Nebraska-Omaha (11-9-4, 8-5-3 WCHA) at Minnesota State (7-16-1, 3-12-1 WCHA)
Tyler: The goaltending job at UNO should be Ryan Massa’s to lose going into this weekend after his last two performances, holding Quinnipiac to one goal on 25 shots and Minnesota-Duluth to one goal on 44 shots. Minnesota State’s offense is not all that explosive (2.67 goals per game, 11th in the WCHA) but I don’t think UNO has the ability to go into anyone’s barn and sweep. Split
Brian: It’s the battle for Maverick supremacy!!! Minnesota State leads the all-time series 14-9-5 but is winless in it past five meetings (0-3-2) with its Maverick counterpart. Nebraska-Omaha is coming off of a big win over UMD and this weekend is huge for goalie Ryan Massa in his effort to confirm whether he has indeed solidified UNO’s goalie situation. I think the games will be close which doesn’t bode well for MSU considering its 1-6-0 record in one-goal games. The Red Mavs eke out a pair.
No. 17 North Dakota (12-9-2, 8-8-0 WCHA) at St. Cloud State (9-11-4, 6-7-3 WCHA)
Tyler: The Huskies need to build off the National Hockey Center crowd sure to be loud, build a good-sized lead going into the third period because North Dakota has scored the third-fewest amount of goals in the WCHA after 40 minutes. UND has scored clutch third-period goals, but has yet to come back from a two-goal deficit in the third period. Both teams are banged up this weekend and though UND is suffering more from injuries, it has the edge in talent. Split
Brian: North Dakota has won six of the past eight meetings (6-1-1) after the teams split a pair in Grand Forks earlier this season and is 8-2-1 overall in its past 11 games leading into the series. UND has won three of eight conference road games but two of those came in their only road seep of the season at Alaska-Anchorage. SCSU meanwhile has lost just twice at home in WCHA play and has yet to sweep or be swept in a conference series this season. Split is written all over this one.
Alaska-Anchorage (6-12-2, 3-12-1 WCHA) at Wisconsin (10-10-2, 5-9-2 WCHA)
Tyler: Although the Seawolves put forth a more spirited effort Saturday when they had a one-goal lead in the third period, they have even less offensive firepower than they had going into Christmas break before Mickey Spencer left and Jordan Kwas became academically ineligible. Wisconsin doesn’t have the best goaltending but it’ll be good enough to quiet the Seawolves. Bucky sweep.
Brian: The Seawolves have won a couple of road games this year (Nov. 25 at Minnesota State and Dec. 9 at Colorado College) but have not been victors in Madison since a 2-1 win on March 12, 2005 and haven’t swept Wisconsin on the road in over 11 years. In fact, the Badgers have won 21 of the last 25 meetings between the teams overall (21-3-1) including 12-1-1 in the last 14. UAA has won just once in its last seven games (1-5-1) while UW is 5-2-1 in its last eight. On the bright side for the Seawolves, four of their last five WCHA series and nine of their last 12 games overall are at home. Wisconsin sweep.
Alabama-Huntsville (2-22-1) at No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth (15-4-3, 11-3-2 WCHA)
Tyler: We’ve learned to not overlook Alabama-Huntsville because they’ve already made two WCHA teams pay for doing just that. Even in their own building, the Bulldogs cannot afford to take this weekend off. They have to play this game as if it were against any other WCHA team, continue to play their game and they’ll be fine. Despite UAH’s wins against WCHA teams, UMD has had to have learned from Denver’s and UNO’s goofs. UMD sweep
Brian: How’s this for a stat? Alabama-Huntsville’s winning percentage against the WCHA is over 220 points higher than against the rest of the country (.250 vs. .029). Could Clarke Saunders roll into Amsoil Arena and drop 50+ saves on the Bulldogs to steal another W? Yes, he absolutely could but I don’t believe he will. The win, I mean, not the 50+ saves which could easily happen. Last Saturday’s streak-ending loss should have UMD focused if not a little cranky and the Chargers will be in the wrong place at the wrong time. UMD sweeps.
No. 11 Colorado College (13-8-1, 10-6-0 WCHA) at No. 4 Minnesota (16-8-1, 12-4-0 WCHA)
Tyler: This one is going to come down to special teams and who commits the bad penalties. CC has the sixth-best power play (25 percent) and Minnesota has the eighth best (23.9 percent). CC’s penalty kill is rated 45th (78.7 percent) but the Tigers are disciplined, tied for 41st nationally with an average of 12 penalty minutes per game. The Gophers are only 4-for-20 on the power play since returning from Christmas break but 3-for-12 since Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau returned to Minnesota’s PP unit. If the Tigers make a few mistakes, the Gophers could make them pay. Minny sweep.
Brian: The series features two of the top three scoring offenses in the nation but only one of the country’s top 37 defenses (Minnesota at No. 4). The big question mark for Colorado College is whether anyone but the Schwartz line can provide enough secondary scoring to keep pace with Minnesota’s depth up front. Discipline will be the key for the Gophers as they average nearly four more penalty minutes per conference game than the Tigers and they would be wise to avoid that 25 percent power-play unit as much as possible. I have my doubts that will happen, however, so I’m picking a split.
Northern Michigan (10-8-5, 6-7-5-2 CCHA) at Michigan Tech (11-11-1, 8-7-1 WCHA) Saturday only
Tyler: Josh Robinson let in some bad goals the last time these teams met when Tech’s offense was slumping. The Huskies offense found a groove, scoring 12 goals last weekend against Alaska-Anchorage and will beat the Wildcats at home.
Brian: Michigan Tech’s success at home (.708) is nearly the antithesis of NMU’s lack thereof on the road (.250). The Wildcats’ power play (89 percent) is tied for third in the country which is good considering Northern Michigan’s 18.7 penalty minutes per game is ranks fourth in the nation. In the last 12 meetings between the schools, the team leading after one period is 5-0-1 while MTU is 2-3-1 in those tied after 20 minutes. NMU’s opponents have outshot them 715-577 this season for an average of 31.1 per game. Michigan Tech’s shot total? 715. I’m looking for the Huskies to come out firing early and often and draw a few penalties. Michigan Tech wins the rematch.