WCHA picks, Feb. 5-9

Shane here …

Jack and I visited Splitsville, and I ended up on the right side of the tracks, while Jack found out what the wrong side looked like. I not only got the North Star College Cup games right, but nailed two of the scores and was an empty-netter away from getting three, maybe all four. I guess I should have gone to Vegas. I wasn’t sure how to grade Jack’s Sunday games, since the matchups were wrong. I gave him a two wins since he had the right winners from that day (or was it out of pity?). Anyway, enough living in the past. You’re only as good as your latest picks, and there are some good WCHA matchups this weekend (and a rare, for the WCHA, Tuesday game).

Alaska Anchorage at Northern Michigan

Shane: The Seawolves got an important win on Saturday to salvage a home split against Alabama Huntsville and now have to make their final trip out of state. They’re 3-1-0 in the UP this season, but Northern Michigan has been solid at home and are trying to ensure they’re in Marquette for the playoffs. Wildcats 4-2, 5-2

Jack: I wouldn’t say NMU has been shocking this season, since I’m not sure a 10-10-6 team can be considered as such. But NMU has outperformed a bit and their results have been consistent — they haven’t had many games where things go off the rails for them, and they’ve picked up a few nice wins in the process. I think that continues this weekend. Wildcats 2-1, 3-1

Lake Superior State at Michigan Tech

Shane: It’s Winter Carnival weekend Houghton, a tradition like no other. The Huskies didn’t lose in January, going 3-0-3, including three-point weekends against the two teams ahead of them in the league standings. The Lakers were off last weekend after that drubbing in Mankato. I think Tech rolls. Huskies 5-1, 5-3

Jack: Tech has been great on the road this season, but a pretty pedestrian 4-4-1 in Houghton. I think that changes this weekend for Winter Carnival, Shane. I expect them to dominate the Lakers, who have lost their last three. Huskies 5-3, 5-4

Bowling Green at Minnesota State

Shane: This is the big matchup of the weekend, pitting the first-place Mavericks against the second-place Falcons. This series couldn’t get much closer over the last three years, with MSU holding a slim 4-3-2 edge. Five of the nine games have gone to overtime, including two ties earlier this season. Picking a split is the easy way to go here, naturally, but which team gets which day? Falcons 3-2, Mavericks 4-3

Jack: Bowling Green is probably the team that has given MSU more problems than anyone else over the last three years in the league, huh? I agree that this has split written all over it. I’ll try my luck and pick the opposite teams to win on both days. I may as well go for broke because I need the wins. Mavericks 5-4, Falcons 3-2

Ferris State at Alaska

Shane: The Nanooks finally get some home games, their first since Jan. 2-3. They haven’t won at home since Nov. 6 and want desperately to get out of non-playoff position. The Bulldogs are trying to maintain a home-ice spot, meanwhile, as well as keep a five-game unbeaten streak going. Both streaks end this weekend. Bulldogs 3-2, Nanooks 3-2

Jack: In my three things blog last week I mixed up the Alaska schools’ standings positions. I guess this is what happens when I write my blog on a Sunday after two fulls days of hockey at the X…. Anyway, the Nanooks haven’t looked great for most of this season, while the Bulldogs have been surprisingly good without CJ Motte. I think they extend their unbeaten streak and (finally!) sweep somebody. Bulldogs 3-2, 3-2

Bemidji State at Minnesota Duluth (Tuesday)

Shane:  I almost forgot about this makeup game from Oct. 9 when the power went out in Duluth last fall. Perhaps they should have played this last Thursday and made it a play-in game for the North Star Cup, getting all five Minnesota teams there. Anyway, I feel a lot different about both of these teams than I did five months ago. Beavers 4, Bulldogs 2

Jack:  You really wanted to force the defending North Star College Cup Champions into a play-in game before this year’s tournament? For shame, Shane…. Anyway, the Beavers have been surprisingly dominant against the Bulldogs: BSU is 4-1-1 in the past four years, which includes wins in the North Star Cup last year and earlier this year when the Bulldogs were the No. 2 team in the country. I think it’s pretty clear now that the Bulldogs aren’t quite the team we thought they were, and the Beavers might be (somewhat) underestimated. I think BSU wins again. Beavers 5, Bulldogs 2

Last week: Shane 10-1-1, Jack 3-8-1. Overall: Shane 92-49-27, Jack 74-67-27


  1. Good article, Elliot. We have had our differences on past boards but I wholeheartedly agree with your position here.

  2. A fact noone considers, Colgate has one scoring line, Smith has two people on him at all times. He still does it !  Also, less than %25 of his points are on the PP,  the other candidates are over %50 points on the PP.   And, he has the lead in “shorties”.

  3. lets not forget that scholastic achievement is supposed to be considered to, cant wait for all the ECAC haters to find a flaw with that part of the ECAC too.

  4. I think it’s crazy that he can say Jack is automatically going to be in when Abbott is having a better season on a weaker team.  Maine had the 16th hardest schedule, Colgate 38(i think) and UMD(35)  On top of that Maine has 1 line, so for Abbott to put up those points, when teams know if they shut down the first line they are more then likely going to win.  If anyone should be in the Hat trick it’s Abbott.

    Abbott should be getting a lot more credit then he is.

    • Who is on Abbott’s line?  I am assuming Flynn is on it, (I haven’t seen Maine play this year).

      Jack has played with Siedel all year (26 points) and Basaraba most of the year (14 points)  he has played the last three weekends with Flaherty instead of Basaraba (Flaherty 10 points).  Connolly has played on a line with Brown and Oleksuk for only 3 games all year. 

      I think its a sealed deal that Connolly and Abbott are in the hat trick, both have had great season and great careers. I’m going to have to go with Connolly, he has had a better career and done it in a deeper conference.  Take this for whatever you want, I’ve had two transfers from HE to WCHA tell me this year that the jump was easier to make than moving from NAHL to HE. 

  5. Man, this is a pretty tough dilemma in terms of Smith vs. Connelly.  I think it’s pretty clear that Connelly plays in the conference with better teams, but at the same time he also plays on a line that makes up the top three scorers in the WCHA, so how much of his numbers are a byproduct of that? A previous poster commented on goal-assist ratio and how Connelly has many more assists than goals, which demonstrates that he’s the better player.  If Smith had JT Brown and Travis Oleksuk on his line, he’d probably have more assists too I think.  

    Overall, I think Smith deserves a spot in the Hobey Hat Trick, but his chances of winning are pretty slim in my opinion.  Connelly’s chances are much greater, but he might lose some votes because he plays on such an explosive line, which may open the way for Abbott or whoever else is in the final three.  Who knows? Either way, it seems to be shaping up to be one of the more intriguing Hobey races in recent memory because there’s no clear front runner. 

    •  Your forgetting Abbott, who has more points then Both, plays on a weaker team than Connelly, had a much harder schedule than both, had taken his team from 3 wins in first 11 to more than likely making the tourny (Connelly team would of made it without him)

      Abbott deserves it this year.

  6. You are really hooked on Connolly, you have almost guaranteed he is going to win it. Spender goes against the best competition in college hockey every weekend, and he still leads the nation in scoring! Not considering he has lead a umaine team that everyone picked to finish 8th in hockey east to a possible home ice quarterfinal, plus nobody picked them to be in the NCAA tourney!! And yet look where they sit!! Correct me if I’m wrong but that right there sums up what the honey baker award is a leader, the best player, great student-athlete, and teammate!

    • One thing that could hurt Abbott is that he has racked up 28.6% of his points in two weekends, playing Vermont and Alabama Huntsville.  Connolly’s biggest weekend was 6 points vs North Dakota.  Connolly has been held scoreless in just 4 games this year, Abbott in 7.  

    • Yes, let’s just hand the NCAA tournament finals to the WCHA and CCHA. In fact, let’s just skip the whole season altogether and just play one big game with the team everyone likes best from these two leagues. We all know that one of them will eventually win it every time, right?

      Sometimes I really wonder if people entirely miss the point of competitive athletics…

    • How many frozen fours have those teams made in the past 5 years? None. Last appearance by an ECAC team was 2003 with Cornell. Compare that to Hockey East, WCHA, and CCHA who all pretty much have at least 1 team in it every year.

  7. Smitty played injured last season after hip surgery. He also had his other hip operated on during the past off-season. This explains the dip in numbers for his junior year. Taking away those injuries one can extrapolate he would have had 20-25 goals and maybe near 45-50 pts last campaign. Just sayin’…

  8. Pairwise Rankings:
    8 teams from the WCHA (4 with a winning % of .500 or above against teams under consideration)
    5 teams from the ECAC (2 with a winning % of .500 or above against teams under consideration)

    -WCHA is a much more competitve league, ECAC had 7 teams that didnt hit 10 confrence wins, compared to only 2 in the WCHA

    -Colgate was 4-7-2 against teams under consideration. The best players perform and win in big games. That includes leading your team to the post season.

    -In my opinion I would say it goes WCHA, Hockey East (to top heavy), ECAC.
    Connolly plays touger competion every night! and after the first round of public voting I would say Connolly and Abbott are locks for the top 3

  9. From the top down, Hockey East is the most competitive league in the country and Abbott has thrived in it. Abbott hands down.


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