MCHA/MIAC/NCHA picks: Feb. 24

The first round of the MIAC and MCHA playoffs begins this weekend, as the NCHA plays its semifinal round this weekend.
MCHA teams begin play for the Harris Cup. The first round will feature Finlandia traveling to Lawrence in the North Division, while Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) hosts Lake Forest in the South Division.
The MIAC playoffs begin on Thursday, as last year’s regular season and tournament champion Hamline goes on the road against St. Olaf to try to collect two consecutive tournament titles. On Saturday, St. Thomas will play the winner of the Hamline/St. Olaf game, while St. John’s will take on Gustavus Adolphus in the other MIAC semifinal match.
The semifinal round of the Peters Cup will feature this year’s Cinderella team, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, as it tries to continue its winning ways against St. Norbert. Wisconsin-Stevens Point will take on St. Scholastica in the other semifinal series.
I went 4-6 last week, which makes my season record 52-36, a .692 percentage.
{Predicted winners bolded}
Friday, February 24, 2012
Finlandia at Lawrence
The two teams met just two weeks ago at Lawrence, with Lawrence earning the sweep. Lawrence is 3-1 against Finlandia this season, and is 7-2-1 at home overall. Finlandia has a 2-12 road record.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Wis.-Eau Claire at St. Norbert
Wis.-Eau Claire is 0-3 against St. Norbert during this campaign, but two of those games were one-goal games. The last game, St. Norbert had to come back from a 4-2 deficit to win 5-4. St. Norbert is on a quest for a third straight Peters Cup, and is 43-4-3 all time against Wis.-Eau Claire
Wis.-Stevens Point at St. Scholastica
Both teams had difficult series last weekend, as St. Scholastica tied and the defeated Wisconsin-Stout in overtime. The series between Wis.-Stevens Point and Wisconsin-Superior went to an overtime mini-game. The season series is tied at 1-1-1, with Wis.-Steven Point winning the last game a few weeks ago by a 2-1 margin. St. Scholastica has the best NCHA power play this season, scoring on 27.7 percent of its opportunities, while Wis.-Stevens Point has committed the most penalties in the league.
St. John’s at Gustavus Adolphus
The season series between the two teams is deadlocked at 1-1-1. St. John’s began its second-half surge with a 4-3 win at Gustavus on Jan. 14. From there, St. John’s went on to win its next four games and went 8-3 to finish out the regular season and capture the third seed in the MIAC playoffs. St. John’s has the most effective power play in the MIAC during the regular season. Gustavus is 7-2-3 since the beginning of January, and came from behind twice last weekend against St. Olaf and overcame a 3-0 deficit in its earlier win over St. John’s.
Hamline/St. Olaf at St. Thomas
During St. Thomas’ 11-game winning streak, both Hamline and St. Olaf took St. Thomas to overtime. Hamline did it twice. Even the non-overtime games were decided by a goal between the combatants. So, it is likely St. Thomas does not have a preference as to who wins Thursday’s game between the two. It will be in for a tough test, but a familiar one. St. Thomas is 8-4 in one-goal games this season.  Either opponent will have a solid senior goaltender in St. Olaf’s Ben Leis or Hamline’s Beau Christian. Both teams also have experienced offensive players in Peter Rohn and Charlie Rasckob for St. Olaf, while Hamline has Brian Arrigoni and Jordan VanGuilder and St. Thomas has Brian Bahnemann, Riley Horgan and Rob Philipp leading it offensively.
Lake Forest at MSOE
MSOE went 4-0 against Lake Forest this season, which included one shutout in January. Lake Forest has the worst offensive production in the MCHA, while MSOE has the best defense in the league.