WCHA picks: Feb. 24-25

No. 6 Minnesota (21-11-1, 17-7-0 WCHA) at Nebraska-Omaha (14-12-6, 11-8-5 WCHA)

Tyler: Minnesota’s speed and skill is capable of overmatching Nebraska-Omaha in a time when the Gophers power play is clicking. The PP has scored six goals on 19 chances over the past five games and has scored once in each of the last five games. No team in the WCHA matchesMinnesota’s depth at forward and clearly has the advantage over a UNO team that’s been thin up front all season. Ryan Massa is the X-factor and gives UNO a chance in this series. Minny sweep

Brian:  The stats say Minnesota is better offensively, defensively, in goal, and has an overall edge in special teams. With 15 points (7 goals, 8 assists) in their last six games, the Haula-Hansen-Warning line is has seemingly rediscovered its scoring touch. But the Gophers are 7-6-1 (.536) on the road and haven’t swept a road series since October. The Mavs, on the other hand, want nothing more than to hang on to home ice for the playoffs and Massa always gives UNO a chance to win, especially at home. This will likely bite me in the behind but … split.


No. 16 Colorado College (16-12-2, 13-10-1 WCHA) at No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth (20-7-5, 14-6-4 WCHA)

Tyler: The Bulldogs need a big sweep to get back on track after weeks of struggling against teams they should beat. JT Brown returned to practice this week and if he’s good to go, will help UMD against a CC team that’s given up a lot of goals the past few weeks. Joe Howe has been cold all season for the Tigers and Josh Thorimbert looked shaky last weekend against Nebraska-Omaha. UMD has the advantage, predicting a sweep

Brian:  Like North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha, Colorado College finds itself just three points out of third place in the WCHA; but also only three points out of seventh. With home ice already secured for UMD, CC has a bit more to play for at this point despite the Bulldogs’ chase for the MacNaughton Cup. With J.T. Brown’s availability uncertain as I type this, I see a split.


Alaska Fairbanks (11-17-4, 8-16-4-2 CCHA) at Alaska-Anchorage (8-20-2, 5-20-1 WCHA) – Home-and-home

Tyler: Neither team really has a whole lot of punch but the Nanooks have hung with and beat some of the CCHA’s best teams and should have the upper hand in this one. Alaska sweep

Brian: If you don’t think this series is huge, think again. This is the battle for supremacy of a state so enormous that its land mass could blanket an area covering the entire rest of the WCHA. The Governor’s Cup competition is the arctic equivalent of Denver/Colorado College or Minnesota/North Dakota. While Dave Shyiak is 10-6-2 vs. UAF in his tenure atAnchorage and the Seawolves have won seven of the last 11 meetings (7-3-1), the Nanooks have won three of the last four in the series (3-1-0) and have had possession of the Governor’s Cup in 10 of the 18 years of its existence. It’s a split this year.


Wisconsin (13-15-2, 8-14-2 WCHA) at Bemidji State (15-14-3, 9-12-3 WCHA)

Tyler:  The Badgers had a nice showing Saturday againstDenver at theKohlCenter butWisconsin has been an awful road team this season. Meanwhile, before the Beavers got swept last weekend atMinnesota, BSU earned seven of eight possible points in the two weeks prior. The Beavers return home where they are 11-4-1 this season. BSU sweep

Brian: The Beavers are awfully tough at home and the Badgers have struggled (1-8-1) on the road, although they’ve been outscored by a total of 15 goals in those 10 games. But it is UW’s first visit to the unfriendly confines of the Sanford Center in what should be an emotional final weekend at home for BSU’s seniors. Bemidji State sweep.


St. Cloud State (13-15-4, 10-11-3 WCHA) at Michigan Tech (13-15-4, 10-10-4 WCHA)

Tyler: Whichever team comes out on top this weekend still has a shot to earn home ice in the first week of the WCHA Playoffs. SCSU is a better team offensively with the edge in goaltending but Tech has the advantage on special teams. Split

Brian: AlthoughSt. CloudState’s road record is 5-9-1, SCSU has won three of its last four away from theGranite City. Michigan Tech is 8-5-2 at home but is 1-3-2 since its three-point weekend inDuluth including a disappointing loss and tie against Nebraska-Omaha two weeks ago on Winter Carnival weekend. With postseason home ice still in play, this series should be played hard and fast with plenty of rubber flying as each team allows over 30 shots per game. Although with the split I’m predicting I don’t see either team gaining much ground.


No. 14 North Dakota (17-11-3, 13-10-1 WCHA) at No. 9 Denver (18-10-4, 13-7-4 WCHA)

Tyler: This one may look like a neutral-site game when Magness Arena is more than sprinkled with green this weekend because UND always has plenty of fans at Denver. It’s a possible WCHA Final Five Championship preview with both teams on roll right now. If Brad Eidsness has to start in goal for UND this weekend, that’s fine. He’s done a superb job this season filling in for Aaron Dell. Split

Brian: The Pioneers are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games but are coming off of a 5-2 loss to 10th place Wisconsin.North Dakota, meanwhile, is 8-3-2 since the break including 5-1-1 in its last seven. AlthoughDenver has the edge in the last 10 meetings (5-4-1) UND has won four of the last five in the series. The stakes being what they are withNorth Dakota trailing DU by three points and only up by three on Michigan Tech for the final home ice spot, a sweep will be tough to pull off in this one. I’m going with a split.