NCHC picks: Nov. 8

Was it only two weeks ago that I had a three-game lead on Matthew? After last weekend, Matthew is now up a game on me. Luckily, it’s a long season. Last week, I went 6-4 (.600) to move to 25-16-5 (.597) on the year, while Matthew went 8-2 (.800) to move to 26-15-5 (.619) on the year.

Friday-Saturday, Nov. 8-9

Denver vs. Colorado College home-and-home (at CC Fri., at DU Sat.)
Candace: Both teams have been struggling, but that usually doesn’t matter when these two face each other. CC bounded Denver in the first round of the WCHA playoffs last year, so it should provide the Pioneers with some extra motivation, but I have to figure this is a home-ice weekend. Colorado College 3-2, Denver 3-2
Matthew: I can’t help but wonder if there are any games in college hockey going on this weekend featuring two teams in more dire need of a pick-me-up. Denver lost to Nebraska-Omaha at home for the first time ever last Friday before losing to the Mavericks again — both 3-2 overtime decisions — the following night, and CC is finally home again after getting swept at both Clarkson and Western Michigan. Neither Colorado team has made a lot of hay so far this season, and that might not happen this week either, but emotion will be running so high on both sides in this first Gold Pan rivalry weekend that I think DU and CC will cancel each other out. Colorado College 2-1, Denver 3-1

No. 7 Miami at No. 3 St. Cloud State
Candace: After sweeping North Dakota on the road, for a reward, St. Cloud gets to play Miami, the other preseason conference favorite. This is likely a split, but I have no idea which team will win on which night, so I’ll buck the trend and pick a St. Cloud sweep. St. Cloud State 3-2, 3-1
Matthew: A strong defensive corps and great goaltending from Ryan Faragher have led SCSU to a 5-0-1 start to this season, and those pieces will have to come up big again this weekend. The offense Miami possesses (4.25 goals per game, good for fourth in the country) trumps the Huskies scoring (3.17, good for a tie for 18th) going into this series, but the RedHawks could be had here if St. Cloud’s attackers can heat up further. Miami’s only giving up two and a half goals per game so far this season but, on the road, the RedHawks have yet to hold any host team to fewer than two goals in a game. That target is manageable for the Huskies, but I don’t think they’ll hit it both nights. St. Cloud State 4-2, Miami 3-1

No. 11 North Dakota at Nebraska-Omaha
Candace: Nebraska-Omaha rebounded from getting swept at home by Cornell to sweep Denver on the road. As a reward, they get a North Dakota team at home that should be pumped up to get a couple of wins, something I think they will accomplish. North Dakota 3-2, 4-2
Matthew: Here’s where UNO gets to show just how significant its sweep on the road at Denver might’ve been following a difficult October in which the Mavericks finished 2-4-0. North Dakota comes into this series down a full six spots from a week ago in USCHO’s Division I Men’s Poll after being swept at home for the first time in nearly four years by St. Cloud State, and UND is going to be keen to get back to winning ways this weekend. All games between UNO and UND — at least those taking place indoors, as North Dakota thumped UNO, 5-2, at Omaha’s TD Ameritrade Park this last Feb. 9 – have been entertaining affairs, and I think we’ll get that again this weekend in what I see ending in a split. Nebraska-Omaha 3-2, North Dakota 4-1

Northern Michigan at Western Michigan
Candace: Western seems determined to make Matthew and I look silly for picking them last in the conference at the start of the year. I’ll go with a Broncos’ sweep. Western Michigan 3-2, 4-1
Matthew: Following the Broncos’ sweep of Colorado College last weekend, Western coach Andy Murray was quick earlier this week to point out that two games in October don’t make a season. That’s true, but Murray has had his team playing some really decent hockey since being swept by Notre Dame on opening weekend. This week, Western welcomes to Kalamazoo a Northern Michigan team that the Broncos swept at Lawson Arena last season. And the year before that. Oh, right, and also the year before that. Northern’s 1-4-0 on the road so far this season, so I’m going to tempt fate and say Western sweeps the Wildcats at Lawson yet again. Western Michigan 5-3, 3-1