NCHC picks: Nov. 15

Well, Matthew and I both were dismal last week, going 2-5-1 (.312). It seems that teams are having trouble establishing consistency, and so are we. On the year, I am now 27-21-6 (.555), while Matthew is 28-20-6 (.574).

I’ll try and at least catch him this week.

Friday-Saturday, Nov. 15-16

Western Michigan at Denver
Candace: Just when I am ready to write off Denver and praise Western Michigan, the teams make me question everything all over again. In a lot of ways, Denver has Sam Brittain to thank for its success against Colorado College last week. Brittain has been outstanding this year. Can he do it again? And did the disappointing weekend at home against the Wildcats wake the Broncos back up? Denver 2-1, Western Michigan 2-1
Matthew: Western disappointed me last weekend in only getting a loss and a tie at home to a Northern Michigan team that had really struggled on the road before it came to Kalamazoo. This time, Western makes the big trek west to face a Denver team buoyant after taking five of six points from arch-rival Colorado College, and I think the Pioneers will keep the ball rolling here and continue their recovery from what had been a pretty bumpy start to the season. Denver 4-2, 3-1

No. 20 Minnesota-Duluth at No. 13 North Dakota
Candace: North Dakota hasn’t looked good the last few weeks. They are bound to snap out of their funk at some point, but I can’t see this as anything but a split. For the most part this season, Minnesota-Duluth has had trouble on Friday and done better on Saturday, especially on the road, while North Dakota has been the opposite at home. North Dakota 3-2, Minnesota-Duluth 3-2
Matthew: Nebraska-Omaha last weekend probably should have handed North Dakota its first five-game losing streak in coach Dave Hakstol’s tenure. However, an outstanding 36-save performance from goaltender Clarke Saunders and good fortune at the other end of the ice last Sunday saw North Dakota snap its first four-game losing skid since 2006. North Dakota is back at home this weekend against a rested Minnesota-Duluth team that had last weekend off and is giving up quite a lot fewer goals per game (1.88) so far this season than Nebraska-Omaha (3.30). I’m going with a split here, as while it looks like North Dakota’s starting to get everything back in order, I think the Bulldogs could cause North Dakota some real problems. Minnesota-Duluth 3-2, North Dakota 3-1

No. 12 Wisconsin at No. 8 Miami
Candace: This should be a barn-burner of a series. I got burned picking a Miami sweep the last couple of times, but Wisconsin was dreadful the last time it went on the road, and I am wondering whether the eight goals the Badgers put up in their last game are an anomaly or a sign the team is back to its winning ways. Hmmm. Miami 4-2, 3-2
Matthew: Although Wisconsin’s last game saw the Badgers score more goals than they had in any game in going on four years, I’m not yet sold on the Badgers. The only time Wisconsin’s gone on the road so far this season, it got pounded at Boston College and Boston University by a combined score of 16-5. That’s not great news ahead of a road trip to face a Miami squad that is 6-3-1 so far this season with a tougher early-season schedule than Wisconsin’s. It won’t be easy this weekend for Miami, but I’ll take the RedHawks to pick up their fourth and fifth consecutive home wins. Miami 5-2, 3-1

No. 3 St. Cloud State at Alabama-Huntsville
Candace: I am glad the Chargers found a home in the WCHA, but for now, they are still a few rungs below top teams like St. Cloud. St. Cloud 4-1, 4-2
Matthew: It would be just my luck for Alabama-Huntsville to pick up its first win of the season in one of these two games at home to St. Cloud State, but while I’ve for years had a soft spot for the Chargers, I can’t see anything other than a Huskies sweep here. Division I’s third-worst team defense (4.50 goals allowed per game) might actually see its numbers improve, considering SCSU hasn’t scored a ton of goals, but St. Cloud has the nation’s third-best defense (1.88) and a very solid goaltender in Ryan Faragher, and offensively-challenged UAH will have a tough time solving them. St. Cloud State 4-1, 3-0

No. 2 Michigan at Nebraska-Omaha
Candace: Home was good to Nebraska-Omaha last week. However, I am still of the belief that defense wins, and almost nobody can match the Wolverines in that category. If the Mavericks try to run-and-gun with the Wolverines, they’ll get burned. Michigan 4-2, 3-2
Matthew: Michigan has looked similar to St. Cloud so far this season in that the Wolverines’ success has largely come from the back, with Michigan only having conceded 1.75 goals per game. This week, the Wolverines travel to Omaha for the first time since Michigan and Nebraska-Omaha were both in the CCHA, although it’s yet to be seen whether it will feel much different without league points on the line. That said, the Wolverines rarely faltered in Omaha — they’re 9-4-3 all-time there — and I think they’ll get one more this weekend, but the Mavericks have won three of four games already this month and I think they’ll pull out another one this weekend. Michigan 3-1, Nebraska-Omaha 3-2