We’re back for another week of picks.
After six games last weekend, including a nice sweep by Alabama-Huntsville, all 10 of the WCHA teams are in action this weekend and that includes a pair of league series.
Let’s get started…
Michigan Tech at Minnesota State
Sean: Michigan Tech and Minnesota State shared the WCHA regular season title and both fizzled out in the WCHA tournament during the 2015-16 season. Now both teams have a chance to start strong in WCHA play in a battle of top-20 teams. Michigan Tech opened up the season with a pair of losses to No. 6 Minnesota-Duluth while Minnesota State opens up its slate of official games after exhibition play. I’m envisioning a split.
Huskies 3-1, Mavericks 4-3.
Jack: It was a disappointing weekend for Tech in Duluth last weekend. Now the Huskies have to return to Minnesota to take on Mankato. I think they’ll finally get a win, but not until day two. Huggins leads the Mavs in game 1 with a shutout. Mavericks 3-0, Huskies 4-2
Bowling Green at Bemidji State
Sean: These teams met in the WCHA playoffs last season and Bowling Green won in three games to advance to the WCHA Final Five. For Bowling Green this is the first real game after a too-close-for-comfort 3-2 exhibition win against Windsor, while Bemidji is playing its first game of any sort. As a fan of quality goaltending I’m looking forward to seeing Chris Nell and Michael Bitzer go head-to-head, and see each post a shutout. Falcons 2-0, Beavers 1-0.
Jack:I agree that this seems like a split, although I see it playing out in the reverse: Bowling Green will be without three players on Friday’s game after they were suspended for fighting at the end of the Winsor contest. I think that may give a slight edge to the Beavers, who are also playing their home opener. Beavers 3-0, Falcons 3-0
Alabama-Huntsville at Connecticut
Sean: I had a nice conversation with Huntsville coach Mike Corbett earlier this week and he summed up the Chargers’ surprising season-opening sweep against Ferris State. “We’re writing a long book this season. But the first two pages were pretty damn impressive,” Corbett told me. Pages 3 and 4 come this weekend against a Connecticut team that is in the middle of the of the pack in Hockey East, and it’s a good chance for the Chargers to keep rolling with a sweep. Chargers 4-1, 3-2.
Jack: Another rough road trip for the Chargers, but they showed last week they aren’t a pushover in the WCHA. The Chargers split with UConn when the teams met in Huntsville last season, and I see no reason why UAH won’t get at least one win in Storrs. Another sweep may be too much to ask for, at least at the moment. Chargers 5, Huskies 2; Huskies 4,l Chargers 3
Minnesota at Alaska-Anchorage, Alaska at Alaska-Anchorage, Minnesota vs. Alaska
Sean: This will be a fun 3-in-3 hockey weekend for Alaska hockey fans and rare non-conference game between the Seawolves and Nanooks. For both Alaska programs it’s a good chance to celebrate the sport a time when both are enduring rocky rumors of extinction. Gophers 3, Nanooks 2. Nanooks 4, Seawolves 3. Gophers 5, Seawolves 2
Jack: In lieu of the now-discontinued Kendall Hockey Classic, Anchorage will host the Gophers (coached by former Seawolf coach Don Lucia) and instate rival Nanooks in a three-team round-robin. I agree that the Gophers will win both of their games, but I think the Seawolves will get the win over Nanooks here. Gophers 5, Nanooks 2; Gophers 3, Seawolves 1; Seawolves 4, Nanooks 3.
Western Michigan at/vs Ferris State
Sean: Yes, these teams played last night and Western won 5-3. But we can still pick game two of the series played Kalamazoo. Ferris State needs a strong showing after getting swept by Alabama-Huntsville last week. Bulldogs 4, Broncos 3.
Jack: Ferris has had three agonizing losses and is already 0-3 on the season. Not the kind of start Bob Daniels’ squad wanted. I think they’ll salvage game two tonight and get the split in Kalamazoo, or else they’re in even deeper trouble. Bulldogs 5, Broncos 3
Wisconsin vs. Northern Michigan
Sean: Another WCHA-Big 10 matchup and it should be a good test for Northern Michigan in a neutral sige. Norther Michigan has never lost to WIsconsin, including a sweep a couple years ago. That changes this year, but Wildcats still get a split. Badgers 3-2, Wildcats 4-1.
Jack: A “neutral site” series that actually counts as a home series for the Wildcats (despite being right in Wisconsin’s backyard in Green Bay). NMU is 2-0-2 against the Badgers in in the last two seasons — including a series sweep when the teams met in Green Bay two seasons ago. Wisconsin is a sexy sleeper pick in the B1G this year, but I think the Wildcats do it again and extend their unbeaten streak. Wildcats 3-2, 2-1.