Dare we say this is rivalry week in the WCHA?
Lots of good matchups this weekend, with, once again, all 10 team in action against each other. And there’s some history between a lot of these teams, even if that history only goes back to last season.
So without further ado, let’s pick …
Minnesota State at Ferris State
Shane: This series was a heated one in Mankato last year when the roles were reversed. Ferris State was ranked No. 2 and Minnesota State was trying to play its way out of the middle. The Mavericks swept and then beat the Bulldogs again for the Final Five title. This year, MSU is No. 1, and FSU is sitting at .500. I think that’s where the similarities end, and we’ll see a split. Mavericks 3-2, Bulldogs 2-1
Jack: I guess the only concern for the Mavs would be the seeming “curse of No. 1” that’s been plaguing college hockey tonight. A ton of teams have lost a game (or two) and dropped out of the rankings after going to No. 1 in the poll. Of course, the polls don’t “matter” but they can mean a lot for the confidence of a team. Ferris is tough to beat at home. They’ve struggled lately but I agree with you that it’s a likely split. Bulldogs 3-2, Mavericks 4-1.
Bowling Green at Michigan Tech
Shane: Another rivalry that was born last year when these teams squared off six times, including in the WCHA playoffs. These two teams sit a point apart at second and third in the standings, so I expect another barn-burner. The Falcons are red hot, having lost just once in their last 13 games, while the Huskies are on a small slide. They’ll split. Huskies 4-2, Falcons 3-2
Jack: I’m tempted to think Bowling Green will sweep this series, just the way they’ve been playing so well and the fact tat Tech has fallen to earth a bit after their hot start. But I’m not so sure. So I guess I’ll just call a split here too and see what happens. Huskies 3-2, Falcons 3-2
Bemidji State at Lake Superior State
Shane: The Beavers are quietly moving their way up in the standings, thanks to a seven-game unbeaten streak. With the schedule they have coming up after this weekend (Bowling Green at home, road series at Tech, Northern and Ferris, just to name a few), these might be must-wins. Same could be said for the Lakers, who are at home for the only time in a 14-game stretch. Beavers 5-2, 4-3
Jack: This might not seem like it, Shane, but this is actually another old-school rivalry, dating back to the 1960s when both teams played in the NAIA and the NCAA simultaneously (or something… college sports was way less regimented back then). Anyway, these have actually been close games when the teams have played recently, but the Lakers are struggling so much I’m not very confident picking them to win anything. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong, but I like the Beavers (and their goaltending and defense) right now. That seven-game unbeaten streak turns to nine games this weekend. Beavers 4-0, 4-2
Northern Michigan at Alabama Huntsville
Shane: The Wildcats are another team that seems to be playing better hockey again. They also have found a way to get at least one point in every league series so far, including four the last two weekends against Michigan Tech and Minnesota State. There might be a couple of goalie battles this weekend against the Chargers, but I see an NMU sweep. Wildcats 3-1, 2-1
Jack: I was surprised at how poorly the Chargers played last weekend, since it seemed like they had turned a corner. Meanwhile, it does seem like maybe the Wildcats are back on track. The Chargers were able to steal a point from NMU in the nonconference series that didn’t count, but Wildcats’ goalie Mathaias Dahlstrom is also 5-0-1 against UAH in the past two years with an 0.81 GAA. I’m going to call a close NMU sweep as well. Wildcats 1-0, 2-1.
Alaska Anchorage at Alaska
Shane: The Governor’s Cup has been a longtime rivalry between the two Alaska schools, and it got ramped up last year when they played in the same conference for the first time. Then there was the three-game playoff series at the end of the year that the Seawolves won in upset fashion. Anchorage is desperate for some of that road magic after winning just one of its last 13 games. The Nanooks have lost one of its last six, meanwhile. Still I see a split. Seawolves 3-2, Nanooks 4-1
Jack: I’m going to call a Nanooks sweep here. The Seawolves’ last win was in the month of November, which seems crazy. Alaska is playing very well. Maybe if it was in Anchorage I could see the Wolves rallying, but I’ll call a sweep in Fairbanks. Nanooks 5-3, 3-2.
Last week: Shane 5-3-2, Jack 5-3-2
Overall: Shane 76-45-13, Jack 71-50-13