WCHA Picks: Nov. 25-27

Princeton (2-6-1, 2-5-0 ECAC) at No. 10 Denver (5-3-3, 4-2-3 WCHA)

TylerThe Pioneers are unbeaten in five of their past six games but they need to start finishing games. The Pioneers lost third-period leads in two of those ties. Denver has scored only one goal in third periods in the six-game stretch dating back to Oct. 28. Denver will kill the habit this weekend but continue its unbeaten ways with wins over Princeton and Miami.

Brian: Denver seems to have found its scoring touch recently in averaging five goals per game in its last three outings in which the Pioneers are unbeaten. The Tigers are at the bottom of the ECAC in team defense and won’t be able to keep up with DU offensively. Denver wins.

Miami (6-6-2, 4-4-2-1 CCHA) at No. 10 Denver (5-3-3, 4-2-3 WCHA)

TylerSee above.

Brian: After a rough start, the RedHawks have begun to turn things around of late and are in the midst of a six game unbeaten streak. Despite the recent offensive surge, the Pioneers have allowed three or more goals in five consecutive games for the first time since 2006-07. Denver holds a 4-3 edge in the all-time series but is 3-1 in Denver including a 1-1 record with Miami in Denver Cup games. It will be tight, but DU prevails.

No. 18 Michigan Tech (7-4-1, 4-4-1 WCHA) at St. Lawrence (4-6-0, 4-2-0 ECAC)

Tyler: It seems as though the Huskies have been everywhere in North America except for Houghton, lately; a series in Anchorage, Thanksgiving in Chicago, before they finally make it to Upstate New York. A good weekend at St. Lawrence would help validate Michigan Tech’s play on the road after it started the season with eight out of 10 games at home. The Huskies need to keep an eye on Kyle Flanagan, who has 13 points in nine games for St. Lawrence. He’s a quick and valuable player and might be the best player on the ice this weekend, but he doesn’t have much of a team around him.  The Huskies are the superior team in this one but the jet lag might catch up to them. Split.

Brian: Each team ranks third in their respective conferences in team defense but the Huskies are averaging nearly 1.2 goals per game more than the Saints. Michigan Tech and St. Lawrence skated to a 4-4 tie last season before the Huskies lost decisively the following night 6-0. Although the Huskies are much improved over last year, I think the grind of nearly two weeks on the road will catch up to them. Split.

Alaska Anchorage (4-7-1, 1-7-0 WCHA) at Minnesota State (3-9-0, 2-6-0 WCHA)

Tyler: The two worst teams teams in the WCHA both have a good chance to get in the win column this weekend. I’ll take a split. Neither team has good goaltending or ability to score. I like the Mavericks at home but the injury bug refuses to go away. It got so bad that Joe Schiller and Mike Louwerse had to convert to defense for last weekend’s series at Minnesota-Duluth.

Brian: The Seawolves were 2-1-1 against the Mavericks last season but Minnesota State has won 23 of the last 34 meetings between the two schools. This is the battle of the conference’s worst team offense (UAA-0.88 goals scored per game) and the worst team defense (MSU-4.38 goals allowed per game). Desperation has set in for Alaska-Anchorage and they will leave Mankato with a split.

No. 3 Minnesota (11-3-0, 8-2-0 WCHA) at No. 20 Michigan State (7-5-0, 4-4-0-0 CCHA)

TylerThe Spartans are 3-1 in November and haven’t had more than 24 shots in that stretch and scored 12 goals. Gophers goaltender Kent Patterson is better than the goalies Michigan State faced the past two weekends, but the Minnesota defense showed how leaky it can be in a 4-3 loss at St. Cloud State last Friday. If the Gophers claim a lead early on, they’ll win. Minnesota dominates later parts of the game, outscoring the opposition 24-4 in the third period. Gophers sweep

Brian: It has been over 30 years since the Gophers and the Spartans have met in a two-game series in the regular season. The Spartans have opened things up slightly under new coach Tom Anastos and are averaging around a half goal per game more (2.88) than last season in the CCHA. But that would only be good for ninth in the WCHA where Minnesota ranks fifth with ‘only’ 3.60 per game. But Munn Arena’s cozy confines will be an adjustment for the Gophers who are allowing 1.43 more goals per game on the road than at home. The teams split the last series at East Lansing in 1980 and history repeats itself this weekend.

Mercyhurst (6-5-1, 5-1-1 AH) at Wisconsin (5-8-1, 4-7-1 WCHA)

TylerMercyhurst goaltender Max Strang has a .930 save percentage but the Lakers have offensive struggles, but so does Wisconsin. In the Badgers’ last three games (all losses), they’ve scored four goals. I think the Badgers are going to win a close, low-scoring game and break out of its scoring slump and put up five goals in the other game this weekend. Wisconsin sweep

Brian: Although the Lakers sit atop the Atlantic Hockey standings, their most recent forays into battle with WCHA foes have produced 5-1 and 6-2 losses to Nebraska-Omaha and Alaska-Anchorage respectively. The Badgers, who are looking to snap a three-game winless streak, return home where they are 5-3-0 this season. Wisconsin sweeps.

No. 4 Colorado College (7-2-0, 5-2-0 WCHA) at North Dakota (4-7-1, 2-6-0 WCHA)

Tyler: With the exception of Minnesota, I believe CC is the best team in the WCHA, and though the Sioux is sitting in 10th place, this is going to be an entertaining series. UND has to play disciplined because it doesn’t want to put the nation’s sixth-best power play (25.5 percent) on the ice. The Tigers are 8-for-27 on the man advantage in their last five games. This one’s a split. Ralph Engelstad Arena is a difficult place for opposing teams to play, no matter what UND’s record is. But the Tigers are going to show why they’re the better team and leave Grand Forks with one win.

Brian: North Dakota holds and impressive 135-76-10 (.633) advantage over Colorado College in the all-time series but are a staggering 80-19-6 (.790) against CC in Grand Forks. Despite the Sioux’s scoring troubles and the emergence of Josh Thorimbert in goal for the Tigers, I’m having a hard time betting against history and feel like North Dakota steals one this weekend. Split.

St. Cloud State (6-6-2, 4-3-1 WCHA) at No. 19 Nebraska-Omaha (6-6-2, 5-3-2 WCHA)

Tyler: The Mavericks have been up-and-down all season but that changes this weekend. The Huskies played a high-emotion series against Minnesota last weekend but SCSU’s injuries to two of their captains could ware on the team. The best way the Huskies give themselves a chance is to get on the board early, like it did in Friday’s win against Minnesota. SCSU has lost every game, but one, when trailing after the first period. Meanwhile, UNO has allowed the other team to take a lead after the first period, three times this season.

Brian: The Huskies continue to be the league’s most penalized team which should play into the hands of Nebraska-Omaha’s third-ranked power play much like it did for Minnesota in last Saturday’s 5-0 win over SCSU. The Mavericks are 33-11-3 at home since the start of the 2009-10 season while St. Cloud State is just 2-6-0 on the road this season. UNO sweeps.