WCHA picks: Jan. 13-14

No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth (14-3-3, 10-2-2 WCHA) at Nebraska-Omaha (10-8-4, 7-4-3 WCHA)

Tyler: The CenturyLink Center is a big building that’s going to be packed and wild this weekend to greet the nation’s No. 1 team. So was Western Michigan’s barn but the Bulldogs went in and pushed the Mustnags around in UMD sweep last weekend. UNO’s top line of Terry Broadhurst/Brock Montpetit/Matt White hasn’t had a whole lot of time to mesh and didn’t put any goals on the board as a line in their two games together against Quinnipiac two weeks ago. The Mavericks have become too unproductive up front and will have a tough time keeping up with UMD. UMD sweep

Brian: The Bulldogs take over five minutes more in penalties than Nebraska-Omaha which is significant in that UMD’s penalty kill is ranked 40th in the nation while UNO’s power play is 13th. But the Mavs will have to make any man advantage opportunities count since Minnesota-Duluth opponents are only averaging 1.3 even strength goals per game while the Mavericks themselves average just 1.8 per game at even strength. In the end the nation’s top-ranked scoring offense (4.10 goals per game) is too much and UMD sweeps.

No. 5 Minnesota (15-7-1, 11-3-0 WCHA) at No. 17 North Dakota (11-8-2, 7-7-0 WCHA)

Tyler:  The Gophers have played rather sluggish since Christmas, with home losses to Northeastern, and then Notre Dame last weekend. What a great time to have a rivalry game on the schedule to wake Minnesota up. UND isn’t head-and-shoulders above the Gophers in the physical play department as evidenced by the first two games between these teams in November. UND is banged up but slowly getting healthier but nothing will slow the team down this weekend. This one’s going to be fun to watch as always and I don’t see either team letting the other grab a big edge all weekend. Split

Brian: Minnesota holds a 5-3-2 edge over the series’ last 10 games but North Dakota is 6-3-1 vs. the Gophers in the most recent 10 at Ralph Engelstad Arena. The last time Minnesota traveled to Grand Forks holding a double-digit lead in the rankings, No. 17 UND swept the seventh-ranked Gophers (5-3, 7-3) on Jan. 9-10, 2009. Neither team has swept a four-game season series since Minnesota managed the feat in 1991-92 (4-2, 8-2 in Mpls.; 10-1, 5-3 in GF) and it won’t happen this year either. North Dakota, winners of seven of its past nine (7-1-1) games, sweeps the series.

St. Cloud State (8-10-4, 5-6-3 WCHA) at No. 8 Colorado College (12-7-1, 9-5-0 WCHA)

Tyler: he Huskies lost two forwards (Cam Reid and Mitch MacMillan) over the break and even though the departure of Reid, one of SCSU’s top two wingers, will have more of an immediate effect, the loss of two forwards will drastically harm SCSU’s depth at forward. The Huskies have 12 healthy forwards and are still awaiting the return of forward and biggest offensive threat, Drew LeBlanc. CC, on the other hand, is very deep at forward and the Tigers will sweep.

Brian: I look for plenty of offensive action in this series as each team allows over 31 shots on goal per game in conference play and neither team’s penalty kill unit cracks the nation’s top 40 this week.  But while the Tigers have a 44-31-6 cushion in the overall series and the Huskies are just 2-7-1 on the road this season, St. Cloud State is 11-12-2 (.480) in 25 games at the World Arena. I’ll call it a split here.

Bemidji State (11-9-2, 5-7-2 WCHA) at No. 16 Denver (11-8-3, 6-5-3 WCHA)

Tyler:  Think the loss to Alabama-Huntsville didn’t wake Denver up? The Pioneers will get a huge boost this weekend should Jason Zucker be in town. DU sweep.

Brian: Bemidji State’s conference-leading penalty kill has been outstanding of late having allowed only one goal since Dec. 2 Like North Dakota, the Beavers are 7-1-1 in their last nine games including a 2-1 win over Denver at the Sanford Center on Dec. 10. The Pioneers are 3-1 since that loss but the one, a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Alabama Huntsville, was a big one and dropped DU from the top 15 for the first time in nearly six years. Jason Zucker’s return should provide Denver a lift and the Pioneers have never lost to BSU at home. They’ve burned me enough this year, but here goes nothing: DU sweep.

Wisconsin (9-9-2, 4-8-2 WCHA) at Minnesota State (6-15-1, 2-11-1 WCHA)

Tyler: Only one WCHA win for MSU at the Verizon Wireless Center this season and No. 2 will be this weekend. The Mavericks are weak offensively, but they face a bad goaltending duo in Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel. That’s enough to keep the Mavericks in this series and they come away with a split.

Brian: The Badgers are getting healthy again with the recent return of junior forward Derek Lee and this weekend’s expected return of fellow junior forward, and assistant captain, Ryan Little. UW swept a hot R.I.T. team last weekend while MSU split with St. Lawrence and came home with its sixth on-goal loss of the season. Wisconsin leads the series 22-14-4 and has won four straight over Minnesota State. The Badgers are winless on the road this season (0-5-1) and are eager to end that streak. I think it will. Split.

Alaska Anchorage (6-10-2, 3-10-1 WCHA) at Michigan Tech (9-11-1, 6-7-1 WCHA)

Tyler: The Seawolves lost their top scorer in Mickey Spencer, who left the team this week although the reasons for his departure or where he’s headed are yet to be determined. The good news is that the Seawolves are getting five players back from injuries this weekend. And with Spencer gone, UAA really doesn’t lose much. He had just 10 points on a team that struggled offensively in which six other players have eight or more points and six of Spencer’s points came in the first weekend of the season. I’m not selling hope for UAA. I’m just saying Spencer’s leaving isn’t a huge blow to the Seawolves. If anything, it will inspire his former teammates. Tech is still the better team in this one but the Seawolves skate away with a win. Split

Brian: The Seawolves return from a 33-day break only to make the never-easy trip to Houghton to face a Michigan Tech team without the services of their leading goal scorer. The teams are 4-4-2 in the last 10 meetings, but UAA holds a 9-5-6 advantage in the past 20 meetings between the teams. Since beating Minnesota in overtime on Dec. 9, the Huskies have lost four straight while the Seawolves are 1-3-0 over the same span. I think the long layoff and the loss of a relatively significant offensive threat will work against Alaska-Anchorage and Michigan Tech sweeps here.

44 COMMENTS

  1. UNO has not been swept at home by anybody in the whole of the Blais era and they haven’t been swept at home at all since ’08. Their record at home under Blais is nothing short of sterling.

    Comparing the environment at UNO’s Centurylink Center (upwards of 17,000 fans will be at Friday night’s game in an NHL/college atmosphere) and that at Lawson (seats under 4,000) is apples and oranges to the extreme.

    If UMD can sweep, they’ll make a believer out of me, but, I don’t see it happening. UNO also has a great equalizer on their bench, standing behind their players, too. If anybody knows, Sandelin, it’s him.

    That said, UNO’s “goalie of the week” thing, the loss of Alex Hudson (kicked off the team) the injury to Andres Sustr, and the line jockeying…………hmmmm….we’ll see.

    • Not like it matters but I’m gonna have to agree with this guy, Blais is already pissed from the WJHC and I’m guessing he will have UNO ready to play this weekend… I’m calling a split for sure!

  2. DU is 4 – 2 since the Bemidji series not 3 – 1,  c’mon guys.  I say split.  Huntsville exposed more than arrogance with the Pioneers.  DU doesn’t have any leadership. Granted DU has been playing with a 3rd string goalie (who I think may actually be better than Howard) and has several key injuries. 

    • No excuses here on the 3-1 thing. I just looked at the schedule/results and for the life of me can’t figure out where I got 3-1. Must do these things when I’m slightly more lucid in the future.

  3. BU and Merrimack will battle it out for 1st/2nd…Merrimack takes Crown with Goaltending…BC finishes 3rd  and UML sneaks in @ 4th then 5th thru 8th could change every weekend…surprise team for the QF’s UML….only team on the outs Vermont. More or Less a Weaker Hockey East this year from Top to Bottom.

  4. Wow, keep underestimating UMaine Black Bears.  Thanks for building their egos just makes our victories all the SWEETER! GO BLUE! ! ! !

  5. Maine at Boston University
    Dave’s pick: Note to Maine fans – this is not a condemnation of your team; it’s an endorsement of BU.It’s a shame your team got swept, do you ever wish you knew more about college hockey?  Nice call Jim, thanks.
    Maine, Downeast

  6. No mention of Maine sweeping the #1 team in the Pairwise?! You’re all impressed with your polls.  Look to College Hockey News for more balanced coverage of college hockey.

  7. Dave what are you going to say this week to deminash Maines sweep of BU? Last week you already blamed a ref for getting in the way, and gave no credit for an overtime win, so don’t use those again. You might have to say that the goaltending is better then what you have been saying, and that maybe Maine has improved with its neutral zone play and not turning the puck over that was giving odd man rushes and that is why they had a bad start to the season.

    • i think dave might suggest the refs screwed poor ole BU…and of course jakie parker was unfairly tossed for merely making polite conversation with officials.  maybe the ice had been imported from sebago lake?!?!?

  8. Is it possible to rename the Tsongas Center????

    Kryptonite Arena is sounds simply amazing. Oh… and rough weekend on the predictions guys.

  9. For those who have not seen the Bears all year and seen their progress as a team, keep thinking they won’t do anything.  I have seen the growth – they are beginning their peak.
    bearfan1943

  10. What are the expansion plans? Is Arizona a possibility, are other schools seriously interested in adding hockey? The attendance for the playoffs has been poor so what ideas do they have to make it better? Are there any other proposals in the works like the current age proposal? Specifically have they ever considered proposing to put an age limit on when you can start recruiting a kid?

  11. The big ten conference needs more teams and unfortunately when Penn State came in it broke up some great rivalries such as Minn vs ND-Mich vs Notre Dame and others. Those rivalries are missing and the big ten should of bypassed rules of if a school was in big ten sports as could of gotten several teams from the nchc–wcha and old teams from the ccha. As a result the big ten is not that strong in Hockey and that should be addressed. Also get rid of the shootout all together as the 3 on 3 is exciting and if no winner then just have a tie like hockey East. Expand the time for the overtime from 5 minutes to a full period of 20 Minutes. If you don’t want ties then just play until a winner. Also you might have the big ten tournament in a smaller venue like yost arena or others as the joe and st paul won’t draw the same as for example the old wcha tournament. The fan base in these areas is not as large as others and not the same passion. The only thing that did work out is that my minnesota and my wifes Michigan are in the same conference and play eachother more which is good.

  12. The Joe Louis-Xcel tournament system ends it’s first contract run next year. What are the tourney location plans after that? Staying with the rotation, keeping it only in Hockeytown/’state of hockey’, taking it to other cities, moving it to another city…?

  13. Any chance of adding northeastern schools to the B10, like Harvard, BU, Princeton, Cornell, Rutgers, etc? Any SEC schools interested, say Tennessee?

  14. My questions being-1. Will you get more teams in the big 10 conference or are you basing it only if they belong to the big 10 conference-It definitely needs more teams. 2. Can you get rid of the shootout and just play overtime–and expand the ot.
    3. finally can you get the big 10 tournament in smaller arenas–as it won’t work at the Joe and others like the old wcha at the excel center that did work because of that conference.

  15. LOL

    “I’m leaning toward an Omaha sweep here……………

    ……….and then in the very next sentence goes on to actually predict a UML sweep. Wishy-washy much?

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