Paula's picks: Jan. 11, 2013

Talk about rock bottom.
Tuesday: 0-2 (.000)
Season to date: 73-51-21 (.576)

This week

There are five conference series this weekend. Bowling Green is idle. All series are Friday-Saturday and everything is Eastern Standard Time.
Alaska at Michigan. The Nanooks have been off for a month and the Wolverines probably wish they’d been. Alaska’s last games were Dec. 7-8, a home series against Bowling Green that resulted in a 3-2 loss and 3-3 tie. The Nanooks begin the second half of the season trying to break a seven game winless streak (0-5-2); their last win was a 6-1 home victory over Western Michigan Nov. 16. The Nanooks have picked up a blueliner for the second half of the season, freshman Richard Coyne. The Wolverines lost 5-1 to Bowling Green at home Tuesday night after losing 5-3 to the U.S. Under-18 Team the previous Friday. With all due respect to the winners in those contests, the Wolverines looked as though they were playing utterly without heart in each game. Between those two losses, the one to BGSU is the only one that counts for anything, but even with that UM has a better record at home (6-6-0) and so may have a chance this weekend. These teams are tied in the standings with 16 points each and an even number of games remaining; each is five points behind Lake Superior State and three ahead of BGSU and Michigan State, tied behind them. The Nanooks and Wolverines split in Fairbanks in early December. The puck drops at 7:35 p.m. each night and Saturday’s game is carried by FOX Sports Detroit PLUS. Alaska 3-2, 4-2
Lake Superior State at No. 10 Western Michigan. Last weekend, the Lakers hosted Union for two games and beat the Dutchmen soundly, 4-1 and 3-1. Kevin Kapalka had the first win, Kevin Murdoch the second — and the rotation of those two junior goaltenders is a big reason why the Lakers have won five games in a row, their longest win streak since the 2009-10 season. On the road last weekend, the Broncos defeated Bemidji State 6-0 before tying the Beavers 2-2. The shutout was the third of the season for sophomore Frank Slubowski and the fifth of his career. These teams split a pair of regular-season games in Sault Ste. Marie last season, but the Broncos swept the Lakers in the second round of CCHA playoff action (Mar. 9-10) in Kalamazoo. The Broncos have lost just once at home this season. Games begin each night at 7:05 p.m. WMU 4-2, LSSU 2-1
No. 6 Miami at Northern Michigan. The RedHawks last played in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh Dec. 28-29, beating Ohio State 1-0 before losing to host Robert Morris 1-0 in the title game. Miami ended the first half of the season with a sweep of OSU and in the second game of that set, the RedHawks scored three goals. That was the only game in which the RedHawks netted more than one goal in their last five games, and they were shut out in two in that stretch during which they went 2-2-1. The Wildcats successfully defended the realm last weekend when they traveled to St. Cloud and swept SCSU, 6-2 and 2-1, earning their second and third road wins of the season. That 6-2 win was Walt Kyle’s 200th career victory, and senior defenseman Kyle Follmer had a goal in each game, his first two of the season. NMU was 3-1-0 versus Miami last season. Games begin at 7:35 p.m. each night. I think this series is going to split — and I guarantee I call it the wrong way. NMU 3-2, Miami 2-1
No. 2 Notre Dame at Michigan State. On Tuesday night, the Fighting Irish saw their six-game win streak snapped on the road by the top team in the country, Minnesota, a 4-1 loss. Junior Jeff Costello had the only goal for ND and junior Steven Summerhays stopped 22 shots. I was sad. This weekend, the Spartans are looking to snap a streak of their own, a three-game winless streak that dates back to the last game of the first half of the season, a Dec. 15 home win over Ferris State — a game that, in turn, snapped a six-game winless streak. Last Saturday, the Spartans played FSU again and lost, 3-0. Freshman Jake Hildebrand stopped 28 in that loss. The Fighting Irish and Spartans have a 112-game history with MSU leading the series 60-41-11; ND is 1-0-2 in the last three meetings in East Lansing. Games begin at 7:05 p.m. each night and Friday’s game is being carried by Comcast. ND 3-2, 3-2
Ohio State at Ferris State. The Buckeyes last played in the Three Rivers Classic, losing 1-0 to Miami and 5-4 to Penn State. OSU’s current winless (0-4-2) streak dates back to Dec. 1, a 3-1 road win over MSU. Senior goaltender Brady Hjelle (pronounced “jelly,” which still makes me smile) is first in the country in goals against (1.43) and third in save percentage (.951). His CCHA goals-against average is 0.79. Seriously. Last weekend, the Bulldogs beat the Spartans at home, 3-0. Sophomore C.J. Motte stopped 23 in his third shutout of the season. FSU has now won two in a row following a four-game losing streak and five winless games (0-4-1), a streak that spanned the month of December. Last year, the teams met in Columbus (Jan. 20-21, 2012), when the Bulldogs took five of six points with a 4-3 win and 3-3 tie with the extra shootout point. These teams are tied for fourth place in the CCHA standings, each with 22 points; the Buckeyes have two games in hand over the Bulldogs. They’re both four points behind third-place Western Michigan and one point ahead of fifth-place Lake Superior. The Bulldogs are better at home (5-2-2) and the Buckeyes are better on the road (5-3-3). Watch them split the opposite of how I’m calling it. These big games begin at 7:05 p.m. each night. FSU 3-1, OSU 2-1.