NCHC picks: Jan. 17

Well, we are more than halfway through the season, and after last weekend, Matthew and I are back to where we were in October: dead even in our picks race. Last weekend, I went 4-4 ).500, to move to 62-41-13 (.590) on the year, while Matthew went 7-1 (.875) to also move to 62-41-13 (.590).

Maybe I can take the lead again and go up in the race for the six pack.

Friday-Saturday, Jan. 17-18

Nebraska-Omaha at Miami
Candace: Like Matthew, I really am unsure of which team to pick on which night. UNO swept Miami at home back in November right before Thanksgiving, which was also right before the Mavericks went into a swoon. I don’t see Miami returning the favor though. Miami 3-2, Nebraska-Omaha 4-2
Matthew: It probably doesn’t look great on me to admit this right off the bat this week, but I’m really struggling with who to take here. UNO’s lost five of its last six, and the only win in that span was in a shootout; Miami’s lost four of its last five, and both these teams can score but are having real issues at the other end of the ice. I’m taking the safe option and picking a split; Miami’s the home team so I’ll take them Friday, but UNO has to come up with another win inside 65 minutes sooner or later. Miami 4-2, Nebraska-Omaha 3-2

Western Michigan at No. 3 St. Cloud State
Candace: Western looked good last weekend in sweeping Miami, and St. Cloud looked a little rusty against Denver, but I would imagine coach Bob Motzko has drilled his players on the importance of every game at this point. I think St. Cloud sweeps. St. Cloud 3-2, 4-1
Matthew: Considering Western’s won five of its last six and has won four on the bounce going into this weekend, I can see them getting something this weekend and possibly entering our Men’s Division I top 20 next Monday. St. Cloud’s too good a team to get swept in its own building — and don’t forget North Dakota’s nipping at SCSU’s heels now — but a split’s very possible. Western Michigan 3-2, St. Cloud State 4-1

No. 16 Denver at Minnesota-Duluth
Candace: If Aaron Crandall plays like he did last weekend against Nebraska-Omaha, this will be one of the best goaltender duels of the weekend. Considering that of late, both teams have struggled on Friday and come through on Saturday, and I’m not sure which way to pick. Minnesota-Duluth 3-2, Denver 2-1
Matthew: UMD goaltender Aaron Crandall was fabulous for the Bulldogs last weekend in a road sweep of Nebraska-Omaha, and if he can stay hot and Duluth keeps giving him goal support, I can see them winning their fourth and fifth wins in a row this weekend. Denver looked Saturday against SCSU as though the Pioneers have snapped out of its mini-funk over the holidays, though, so it’s another split from me. Minnesota-Duluth 4-2, Denver 3-1

No. 20 North Dakota vs. Bemidji State home-and-home (at BSU Friday)
Candace: North Dakota has been on a roll of late, and I don’t see it ending this weekend, but I think at least one of these games will be closer than anticipated. North Dakota 3-2, 4-1
Matthew: A nine-game winning streak would be unbelievable by the standards NCHC teams have put up thus far, but that’s exactly what UND’s looking at if it sweeps Bemidji this weekend, and I think it’s going to happen. BSU has eight home losses already this season, and I can’t see the Beavers getting it done at the Ralph. North Dakota 4-2, 5-1

No. 7 Providence at Colorado College
Candace: Providence has been struggling of late, but CC has been struggling all year, and the Friars should come strong enough to get a sweep. Providence 3-2, 3-1
Matthew: If this was taking place earlier in the season, I might’ve really feared for CC in this series. However, Providence is 0-3-1 in its last four games and isn’t looking as ruthless as it did through to around Thanksgiving. The Friars are a more talented team than CC, but an upset or maybe even two could be in the cards. Colorado College 3-1, Providence 4-1