And we’re back! Kinda. The WCHA eases back into action this week with three teams participating in holiday tournaments.
Michigan Tech and Ferris State are making this season’s Great Lakes Invitational an ostensible all-Michigan version of a WCHA/B1G challenge Sunday and Monday in Detroit, while Lake Superior State is making its first trip to the Florida College Hockey Classic.
These should be a pretty good appetizer for the New Years’ Day bowls, the college football playoff and the Winter Classic. Let’s go ahead and make some picks!
Great Lakes Invitational (at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit)
Sunday’s Semifinals: Michigan Tech vs. Michigan; Ferris State vs. Michigan State
Jack: I don’t know about you, Shane, but out of all of these tournaments involving WCHA teams, I’ll be most interested in the GLI. For the first time in at least 30 years (and maybe ever), Tech is the heavy favorite. Of course, the heavy favorite doesn’t always win these holiday tournaments — see two years ago, when the Huskies went to Detroit at 5-10-2 before shocking everybody and winning the whole thing. That said, Tech has already swept both Michigan and Ferris in the regular season. I’d be kind of crazy not to pick them to win it all this year. Right? RIGHT? Semis: Huskies 4, Wolverines 2; Bulldogs 3, Spartans 1. Third Place: Sparty 2, Wolverines 1. Championship: Huskies 3, Bulldogs 2 (OT).
Shane: You and I have talked a lot about the WCHA vs. the Big Ten this season, and here’s a great head-to-head matchup between the conferences. I just found out that the games are on Fox Sports North here in Minnesota, so I just might have to take in some GLI action. I’m with you, I think the WCHA teams are the favorites, and, of those two, Tech is the best team. We’re going to look a lot alike here, except for the third-place pick (should that even count for our records?). Semis: Huskies 4, Wolverines 1; Bulldogs 2, Spartans 1. Third place: Wolverines 4, Spartans 2. Championship: Huskies 4, Bulldogs 2
Florida College Hockey Classic (at Estero, Fla.)
Sunday’s Semifinals: Lake Superior State vs. Cornell; Notre Dame vs. Miami
Jack: Lake Superior State is making its debut at the Florida College Hockey Classic (or FCHC for short), subbing in for former tournament regular Maine. The Lakers’ presence gives the tourney a distinct CCHA flavor, but the Lake State/Cornell game is definitely the undercard for what should be a pretty entertaining ND/Miami battle earlier in the day. I don’t know anything about Cornell other than they’ve beaten a pair of good teams in Denver and Penn State but lost to a weak Princeton squad. Not sure how the Lakers will make it out of this one with a win. Semis: Big Red 5, Lakers 4; RedHawks 3, Irish 1. Third Place: Irish 5, Lakers 3. Championship: RedHawks 4, Big Red 2.
Shane: It’s been a tough first half for the Lakers, but there are worse things than getting a mid-season trip to Florida. You’re right, though, it’s a difficult tournament field with three teams that certainly have goals of getting to the NCAA tournament this season. None of them want to lose to Lake State, and I just don’t see an upset at this time. Semis: Big Red 2, Lakers 1; Irish 4, RedHawks 2. Third place: RedHawks 5, Lakers 2. Championship: Irish 3, Big Red 2