NCHC picks: Oct. 18

Well, after one week, Matthew and I are tied in our picks race, as we both went 8-3-3 (.678). (Each tie counts for a half a point.) The big series happens down in Ohio, as No. 1 Miami hosts No. 6 North Dakota. Other questions abound, including whether Denver can stay hot, how Colorado College will do, etc. Remember, you have to pick the win on the correct day; Friday is listed first.

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 18-19

No. 6 North Dakota at No. 1 Miami
Candace: If I could be anywhere this weekend to see a college hockey series live, it would be Oxford for this one in what will probably be a fierce rivalry in years to come. Miami, led by Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik, has a high-flying offense. North Dakota will have to be strong defensively to earn a split in this series. This will probably be a split, but I’ll go against the grain and pick a Miami sweep. Miami 4-1, 3-2
Matthew: It’s a series like this that makes you think a computer can’t possibly just spit out a league’s composite schedule entirely at random. If you’re going to start a new conference and want to start league play with a bang, pitting two top-ten teams against each other is a pretty good way to do it. Miami was a little more impressive in its home-and-home sweep of Ohio State last weekend than UND was in getting a win and tie at home over Vermont, but until we have bigger sample sizes from both teams, it’s tough to pick anything other than a split here. Miami 4-1, North Dakota 3-1

No. 20 Minnesota-Duluth at Colorado College
Candace: Very little separates these two squads. CC has looked good in its preseason games, but can the Tigers keep it up in conference play? Despite some of their losses to graduation, I don’t think CC is going to be as middling as some people expect. Everything will come down to defense in this one. This has split written all over it. Colorado College 3-1, Minnesota-Duluth 3-2
Matthew: A lot of people undervalued UMD going into this season, but, as I said on USCHO Live a couple weeks ago, I feel that the fourth through eighth spots in the preseason rankings were interchangeable to a degree, and I still believe that. The Bulldogs really came to play against Michigan Tech in Duluth on opening weekend, but now they travel to a Colorado College team that will be keen to impress in its own home opener. Both of these teams could really surprise people this season, and I feel this two-game series has “split” written all over it. Colorado College 4-2, Minnesota-Duluth 3-1

Nebraska-Omaha at Northern Michigan
Candace: Nebraska-Omaha looked fairly poor last weekend at home while opening against Bentley, losing the first game and having to rally in the second to split the series. Will they come out that flat again? Chances are now, but it’s really hard to guess which night they’ll win. Northern Michigan looked pretty good in Madison last week in two losses to Wisconsin. I really have no idea how to call this one. Nebraska-Omaha 4-2, Northern Michigan 3-2
Matthew: UNO has lost each of its last four games at NMU. Since then, however, thanks to good results at former WCHA rival Michigan Tech, the Mavericks have won three in a row in the Upper Peninsula and are unbeaten in their last four games above the Mackinac Bridge. Northern Michigan was swept last weekend on the road by a very good Wisconsin team, and a young Wildcats squad this season may well struggle this season without the superb but departed goaltender Jared Coreau, whom I watched steal a win for Northern in Omaha a year ago this Sunday. I think they’ll get a win from this series, though, although nothing more. Northern Michigan 4-2, Nebraska-Omaha 2-1

Alaska Goal Rush tournament: Friday – Alaska-Anchorage vs. Western Michigan and No. 12 Denver at Alaska, Saturday – Alaska-Anchorage vs. No. 12 Denver and Western Michigan at Alaska
Candace: I was at the Saturday Denver game against Merrimack, and the Pioneers looked very good. New coach Jim Montgomery has the Pioneers believing in their systems. It helped that the bounces all seemed to go Denver’s way. Western Michigan meanwhile, struggled against Notre Dame. For the Broncos to do well, they need to cut down on their penalties. Friday: Denver 3-1, Alaska-Anchorage 3-1, Saturday: Denver 3-1, Western Michigan 2-1
Matthew: A Denver team that surpassed many folks’ expectations last weekend at home to Merrimack and a Western Michigan team that was outscored a combined 7-0 last time out in a home-and-home with Notre Dame both visit the Alaskan interior this week for Fairbanks, Alaska’s, annual showcase. Both Alaska and Alaska-Anchorage started their seasons brightly last weekend at the Kendall Hockey Classic, going a combined 3-1-0, while UAA won its own tournament for the third consecutive year, the first time the Seawolves have ever done that. Anchorage looked particularly good and is benefiting from a new-coach bounce with Matt Thomas at the helm, but I see DU and Western doing better in Fairbanks this weekend than Air Force and Quinnipiac did a week ago in Anchorage. Friday: Alaska-Anchorage 4-2, Denver 3-1; Saturday: Denver 2-1, Western Michigan 2-0