WCHA Picks: Feb. 10-11

Nebraska-Omaha (12-11-5, 9-7-4 WCHA) at Michigan Tech (13-13-2, 10-8-2 WCHA)

Tyler:  The hotels will be full in Houghton this weekend with the annual Winter Carnival, but the Mavericks won’t be lodging in them. UNO will stay 45 minutes away in Baraga, Mich., according to the Omaha World Herald. The Huskies haven’t exactly derived any kind of an edge in recent Carnivals, going 1-4-3 since 2007-08 on the particular weekend but, obviously, this is a different Tech team than in recent years. UNO goalie Ryan Massa’s going to bounce back from a 6-4 loss to BSU last weekend and quiet the Huskies, at least one game. Points are huge in this series. Both teams have 20 and both are teetering on the edge of home-ice advantage for the playoffs. Those points will be split.

Brian:  Things should be raucous at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena this weekend’s Winter Carnival in Houghton. There might be a couple of goals scored in this series as MTU ranks 13th in the nation in scoring offense while UNO comes in at a tie for 21st. On the flip side of this two-headed coin, both teams are tied for 39th in scoring defense. The Mavs arejust under .500 on the road this season and find a way to earn a split.

No. 2 Minnesota (19-9-1, 15-5-0 WCHA) at No. 14 Denver (15-9-4, 10-6-4 WCHA)

Tyler: This is the big one of the weekend: Denver at home vs. Minnesota, the top team in the standings in a battle of two top-tier goaltenders. Kent Patterson has the edge over Sam Brittain who’s just getting back from a six-month recovery from surgery. The Pioneers went through a 7-1-0 stretch but against weaker teams and included a loss to Alabama-Huntsville. When Denver faced a better team like CC, they couldn’t score. Of course, that was against the Josh Thorimbert wall, but Patterson won’t be easy to score on either, and Brittain will surely be tested by the nation’s best group of scorers. Minnesota sweep

Brian:  The teams last faced each other almost exactly a year ago at Mariucci Arena when a freshman goaltender named Sam Brittain stood on his head for 36 saves in a 2-1 DU win on Friday but was yanked 33 seconds into Saturday’s game after coughing up four goals on 12 shots in a 7-3 loss. Brittain is back after offseason knee surgery and may see back-to-back starts this weekend for the first time since his return. DU has won eight of the last 10 (8-2-0) overall in the series and is 4-1-1 in the last six games at home against the Gophers but I see a split here.

Minnesota State (10-19-1, 6-15-1 WCHA) at Alaska-Anchorage (7-17-2, 4-17-1 WCHA)

Tyler:   Both teams have bad offenses and are even worse on defense. Something has to give. The Mavericks are scoring around a goal ever four power plays and the Seawolves penalty kill is 47th in the nation but the Mavericks aren’t going to sweep. Split

Brian: The series is even at 4-4-2 in the last 10 but UAA unbeaten (3-0-2) in its last five meetings with MSU. The teams combined for 19 goals when they met in November in Mankato where the Seawolves returned to Alaska with three points.  However, the Mavericks were pretty banged up at that time and are 7-7-0 in their last 14 while splitting their last five series. I’m taking the split.

No. 16 North Dakota (15-10-2, 11-9-0 WCHA) at No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth (18-6-4, 12-5-3 WCHA) 

Tyler:  UND is hot right now with a 7-2-1 record in its last 10 and the Bulldogs (3-3-1 since their streak was snapped) are stumbling. Since the unbeaten streak was snapped, UMD has scored twice in 24 tries on the power play, the penalty kill is 68 percent and they’ve scored only seven times after the first period. UND shut their opponents out in the third period six out of the last 10 games and killed 88.2 percent of its penalties. The Bulldogs know the situation this weekend and maybe they’ve fallen asleep against teams they figured would make for easy wins. Expect a revived UMD team but a UND squad that isn’t looking to slow down, either. Split

Brian: The Fighting Sioux have won six of the last eight meetings including spoiling last season’s Amsoil Arena opening game in which UND shut out the Bulldogs 5-0. The battle of the nation’s top-ranked scoring offense (3.75 goals per game) vs. the 30th-ranked (2.78) defense will be interesting as will how UND’s superior special teams play will be. The teams split what should be a great series.

No. 10 Colorado College (15-9-2, 12-7-1 WCHA) at Bemidji State (13-12-3, 7-10-3 WCHA)

Tyler:   Although they’ve been having trouble offensively lately, the Tigers have the talent up front to score a lot of goals. BSU has won a couple of shootouts this season but CC goaltender Josh Thorimbert is on fire right now, allowing just six goals in his last five starts and will make scoring tough for the Beavers. CC sweep.

Brian: This weekend marks just the third and fourth meetings between the two teams in Bemidji where the Beavers hold a 1-0-1 edge but the Tigers lead the overall series 5-2-1 including a sweep of BSU at World Arena in October. Although the Beavers put up a half dozen on Nebraska-Omaha last Saturday, BSU averaged just two goals per game over its previous six contests. Something to keep an eye on is CC’s ninth-ranked power play (22.69 percent) taking on Bemidji State’s 10th-ranked penalty kill (85.0 percent). CC sweeps this one.