WCHA picks: Jan. 8-10

I love these weeks, and there needs to be more of them. It’s good for the WCHA when all 10 WCHA teams are in action, especially when they’re all playing against each other, which is the case this weekend. It’s just the second time this season that it has happened, but it gets everyone paying attention to the races taking place up and down the standings.

So what’s going to happen?

Ferris State at Alaska-Anchorage

Shane: The Bulldogs get a to leave Alaska a bit early, thanks to this Thursday-Friday series. Both of these teams are trying to break winless streaks, with Ferris State hoping to stay in the hunt for home ice and Anchorage hoping to do the same but also get out of the conference basement. The Bulldogs dominated the Seawolves two months ago in Big Rapids, but Anchorage has been better at home than on the road. Bulldogs 3-1. Seawolves 2-1

Jack: For some reason both Ferris/Anchorage series this year have been Thursday/Friday instead of Friday/Saturday. Maybe the coaching staffs just don’t like playing on Saturdays? Regardless, Ferris has lost their last four games and will be looking to get out of their rut. I think they’ll score one from the Seawolves on the road, if only yo snap the streak. Seawolves 3-2, Bulldogs 2-1.

Alaska at Bowling Green

Shane: The only thing that would make this a more intriguing series would be if Alaska was eligible for the postseason. These are two of the hottest teams in the league, if not the country with just three non-wins (one loss, two ties) combined in their last 13 games. The Falcons swept the Nanooks in Fairbanks in early November, right after Alaska got the news about its NCAA sanctions. I’ve been on the BG bandwagon all year, but I think this will be a split. Nanooks 4-3, Falcons 4-2

Jack: Seems like the BG bandwagon is getting bigger every week. And with good reason: The Falcons keep proving to everyone in the country just how good they are. The Nanooks struggled early in the season — they were swept by Bemidji State the week before the sanctions were announced then were swept by the Falcons the week after — but they seem to have rallied from that initial shock and are playing some great hockey. I agree with you that this looks like a split. Falcons 5-3, Nanooks 2-1.

Michigan Tech at Northern Michigan

Shane: This should be a good series between U.P. rivals, starting Friday in Marquette before moving to Houghton on Saturday. The Wildcats are on a six-game winless streak but one with three ties, including last Saturday against Minnesota State. The Huskies have been impressive, and it took a couple of great goaltending performances to beat them recently. Mathias Dahlstrom missed the MSU series last week. If that’s still the case, I say … Huskies 4-2, 4-3

Jack: That Phillips/Dahlstrom matchup would have me (or anyone who loves good goalie battles) salivating, but if Dahlstrom is still out, as you say, I don’t know if I can see Michael Doan or Derrick Dun being able to stop Tech’s powerful forward group. I’ll agree with the sweep. Huskies 3-1, 5-3

Lake Superior State at Minnesota State

Shane: The Mavericks swept the Lakers by a combined 10-0 score over Thanksgiving weekend in Sault Ste. Marie, but coach Mike Hastings insists that a very different Lake Superior State team is coming to Mankato this weekend, one that won a tournament championship its last time out. Still, the Lakers have been shut out six times this season, including in a shootout win in that Florida tournament. Minnesota State just scores too many goals to lose. Mavericks 4-1, 4-1

Jack: You basically made all the relevant points to this series. The Lakers do seem to be a slightly better team than before — freshman Gordan Diefel has improved, at least — but I can’t see him shutting down the Mavericks’ offense. Mavericks 5-2, 4-2

Alabama-Huntsville at Bemidji State

Shane: The Chargers and the Beavers are a combined 4-0-4 in their last eight games, so something has to give, right? Alabama Huntsville has some swagger right now after scoring its first-ever WCHA sweep, but it has to go on the road to face a Bemidji State team that’s tough at home. An improved Huntsville team is good for the conference, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a tie (or two) this weekend. But I’m going with … Beavers 4-2, 3-1

Jack: This may put me in hot water in Bemidji, but the Chargers have already won one game at the Sanford Center in the past year and I see no reason to think they won’t be able to do it again. I think these games are going to be really fun to watch and cover, especially if the BSU student section returns from break a few days early for some “We Hate Huntsville” chants. I think the Beavers and Chargers split. Beavers 4-2, Chargers 3-2

Last week: Shane 5-3-2, Jack 4-4-2

Overall: Shane 71-42-11, Jack 66-47-11

123 COMMENTS

    • not to mention that carey was snubbed as rookie of the year with the number he put up in his freshmen year…The ECAC always has been a joke when it comes to the awards…Enjoy it q pac because it wont happen next year…Carey Should have been player of the year without a doubt with the numbers he put up on the year…51 points in a single season is not good enough?

  1. The Beavers and Huntsville should always be in the same pod to play each other twice every year. 2 games at home and 2 away.

  2. Jack, Jack, Jack….. Don’t you know that by living in Bemidji, you can never, ever, pick the Chargers to beat the Beavers! Its in the City Charter or something like that!

  3. BU deserves a ton of credit for turning things around so quickly from last year. Northeastern went from winless to nearly unbeatable in the same season. As Forrest Gump would say: “Hockey East is like a box of chocolates, you just never know what you are gonna get”. Should make for a great finish and tournament in Hockey East.

    • You are correct however they have a game in hand on BC so like Jim stated either one BU win or one BC loss clinches the title for BU…which makes it seem like they have a 6 pt lead in the standings

      • Thank you Benjamin, however if you look at what Jim wrote: “With a six-point lead in the standings over Boston College and a game in hand on the Eagles, BU needs just one win (or a BC loss) over the final two weekends of the regular season to clinch the season-long title.” He is saying that “with” meaning they currently have a six point lead “and” a game in hand. So by using that logic, wouldn’t that translate into an eight point lead? I do agree that if BU wins one of their final four HE games, they will clinch at least a tie, but if BC wins out under that scenario, both teams would have 30 points. Not familiar with tie-breaking, but BC and BU split the series with a wash in goal differential.

  4. Jim. What do u and your college hockey writer colleagues think about having a play in game for conference champs that don’t rank in the top 16 of the pairwise rather than an automatic playoff spot, Wth a one game play-in spot a 16 ranked pair wise team plays a lower ranked team that’s a conference winner. Both participate in playoffs and all conferences get representation just not automatic first round play. For example robert Morris would play UML for the final spot in 16 team first round selection If seas on ended today.
    Basketball has such play in games and would get more colleges involved in playoffs.
    thanks.
    Terry s.

  5. Tough to think that Lowell doesn’t make it as the Pairwise computers may need to be tweeked. Is the NCHC that strong that they get 6 teams in, one that is barely over .500? Time will tell. If that conference only gets 1 team in the Frozen Four you have to wonder.
    Having BC and BU in the same region seems to F up the chance of more than 1 HE team in the FF. Western fans are always whining about the brackets, but that one makes no sense. PC doesn’t have a great following so moving them is OK except for the fact that hardly any team would have to travel if a region was in their back yard. UNH never had to leave Manchester when it was there. That being said UND should worry about Jon Gillies in net for PC as they would get screwed by that match up if it happens.
    Here is an idea going forward: Have 14 teams picked by the computers and then have 4 teams ( picked by humans ) having a play-in series to get the right to be a part of the ‘sweet 16’. This way an Atlantic Hockey team that is weak would have to prove itself against a Michigan or Lowell before they play in the Regionals.
    Just a thought.

    • NBCSN showed Lowell’s poor end to the season and that was just enough to make it a bubble team. I have seen my Terriers be ranked number one in the country in mid January and not make the tournament. I do not recall the year, but I do know BC won the Beanpot, which was the start of the decline.

      In 2013, Jack Parker’s final season, Lowell eliminated BU in the Hockey East final. It is just a wheel of karma. Every year, there will be that team that does not make it. Two years ago, the last team in the tournament won it all.

      • That 2-7-1 stretch in Jan-Feb really did them in. They were outside the top 16 when the HEA tournament started. Colgate reaching the ECAC final was probably the dagger in the PWR. UML had to pretty much win the HEA title to get in.

    • The short answer about the NCHC being good enough to deserve 6 teams is, no, they’re probably not. But it does have enough good teams so that the losses look better. St. Cloud State has 18 losses. 18. They’re only 1 game above .500. However, the inflated NCHC strength of schedule helps them because now those losses inside the conference don’t hurt as much and the wins they have in conference look even better. Is it fair, no. It’s basically the BCS. And we all know how well that worked.

    • Then you just don’t understand how the PWR works and trying to explain it would take too long. The bottom line is this, scsu played a much harder schedule and that makes a lot of the difference.

      • Its true. Bowling Green and St Cloud both knew going into the weekend that they would have to each win at least one game. The Huskies did that and the Falcons did not.

  6. I’ve predicated this twice before and in both years got burned badly… I’m calling this Miami’s year. No better time to step up to finally win the big one., and prove the naysayers (like me) wrong… The field is wide open. Red Hawks have the goalie, and are on an end of the year run.

    • You could be right but it will be all about which teams goalie plays better for the next four games. There are a number of teams that have legit shots, Miami included. I know that UND was awful this weekend but hopefully that is out of their system and they get providence a team they can beat first round and if McIntyre can play to his potential I thik that UND has a chance as well but so does bu, mn, du, the list goes on and on. I really don’t see a favorite at all this year.

      • Agreed… Like I said, wide open! I think you questioned me a few weeks ago when I said Miami was overrated. They just have a long history of blowing it at this time of year after coming in with tons of creditionals. CCHA champion, #1 or #2 ranking, etc. Last year they were predicted to win NCHC, and finished last. So, I’m calling them and Blasi to the mat. I really think this is their best opportunity.
        They played real well down the stretch, beating DU, UND, St Cloud, and “won” the NCHC. They have a good team… No better year to take advantage of a wide open field.
        That said, I’m not holding my breath… It won’t surprise if I’m dead wrong.

  7. First, thank younJason for your fine work every year. The pairwise rankings, your analysis and at the near the end of the season, your excellent what if discussions, make the process the committee uses nearly transparent.

    Second, thank goodness we do not have a UNH/Manchester AND a Yale/Bridgeport host conundrum.

    I like the bracket, and as a BU alum and current student who watches the Terriers every time they are broadcast, let me say this. Every time BU is a first band team, we end up in Northeast/East, staring down a Hockey East foe in a potential regional final. There is no problem with that, it makes for a great audience in person if that comes to pass. Even with the final at TD, it does not matter when we play BC in the tournament, if we do, it will be a great game, just like a Minnesota/North Dakota or Michigan/Michigan State game.

    Not every year is BU beating BC at the Beanpot final, again at Hockey East/ECAC finals and once more for the NCAA at the Garden/Providence Civic Center. I would be fine with a sixth national title.

  8. Just because Brown is the host for the Providence regional instead of Providence seems to me a technicality that should be ignored. Yale is always a host at Bridgeport so this is a chance for them to go west for a change. Ironically, it was Harvard’s wins in the ECACs that ultimately got them in. The whole host school thing seems unfair to schools that are far away from big enough rinks and can never be a host school.

  9. Imagine that, North Dakota and Minnesota in the same bracket again….. Why not just declare it, at the beginning of the year…

    • Providence is a tough draw because of Gillies, not because of being home. I am shocked they didn’t send them to Fargo though and have QU or Yale in Providence as they would draw just as well and have better bracket integrity.

      • Better than no draw. Obvious they were going to be at home if they were in, and most likely versus the worst 1 seed to avoid punishing a higher 1 by making them play a road game.

        So you recognized that Providence isn’t a big draw, but then didn’t put BC and BU in separate regionals? Another fail.

  10. I really don’t understand what the committee was thinking this year. The Midwest stuck with the 1v16/8v9 seeding line. Fine start. But then they throw that out by putting Providence (#15) into the East regional with #4 MIami, instead of keeping either Quinnipiac or Yale.
    TL;DR: NCAA needs to stop ignoring their procedures when it suits them.

    • Clearly they think Providence is more important to the attendance in Providence than Quinnipiac or Yale. It’s just that most of us think that’s an incorrect assumption.

      • Probably because having to host and have your team at separate sites is a complete nightmare and completely stupid.

        Then Miami gets them because to give a higher #1 seed a road game would be ridiculous. How I thought it always would be.

        USCHO got it wrong this year, and I said so about two iterations of the bracket ago.

        • Providence has nothing to do with hosting this year. Please stop saying it. Their staff has nothing to do with the tourney this year.

  11. Committee moved Providence where they were always going to go, and then gave UND the next worst of 13-16 after RIT.

    Committee basically chose to move BC for attendance reasons rather than Harvard. Obvious. They didn’t care about moving teams back east that don’t draw, and they shouldn’t have.

    • Except you disproved your own argument. If they didn’t care about moving teams back east that don’t draw, they wouldn’t have moved Providence.

          • You could do worse. AFR knows what he is talking about. BC will be the fan “draw” in Providence, not PC. There might be some more locals there now, with PC out of NCAABB tourney.

          • From your mouth to God’s ears. This will be tough, DU playing in front of hostile crowd. We played them early in season at DU, split with both games ending 2-1. Nice to have BC and/or BU on our schedule every year. Always helps SOS and gives good indication of your year. Lots of respect on my end for both.

          • Look at the bracket. Committee obviously thought of Providence as a home draw. Live with it.

          • Tournament was bracketed exactly as I would have expected. I don’t have to contradict myself. Maybe I should write this column next year. This is so much easier than basketball or baseball bracketology.

          • I’ll be looking forward to reading your columns. Hope your resume is up to date and you know the host teams ahead of time. You may not have to contradict yourself, but you did. I like the way it’s bracketed, I would have had PC in Fargo and QU in Providence.

          • If you read the earlier comments, I’m far from the only one that was barking up this tree.

            The committee saw Providence as “home”. That is obvious. That you didn’t see it that way really doesn’t mean jack crap.

            I wish Providence was going to Fargo because they looked like crap in Grand Forks. But the committee was only ever going to go one way.

          • It doesn’t surprise me that they did it this way, at all. If you read earlier comments, I’m far from the only one that thinks PC doesn’t help attendance. I think the draw would have been better with QU and it would have kept integrity, which they stress… until they change their minds.

          • Yeah, if I was a QU fan I’d be pissed that I got tossed out west in favor of a lower overall seed. That said, they were technically tied with Providence in the PWR (even though QU wins the tiebreaker over PC).

          • It is easier, but it’s also only 16 teams, and any number of websites has the ranking system that determines what those 16 teams are.

          • No disagreement here. That’s why I said it. 64 teams is almost impossible. 16 teams, not so much. At least we don’t have to read Moy’s crowing about never having gotten it wrong before, because sure did this year.

          • I’m actually surprised it was so far off. It seemed like most of the issues with intra-conference matchups worked themselves out. I had the same matchups as him, except I had a feeling they would move BC to Providence for attendance. I just didn’t think they’d worry about moving Providence, too. The last few weeks though it’s been crazy how much maneuvering had to be done.

          • Providence sold out 2 games all season in an arena that’s barely 3,000 people. It doesn’t take a genius to see that they’re not a big attendance draw.

          • Also doesn’t take a genius to see that some is better than none.

            Providence and BC will draw in that regional better than Harvard and Yale. The committee got it right. USCHO, and apparently you dopes, didn’t.

          • Yes, but the point is they wouldn’t necessarily bring any more people than Yale or Quinnipiac, and you’d have better bracket integrity. I understand why they did it, I just think it was pointless.

  12. Surprised they didn’t swap Harvard and Minnesota? South Bend might be the biiggest yawner I can remember. Swapping those teams puts Harvard back East and draws the Gophers fans who could drive it.

    • Yes very odd they didn’t make that change. I bet they will regret it with attendence in south bend. Plus that is switching 9 and 10 which is nothing and you get the inter state rivalry thing. They really set this up for the top seed to have an easy path.

  13. Why does Miami get screwed yet again by being a “seeded” team whose opponent get a home game? Happened a few years ago too….they got sent to Manchester NH to play New Hampshire as “seeded” team. Someone must have it out for them

    • When you are the last one seed, there are no other options of where to be placed. They needed to be one of the top two one seeds to not have to go out east.

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