NCHC picks: Dec. 13

Because of sweeps last weekend, as well as Denver winning the first night, neither Matthew nor I did particularly well last week, both going 3-5 (.375). On the year, I am now 47-34-10 (.571), while Matthew is 46-35-10 (.560). Hopefully, we can close on a strong note.

Friday-Saturday, Dec. 13-14

Western Michigan at Minnesota-Duluth
Candace: Both teams desperately need a win after getting swept last weekend. Minnesota-Duluth actually outplayed St. Cloud last week on Friday, even though the Bulldogs lost. Western Michigan had a dogfight against North Dakota. I’m really leery of this series, but will go for a Bulldogs sweep. Minnesota-Duluth 3-2, 2-1
Matthew: It’s tough to tell which of these teams is in more dire need of a couple good results this weekend. UMD and Western come into this series seventh and eighth in the NCHC, respectively, and they were both swept last weekend. Duluth should have the upper hand here as it’s at home, but I don’t know you can pick anything other than a split here. Western Michigan 3-2, Minnesota-Duluth 3-1

No. 20 Denver at No. 18 Rensselaer
Candace: Denver looked very good last weekend against Miami on the road, and has been playing well in its last several outings. Rensselaer has done well since a mid-November slip, including a tie with Quinnipiac. I figure this is likely a split. Denver 3-2, Rensselaer 2-1
Matthew: Denver appears to be turning things around after a pretty ho-hum start to the season, and I’m interested to see what the Pioneers can do on the road against a good but somewhat streaky RPI team. DU didn’t look intimidated traveling to Miami last time out, so I don’t think that’ll be a concern this time, either. That said, though, I’m going with a split here, as the Engineers have been in decent form the past few games. Rensselaer 3-2, Denver 3-1

No. 10 Union at No. 1 St. Cloud State
Candace: Bob Motzo pointed out that this series was scheduled over a year ago, and you wouldn’t have known how critical it might be when it was first put on the schedule. I think Union might get a split, but for now, I’m going with St. Cloud. St. Cloud 4-2, 2-1
Matthew: Looking at what both of these teams have been able to do so far this season, this is a series I’d love to attend. Union’s riding an eight-game winning streak stretching back more than a month, but the Dutchmen are on the road this weekend to a St. Cloud team that has gotten fantastic goaltending from Ryan Faragher lately and isn’t having trouble getting goals at the other end of the ice. I’m not brave enough to pick the Huskies to sweep here, but, goodness, these are going to be a fun couple of games. St. Cloud State 4-2, Union 2-1

Northern Michigan at North Dakota
Candace: North Dakota might have started its usual second-half surge a little early; of course, they definitely needed it. I think the momentum continues here. North Dakota 3-2 3-1
Matthew: UND has won three games in a row now. However, as they’ve all been close-run things — all three of those games ended up 3-2 on the scoreboard — I’m curious whether to see if UND can step its game up a notch this weekend and win a little more comfortably. That should happen against a Northern Michigan team that’s 0-3-2 in its last five games and has been far from great on the road so far this season. North Dakota 3-1, 2-0

Colorado College at No. 15 Wisconsin
Candace: CC showed signs of life last weekend against Nebraska-Omaha. I think the Tigers will put up a huge fight, but ultimately Wisconsin should prevail. Wisconsin 3-2, 3-1
Matthew: Here’s where we might get some indicators as to whether or not CC’s win and shootout loss against Nebraska-Omaha last weekend was a sign the Tigers are turning things around, or if last weekend was just a blip. Those indicators will most likely show up in how CC plays as opposed to the results it gets, as CC hasn’t won on the road yet and Wisconsin has yet to lose at home this season. I think both of those streaks will stay intact this weekend. Wisconsin 3-2, 3-1