Weekend picks: Dec. 19-20

Hey guys, Jack checking in.

Home stretch here, and there are some great series this weekend. However, one weird thing I’ve noticed that I don’t like: Too many teams have off weekends in the last month of the season.

This week, Minnesota State takes is idle and Ferris State plays a single nonconference game. Last weekend both Alaska schools, Michigan Tech and Bowling Green were all off in conference play.

Obviously teams need their off weekends, but it’s still strange to me that we have three weeks to go in the regular season and there are two teams (Ferris and MSU) that have played two more games than everybody else.

At least all 10 league teams will be in action for the league’s final two weeks. I just wish we had all league play for the entire month of February — it would make the league race that much more exciting.

Anyway, I’ll stop yelling at the kids to get off my lawn now and get on with the picks.

Alabama Huntsville at Northern Michigan

Shane: The Wildcats have a great opportunity to pull into a tie for fourth place this weekend as they get the chargers Chargers in Marquette where they’re 8-3-3 this season. Huntsville has found a way to get points out of the last four series, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see a tie or two this weekend. Going with wins and losses, though, I’m picking an NMU sweep. Wildcats 2-1, 1-0

Jack: This is Northern Michigan we’re talking about here, Shane, so I think at least one tie (or at least an OT game) is guaranteed. I’m actually going to pick a split here since I think we may actually see a pair of ties. Besides, Huntsville is looking much better right now so I expect a pair of closely-contested, low-scoring games. Wildcats 2-1, Chargers 2-1

Michigan Tech at Bemidji State

Shane: The Huskies should be well-rested after a week off, but will the bye break their momentum as they try to move into a first-place tie with idle Minnesota State? They go to Bemidji on an eight-game unbeaten streak and with just one loss in their last 12 games. The Beavers have struggled at home and need to find a way to turn that luck around. Beavers 3-2, Huskies 4-1

Jack: Weird tidbit: The Huskies are 7-0-3 against the Beavers in their last 10 meetings, and BSU hasn’t beaten Tech since 2011. It’s not like the Huskies have been a powerhouse that entire time, either. I think they’re just one of those teams that has BSU’s number (much like the Beavers have Duluth’s number in the past five years). Either way, I think this is a tough matchup for BSU: Tech is really good on the road and BSU hasn’t played very well at home at all. I think they’ll find a way to get it done this weekend, but it won’t be easy. Huskies 4-2, Beavers 3-1 

Lake Superior State at Alaska Anchorage

Shane: These two teams are separated by just two points in the standings. Both are trying to avoid being caught by the out-of-playoff-position teams. The Lakers got a much-needed win Saturday against Bemidji State, breaking a six-game losing streak, while the Seawolves had a week off. They split a month ago in the Soo. I think they will again. Seawolves 3-2, Lakers 2-1

Jack: Anchorage has won just twice since sweeping Michigan Tech on the road in early December, but one of those wins was against Lake State (the other was against Huntsville). The Lakers just snapped a seven-game losing streak by beating Bemidji. I think a split seems likely, too. Lakers 3-1, Seawolves 3-1

Bowling Green at Alaska

Shane: The Falcons, like Michigan Tech, are hoping to jump up into first place, and seem to have a good opportunity with the trip to ninth-place Alaska. It’s still perplexing to me that the Nanooks are in that spot, even more so that they haven’t won a home game since Nov. 6. That streak has to end, right? Falcons 4-2, Nanooks 2-1

Jack: The Nanooks have three conference wins and two were in their own tournament at the beginning of the season. The other was against Northern Michigan. I think that streak ends too, but not before the Falcons rally from their own poor weekend against Miami. Falcons 5-3, Nanooks 3-1

Ferris State at Michigan

Shane: This Friday-night-only game is the final nonconference game of the season for the WCHA, and it won’t be easy for the Bulldogs going to the sixth-ranked Wolverines. There’s a lot to like about the way Ferris is playing right now, despite Saturday’s home loss to Northern. They can score goals and have the goaltending to back them up. I smell an upset. Bulldogs 4-2

Jack: I love that Ferris and Michigan have continued to keep their rivalry alive despite the conference shakeup: They’ve met for single games in each of the two seasons since the demise of the CCHA. The Bulldogs beat Michigan last season in Big Rapids and the teams tied when they met in Ann Arbor in 2013. I’m not sure if the Bulldogs will be able to keep it up this season in Ann Arbor, but maybe I’ll be wrong. Wolverines4-2

Last week: Shane 1-4-2, Jack 4-1-2. Overall: Shane 99-56-29, Jack 87-68-29