WCHA picks: Jan. 2-4

Shane here … Happy new year, everybody! Jack and I weren’t so hot with our WCHA picks last week. Didn’t see that Lake Superior State tournament championship in Florida coming (Congratulations, Lakers!). Didn’t see Michigan Tech and Ferris State losing in the first round of the Great Lakes Invitational. The picks get no easier this week as a few teams return to conference play and others continuing some intriguing nonconference series.

On to the picks …

Minnesota State at Northern Michigan

Shane: The third-ranked Mavericks kick off a tough second-half schedule with a trip to Marquette to face a Wildcats team that has cooled off since its red-hot start to the season. When we last left MSU, it had to cancel a game due to an illness that had spread through the team. The midseason break couldn’t have come at a better time. Same might be said for NMU, which has won one of its last seven games. I like the Mavericks’ offense more than the Wildcats’ defense right now. Mavericks 3-2, 4-2

Jack: The health of Mathaias Dahlstrom might be the key to this series. The NMU goalie missed their series at Bemidji State before the break and the Wildcats went 0-1-1 in Bemidji. If the Wildcazts have Dahlstrom back, they might be able to earn the split. If not, it could be rough on them. I don’t think Dahlstrom’s injury was serious so I’ll call a split assuming he returns healthy. Either way, they need him back healthy soon to try and get back on track. Wildcats 3-2, Mavericks 4-2

Alaska Anchorage at Alabama Huntsville

Shane: The Seawolves struggled in November and December, winning just one of eight games, although they have a win and two ties in their last three. If Anchorage has hopes of getting home ice for the playoffs, it needs to start getting points. There was a time, not all that long ago, when playing the Chargers seemed like an automatic four points. Not so anymore. Although, UAH is on a seven-game winless streak, it did score a tie at Nebraska Omaha on Sunday. Chargers 3-2, Seawolves 4-1

Jack: This could be an underrated fun series to watch. The Seawolves have some firepower but can’t seem to figure out how to close out games, while the Chargers have some good goalies but haven’t figured out how to score consistently. Maybe both teams will bring out the best in each other this weekend and we’ll see a split. Seawolves 3-1, Chargers 4-2

Ferris State at Alaska

Shane: Ferris State last week began a brutal stretch of games in which it will play just two home games in a span of six weekends. The Bulldogs are also the latest team to do the two-week stay in Alaska, which they begin this week against the Nanooks. I really think Alaska is a team that would get home ice (again) if it was eligible, and it will spend the rest of the season reminding people of that. Nanooks 3-1, 2-1

Jack: The fact that Alaska has to miss the playoffs is a real bummer. They’re an exciting team, and Tyler Morley and Colton Parayko probably aren’t getting the accolades they deserve due to the Nanooks’ punishment. Ferris might have a tough time up north so I’ll agree with you, Shane, and go with the sweep. Nanooks 4-3, 2-1

Michigan Tech at Wisconsin

Shane: The fifth-ranked team in the nation plays a one-win team. I’m sure that’s been a scenario in the past between these two teams, only with the roles reversed. I wonder when the last time Tech went to Madison as the favorite against the Badgers. Sometime in the 1970s, I suppose. The Huskies looked really good in the GLI last week, even in the 2-1 loss to Michigan in the first round. Huskies 4-2, 4-1

Jack: The only concern for the Huskies might be that they had a few less days of rest coming off the Sunday-Monday GLI games. I don’t really think that will affect them, though, since as you said, they looked very good in both games despite losing one. Wisconsin, meanwhile, has… not looked good this season. I can’t see anything other than a Tech sweep. Huskies 4-1, 4-1

Bowling Green vs. Robert Morris (Saturday-Sunday)

Shane: This series should be a good one between the 13th– and 19th-ranked teams in the country and will begin with an outdoor game at Fifth Third Field in Toledo (home of the Mud Hens!) before moving to Pittsburgh. The Falcons have lost just one of their last nine games and will be a force in the WCHA over the second half. It looks like the Colonials are pretty solid, too. Falcons 4-2, Colonials 3-2

Jack: The real question is if Bowling Green and Robert Morris will make like the host Toledo Walleye and wear some Star Wars-themed jerseys for the occasion. After all, playing a hockey game outdoors does remind one an awful lot of Hoth, doesn’t it? Anyway, I’m expecting a really entertaining series like you. I see a split as well. Falcons 5-3, Colonials 3-2

Last week: Shane 4-4-0, Jack 3-5-0

Overall: Shane 66-39-9, Jack 62-43-9


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