Candace’s Picks: March 18

Well, last week wasn’t my best effort picks-wise, as I went 2-2 (.500). I honestly didn’t think Boston University could get by Mercyhurst, and while I believed Boston College could beat Minnesota, everything I saw of both teams this year made me think Minnesota had the edge. Over in the USCHO forums, user Maine-iac started a thread waiting for a mea culpa from me (yes, I read the forums). I don’t think that was really necessary, and, despite my column, I don’t see women’s college hockey through WCHA-colored glasses. I grew up in the Northeast (attended Holy Cross), and the only college hockey jerseys I own are Hockey East ones. Having said that, when one conference is the only one to ever win the championships, and typically does so in dominating fashion, it’s hard not to expect continued excellence from said conference.

Overall on the season, I am now 191-59-24, for what I think is a very respectable .741 picks average. It’s hard to believe the season is almost over, so let’s get to the final games of the season and see how I do.

Boston College at Wisconsin: Boston College really took it to the Gophers last week, and Kelli Stack showed why she will be on several more Olympic squads. Wisconsin continued their pattern of starting slowly and then rallying for the win. I expect this to be an excellent game, and goaltender Molly Schaus, arguably the best goaltender of the four starters remaining, has been incredibly stingy. However, the Badgers are ridiculously deep offensively, with a third line that could be a first line at many schools. Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, and Brianna Decker are 2-3-4 in the country in scoring. The key for the Eagles is to get a couple of goals early, then lock down defensively while keeping the pressure on, a difficult proposition. Mary Restuccia needs to be a scoring threat as well. If she isn’t, it will be too easy for the Badgers to key on Stack. I expect that Wisconsin will ultimately get the best of this game. Wisconsin 3, Boston College 2

Boston University at Cornell: BU really missed Marie-Philip Poulin during February, but her return to health helped spark the Terriers over Mercyhurst, and BU’s leading scorer, Jenn Wakefield, has been to the Frozen Four before as a member of New Hampshire. Now they get a deep, balanced, and loaded Cornell team in the other semifinal. For the Big Red, while they aren’t as explosive offensively as Wisconsin or even Boston College, the presence of the top two goaltenders in the country, Amanda Mazzotta and Lauren Slebodnick, gives Cornell a brick wall defensively. That’s not to say Cornell can’t score, as they proved in a 7-1 shellacking of Dartmouth. I think Cornell will take this one. Cornell 4-1

CHAMPIONSHIP: Wisconsin vs. Cornell: These two squads have been the top teams in the country pretty much all year. After an off year when coach Mark Johnson, Duggan, and Knight were off with Team USA in the Olympics, Wisconsin roared back to form this season. Cornell came up agonizingly short in last year’s championship in a triple-overtime loss to Minnes0ta-Duluth. The key to this game is how well goaltender Mazzotta (or Slebodnick) can stand up against Knight, Duggan, and Decker. The old saw is that defense wins championships, and that certainly gives Cornell a great shot, but the Big Red haven’t faced a team as offensively explosive and relentless as Wisconsin all year. When it’s over Saturday, look for the Badgers to be hoisting the championship once more. Wisconsin 4, Cornell 2