WCHA Picks: Jan. 18

No. 6 North Dakota at No. 1 Minnesota

Joe: This series should bring out the best in both teams. That bodes well for UND, which did not put together a full 60 minutes each night against Holy Cross and Colorado College.  North Dakota will have to play its best to beat Minnesota, which it will at least one night. Let the trolling begin because neither side will like this pick: Split.

Tyler: There is no doubt this will be the most entertaining series of the season throughout the league. It often is, but this weekend is different. Barring encounters in NCAA tournament play, UND and Minnesota won’t see each other for a few years after Saturday. A big key this weekend will be which team can harness its emotion, buckle down and play smart. UND’s top line needs to group that crack Adam Wilcox and Minnesota’s stingy defense, which few teams have been able to do this season but Alaska-Anchorage was able to with three goals last Friday. The Gophers have an edge with a balanced attack and solid ‘D’, but UND is going to find a way to win one of these games. Split

No. 7 Denver at No. 19 St. Cloud State

Joe: SCSU is at home but that has not translated into a strong start to the second half of the season with a 1-3 mark against RPI and Northern Michigan.  That is less than impressive, unlike the performance of DU sophomore goalie Juho Olkinuora. He makes the difference as Denver leaves with three points.

Tyler: Olkinuora has been solid as a rock all season and the Pioneers offense came around after the break. That works well in Denver’s favor going into St. Cloud, where the Huskies have been awfully inconsistent all season. SCSU went 3-1 against Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College in the two home series before break and went 1-3 against RPI and UNM. I think SCSU is too talented of a team with guys on every line that can produce for these struggles to continue. Split

No. 8 Miami at Wisconsin

Joe: Miami’s offense is not all that productive, especially in the first period when the RedHawks have gone scoreless the past four games.  That gives the Badgers a chance to play with a lead, especially beneficial for a team playing sound defense. Badgers could sweep, but Miami should pull one game out with its good goaltending. Split.

Tyler: Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but I really like Wisconsin’s chances in this nonconference series because of its defense. Both teams have top-10 defenses and below-average offenses. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are less than 10 combined goals this weekend. The Badgers’ ‘D’ shut down potent offenses all season and have found ways to win close games and this weekend their going against a Redhawks attack that’s struggling. I’m taking Wisconsin in a sweep at home.

No. 14 Minnesota State at Alaska-Anchorage

Joe: The purple Mavs came down to earth a bit with two home overtime losses to Wisconsin. MSU will come out firing on Friday but I expect to see UAA come back on Saturday. Split.

Tyler: MSU has the edge talent-wise but he Mavericks must stay focused on burying the Seawolves early if they want to leave with a sweep. Teams like Minnesota and St. Cloud State left points on the table when their offenses looked inept at times in November series in November. UAA has proven, on a few occasions this winter, they can steal points when teams let them hang around. The Seawolves came close in a 4-3 loss at Minnesota Friday. I can’t imagine MSU taking much for granted after losing twice in OT last weekend to Wisconsin. MSU sweep

Minnesota-Duluth at Colorado College

Joe:  Two teams looking to string together four well-played games in a row square off for their only regular-season meeting. CC’s power play is improved, which may be enough to offset the league’s worst penalty kill. Minnesota Duluth relies on its power play with 23 of its 60 goals with the man advantage. Look for the Tigers to play disciplined hockey and pick up three points.

Tyler: I think UMD’s power play/CC’s penalty kill will become a huge factor in the outcomes of this series if the Tigers don’t play disciplined. CC doesn’t take a ton of penalties but the Bulldogs are one of 12 teams to go on the power play more than 100 times this season and they take advantage at a rate of 22.8 percent (sixth-best nationally). CC was so competitive at UND last week because it got the early lead both nights and a quick start is important against UMD, a team that has scored 28 first-period goals this season. Split

Bemidji State at Michigan Tech

Joe: Like the UMD at CC series, this is another two games both teams could really use a sweep and a chance to get back into home playoff contention. In Houghton, the Huskies should get three points.

Tyler: This weekend has the recipe for Pheonix Copley to bounce back after a bad five-goal game Saturday night. He stopped 111 of 112 shots in three straight games leading into Saturday’s 5-4 loss to UMD, but BSU’s offense has its struggles. Copley will need the goal support, though, against a Beavers defense that can frustrate teams. Tech sweep

 

 

 

39 COMMENTS

  1. Union:  lock it up.. no, you lock it up.. lock it up…  RPI is a stage five clinger.. time to lock it up… Union has owned them all year…

  2. I think most Union fans will agree that other than Cornell, I don’t see any of the remaining teams giving Union any trouble.  Sure, Union could drop a game here or there to any of these teams, but for the most part Cornell seems to be the only team that can go toe to toe. 

    As for this series, RPI has been hot lately but as Leggs2 stated.. Union has gone  5-1, 5-2 and 5-1 vs. RPI.. this year – that’s pretty much domination.  The two weeks off has to be helpful to Grosenick’s ailing ankle, which no one seems to be talking about…

    The last game with Cornell was a battle.  As a Union fan, I’d like to see a Cornell vs. Union final.. It would be a great game and a true test for two the best.  I’d guess we’d see both teams getting in NCAAs if Cornell wins.

    • Dear Union Fans:
      I hope the team is as overconfident as you. That served you well against #12 Colgate last year.

      Respectfully,
      The Underdogs

      • Maybe it’s too early, but should I get the First Class flight to Tampa, or settle for peanuts and soft drinks in Coach?  Those seats behind the curtain are just so cramped…

        Union Tampa (Student during the dark, lean years of D-I Union Hockey)

        • Well, you’re right about one thing: the “Maybe it’s too early” part.

          Ever heard the phrase “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”? If the actual Union team and coach are taking their competition seriously, maybe the fans should, too. There are still anywhere from 6 to some teens-number of games before you should bother fueling the plane, or whatever other jump-the-gun jargon you’ve come up with.

          Respectfully,
          The college hockey fans who realize that the ECAC is full of parity and that Union was well-rested last year before they took on #12 Colgate, too

          • In all seriousness, I wonder what impact final exams have on the Union team for the annual ECAC tourney.  Union finals are next week; they still have a trimester-based system (one of the few in the world).  Finals occur every year in the middle or end of the ECAC tourney (good planning).  I remember being hunkered down in the library for a week, with my team practices minimized or cut out completely in the 90’s.

            Last year v. Colgate was the same deal.  I remember coach Leaman saying in an interview that 2011 practices were off or minimized until exams were over.  Then the Colgate “miracle on ice” occurred … coincidence? 

            Could be a rust issue getting back on the ice – academics are still front burner at Union.  Priorities are in the right place, but it’s bad timing or planning, perhaps.

          •  And RPI is having midterms now, boo hoo. I still had practices and meets during finals. I think either States or ECACs made me have to take a final in the hotel one year because it was a 3 day meet. If I survived playing 2 sports as an electrical engineering major with 2 minors, I think the Union players can manage their studies as english majors…

    • This is the perfect example of what happens on this board… MN fan complains about UND fans complaining about hockey picks. One fan base is complaining about the other fan base while the other fan base is complaining about hockey.

      • Reed, I see you post a lot and you seem pretty knowledgable on UND hockey. What is your take in this years UND team? Overachieving, underachieving or what was expected? Just a curious Gopher fan trying to get some insight from the other side.

        • I think they are ranked about right where they should be. I think they are uncharacteristically soft with their defense this year. With the way calls are going against the big hitters these days everybody needs to change, UND also has a new assistant coach this year running the defense, so that might be part of it as well. I think the biggest difference between the UofM and UND last night was the goaltenders. I’m not sold on Saunders, he lets up some really juicy rebounds and doesn’t make all the saves you would expect from a good D1 team. For the record, I think Wilcox is a good goalie, but I don’t think you really know what you have with him as your team D is so good he hasn’t been tested.

          I think any team in the top ten if they get hot at the right time can win it all. You have a hot team now, I just don’t know if the Gophers can keep it up all the way to the tournament. It should be a great end to the season.

  3. Hey, Joe Paisley, this is your official “I told you so.” MN is number one in the WCHA. Simple addition made it possible. Good writeup on 12/31/12.

    Dear future WCHA: Please keep Joe Paisley and the other WCHA writers from this website. The Big Ten Hockey Conference and its fans do not want them. Ever.

    Also, please keep Derek Shepard and all other WCHA referees and linesmen. We don’t want them either.

    Sincerely,
    All Sane Hockey Fans

  4. Well, if Bazin doesn’t win both the HE COY and Spenser Penrose this year, then exactly what must a coach do to win those awards?! This team won 5 games the year before he took over. 5. Good grief –

    • If UML beats Maine in the qtr. final then I think it’s possible he may take both. However, if Maine beats UML, which could happen, then that would be 2 successive HE qtr. finals where UML has lost to a lower seed. It would be tough for him to get the Penrose after that. PC’s Leaman may also be given due consideration for HE COY this year as well, though I agree Bazin deserves it again.

  5. 1. Congratulations to UMass-Lowell and its fans. This BU alum cannot say that enough. Congratulations for your well-deserved title. I also hope there is a HE Coach of the Year heading to Tsongas.

    2. Thanks again to Coach Parker for all the hockey memories. 2009 in DC was such a great thing to see live. As for Merrimack, I hope it is 5-0 for BU, even if it does mean Merrimack falls out of the TUC. I would like to see Jack Parker lead the Terriers once more to the Garden.

    3. Five games between BC and Vermont sound like fun. Go Catamounts!

  6. Black Bears thoroughly outplayed UNH in both games this weekend, they probably won’t be an easy out, they’ll make Lowell work for it.

    Of course, UNH played their worst hockey all season. They struggled against PC this season, and they are playing pretty putrid right now. I can’t see them getting inspired enough to muster up a first round win at Providence.

      • True, but if you are consistently ranked in the top 5 (now top 10 after that embarrassment against Maine) you shouldn’t be struggling with PC like that. A bad game is one thing, but in 2 of their games against PC they got thoroughly outplayed, and they only mustered a tie out of one game by chance. They also got outclassed by Merrimack, barely showed up to play against UMass, and played even with BC. Those three wins against Lowell from November, plus the decent early season games against St Cloud, Denver, and Colorado are all that are keeping this team afloat in the rankings.

        • I don’t know. PC very well could have finished as #1 this year. Granted I wanted lowell to win as of this past weekend because it favored BU given how other results were turning out. This year is a total mess with regards to hockey east and national rankings. There is so much of a difference between national rankings and league rankings. I know that the PWR and TUC come into play but considering how close HE was from 1-5 and how PC could have been #1 but is coming in at #17, it just feels scattered.

          • A lot of the national rankings come from the non-con schedule. UNH played a strong non-con schedule and went 5-1-1. PC didn’t play as strong as one (though QU ended up being the #1, it wasn’t so at the time), and they went 2-4-1 with wins only against Sacred Heart and Brown. HEA teams will play more NC games next year though with Notre Dame mucking up the schedule, since every week a HEA team will need to play either a NC opponent or take a week off down the stretch.

  7. Jim, PC and Lowell also played 5 straight last year. Just thrilled to see Lowell win this though, not just as a Lowell fan, but someone who’s (right or wrong) sick of the Big 4.

  8. Congrats to Lowell, it is quite a turnaround for the season to win the title, something to be proud of.

    Now it’s time for the BC Invitational. Lets see who’s brought their “big-boy” pants as we head into win or go home territory, and if UVM can be something more than a team that Gaudreau uses just to pad his stats.

  9. Maine may have won the season series against Lowell 2-1, but Connor Hellebuyck spent a grand total of zero seconds in goal for Lowell in those three games.

    Maine seems a little scary because they’ve been on bit of a hot streak, but that streak came against Northeastern and Amherst, the only teams who missed the playoffs, and a UNH team that had a legitimate chance to win first place (and probably should have finished in second) but instead for some reason gave away three points to a ninth-place Maine team and personally gift-wrapped Maine’s surprise bus tickets to Lowell.

    Lowell, on the other hand, has been playing out of their minds since Christmas.

  10. “But as many say, it’s difficult to beat a team four times in a season.”

    Not if you’ve beaten them 3 times already. The quoted statement is a classic misunderstanding or misapplication of probability.

    You are far less likely to beat a team 4 times in a row if you haven’t played them (because you have to win four in a row) than if you’ve already beaten them 3 times in a row (because you only have to win 1 game in order to have beaten them 4 times in a row).

    BU’s chances of beating Merrimack in the 1st round are exactly the same as Merrimack’s chances of beating BU in the 1st round. No better, no worse.

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