend. CC sweep.
Tyler: MSU has hung around with some of the best teams in the WCHA this season but they were all at home. The Mavericks haven’t won a road game against a team with a winning record all season. MSU will without a doubt put up a fight but CC should come out on top both nights. CC sweep.
Bemidji State (10-14-2, 6-12-2 WCHA) at Michigan Tech (3-22-3, 1-18-1 WCHA)
Theresa: Tech rule. BSU sweep.
I make that pick because of the new said Tech rule. However, if there’s a weekend left the rest of the year for the Huskies to break their streak, it’s probably this one. This weekend is Winter Carnival up in Houghton and Tech typically wins at least one game during Carny … a fact that doesn’t hurt the Huskies since they’re playing another WCHA bottom-feeder in Bemidji. I’m not changing my pick, but that all being said, I will gladly eat crow should MTU come out of this weekend with some points.
Tyler: Tech has to be on edge for Friday’s game, knowing what’s at stake. A loss means the Huskies break the league record for most losses in a row. Tech won’t lose that game because, thankfully, this weekend’s opponent is fairly weak as well. Split.
St. Cloud State (11-14-3, 7-11-2 WCHA) at No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth (18-5-4, 13-4-3 WCHA)
Theresa: From the looks of things, it appears as if the nice little streak the Huskies were on to turn around their season is now over … and I only really say that because of the way they lost last Saturday in Omaha. If SCSU comes out of this weekend with some points, it’s because they know that they’re still technically in the race for home ice. However, their opponent is a tough Minnesota-Duluth squad made scarier with the reunion of the Connolly-Connolly-Fontaine line which, I would think, should stay together this weekend. It’s a tough call, but I’ve got to say that I see a UMD sweep.
Tyler: The Huskies can’t match the firepower UMD’s top line brings, assuming Scott Sandelin keeps Justin Fontaine and the Connolly’s together after they scored five goals last Saturday. UMD sweeps.
No. 4 Denver (17-6-5, 13-4-3 WCHA) at Minnesota (11-11-4, 8-9-3 WCHA)
Theresa: Like the series above, this is good one to watch in terms of WCHA standings. DU is tied with UMD atop the league with 29 points while the Gophers are currently one point out of home ice. Given the way both teams have performed this year, it makes sense to say that this is the Pioneers’ series to lose. However, with the exception of last weekend, the Gophers have gotten at least one win out of every top-10 opponent they’ve faced (Michigan, Duluth back in December, North Dakota). So, despite the fact that DU is 9-1-1 in its last 11 against the Gophers, I think I’ll gamble on the home team and call a split – UM Friday, DU Saturday.
Tyler: The Gophers’ leading scorer, Jay Barriball, could sit out this weekend due to injury. That leaves an already punchless Minnesota lineup without its best offensive player against DU goalie Sam Brittain. Minnesota has one of the worst penalty kills nationwide, giving the Pioneers a good opportunity to improve that 18.8 percent power play. DU sweep.
Alaska-Anchorage (10-13-3, 9-11-2 WCHA) at No. 5 North Dakota (19-8-2, 14-6-0 WCHA)
Theresa: See above regarding league implications. UAA in fight for home ice, UND in fight for MacNaughton, etc., etc. With that out of the way, what does this weekend bring? The Seawolves are riding high coming into this weekend, on a three-game winning streak. They’re facing a team they tied earlier this season and a rested team coming in off the bye in the Sioux. However, it’s worth noting that the Sioux will be without Chay Genoway (which they’ve dealt with before) and most likely Danny Kristo. Due to those two things, I’m going to keep my faith in the Seawolves and call a split – UAA Friday, UND Saturday.
Tyler: The Seawolves have won the last three games going into Grand Forks but UAA also had a nice little streak going into Denver a few weeks ago and got swept. I don’t think the Seawolves have what it takes to beat a top-5 team on the road. Meanwhile, UND had a week off to assess the troublesome past six games. Sioux sweep.
No. 7 Wisconsin (19-8-3, 11-7-2 WCHA) at No. 16 Nebraska-Omaha (16-10-2, 12-6-2 WCHA)
Theresa: The Badgers have been quietly putting together a good season, particularly since December – after a Dec. 3 loss against UAA, the team has gone 12-1. With the exception of a 6-5 win over Canisius, the team also hasn’t allowed more than two goals per game during that stretch. This weekend, they face UNO, a team that has been fairly inconsistent in the second half of the season. The Mavericks have their nights when they can score (see: Jan. 21’s 8-4 win over UND), but also have nights where they struggle if they run into a hot goalie (see: Jan. 29’s 2-1 loss to UAH). Given the way both UW’s Scott Gudmandson and UNO’s John Faulkner can play, this weekend may just prove to be a goaltender’s battle. The question is, then, who comes out on top? This weekend, I’ve got to go with consistency – UW sweep.
Tyler: It’s been 84 days since the last time Scott Gudmandson allowed more than two goals in a game. If he keeps that pace against a UNO offense that’s been extremely inconsistent, the Badgers have a chance to sweep this weekend. UW will need the Gardiner/Schultz defensive pair to continue producing. The duo has been on the ice for 20 of UW’s last 26 goals. UW sweep.