Hi everyone! Happy almost-October!
For most, that means carving pumpkins and watching even more football.
But for many of us, that means another thing altogether: The college hockey season is about to begin.
The women’s season started last week, and now it’s the men’s turn for their Oct. 1 openers.
In the WCHA, we’ve got three teams in action in real, live, regular-season hockey. Six other teams get to play exhibition games this week.
Exciting, isn’t it?
We’ll get to our picks shortly, but first, I have an introduction to make: Our new WCHA columnist, Sean Shapiro.
Sean: Thanks for the intro, Jack.
A quick bit about me: I first started writing for USCHO when I was a student at Bowling Green and the program was nearly axed. In four years at BG I covered three different head coaches, including Chris Bergeron who was hired in 2010 and is still on campus.
After five years away from USCHO I’m happy to be back in the fold and covering the WCHA with Jack.
Jack: We’re glad to have you, Sean. Now without further ado, let’s get pickin’.
Alabama Huntsville at Ferris State
Jack: The conference season kicks off immediately with what should be a sneaky good matchup. Ferris State won the conference tournament last season. Huntsville missed the playoffs entirely. I think the Chargers are a better team this year and should hang with Ferris, but I don’t think the Bulldogs will be denied at home. Their first sweep will be much earlier than it was last season. Bulldogs, 4-1, 3-2
Sean: Ferris State turned the WCHA into a one-bid league last season when it marched through the Final Five as the fourth seed. The Bulldogs should build on that and start this season strong against the Chargers. It’ll be a close game early on Friday, but Ferris picks up the sweep. Bulldogs 3-1, 5-2
Michigan Tech at Minnesota Duluth
Jack: The marquee matchup in college hockey this weekend. OK, there are only three regular-season series this weekend, but even if there were 30, this would be a good one. Tech takes the four-hour drive down U.S. Highway 2 for the renewal of this series, which is back on after a one-year hiatus. Duluth is ranked No. 6 in the country, but let’s not count out Tech (plus, the Bulldogs have a knack for losing early-season games in which they are highly ranked). I’ll call this one a split. Huskies 4-2, Bulldogs 3-2
Sean: This is a fun way to start the season. Michigan Tech should have been in the NCAA tournament last season and Minnesota Duluth came up one game short of the Frozen Four. Both teams have had six months to think about those oh-so-close, but yet-so-far finishes. I expect both teams to lock down defensively in Game 1 with the offense catching up in Game 2. Bulldogs 2-1, Huskies 5-4