West picks: Nov. 17

Another weekend of hockey is here and the signature matchup on the schedule is a rematch of last season’s national title game, as Wisconsin-Stevens Point hits the road to take on St. Norbert in a game that should be an instant classic. St. John’s and Hamline square off against each other in a crucial MIAC series and Wisconsin-Eau Claire hits the road for two key tests against NCHA opponents.

Thursday-Friday, Nov. 17-18

St. John’s (3-2-1, 1-1) vs. Hamline (4-0-2, 2-0) (home-and-home)
The Pipers have yet to lose and will aim to keep momentum rolling in their direction in this pivotal MIAC series. Mitch Hall, Mitch McPherson, and Brandon Wahlin each have eight points and have played a big part in the early-season success at Hamline. So has goalie Justin Quale, who has won twice and owns a 1.44 goals-against average. St. John’s will look to counter with a power play that has converted 35 percent of the time. Mitch Fritz leads the way with three power-play goals and should play a big role in the outcome of a series that should be tight throughout. Hamline, 3-2, St. John’s 4-3

Friday, Nov.18

Wisconsin-River Falls (1-5-1) at Lake Forest (4-3)
The Falcons opened the year with four consecutive losses and haven’t recovered, but they have a chance to get back on track Friday with a crossover game against the Foresters. Getting the offense going is the key to success. They have managed only 13 goals, with Michael Lant and Joe Drapluk scoring three apiece. The game against the Foresters is the first of three in a row on the road. Jack Lewis will play a big role in Lake Forest’s success. He already has eight goals this season and if he’s on top of his game, the Foresters are difficult to stop. Lake Forest 4-2

Wisconsin-Eau Claire (3-1-2) at Concordia (Wis.) (3-2-1)
Wis.-Eau Claire opens the weekend with a crossover game against the Falcons. The Blugolds are 2-0 against NCHA foes this season, and are solid defending the power play, holding opponents to a 3-of-30 showing this season. The Falcons come in having won two in a row, scoring nine goals in those two wins. They have managed to score 21 goals in all, with Connor Hogg paving the way with four. Wis.-Eau Claire 5-3

Wisconsin-Stout (4-2) at Milwaukee School of Engineering (1-3-2)
The Blue Devils look to build off their early-season success with a big road game against the Raiders Friday night. Riley Colvard (four goals, three assists) leads an offense that has tallied 18 goals. Wis.-Stout scores the majority of its goals in the first two periods, tallying 12 of those 18 in those periods, and needs to get off to a fast start Friday to have a shot at coming away with the road win. The Raiders are off to a tough start and have found it difficult to stop an opposing offense, allowing 20 goals during a five-game winless streak. Matthew Romund needs a big night to put the Raiders in a position to win. He has three goals and three assists on the season. Wis.-Stout 5-3

Friday-Saturday, Nov. 18-19

St. Thomas (3-2-1, 2-0) vs. Bethel (1-5, 0-2) (home-and-home)
The Tommies have won two in a row and are looking to keep their perfect record intact in the MIAC in this home-and-home series with the Royals. Led by Michael Dockery (two goals and four assists), St. Thomas features a fairly balanced offense as five players have come through with at least two goals. The Tommies also have a solid defense, with Benjamin Myers logging the majority of minutes in goal and picking up three wins in four starts. The Royals come in on a three-game losing streak and have allowed four or more goals four times. Bethel did stun Wis.-Stout earlier this year, but will have its hands full trying to pull off an upset in this series. Joe Sheppard and Jesse Garcia have seen nearly equal time in goal for the Royals and will need to step up if the Royals are to prevail. St. Thomas 4-2, 5-2

Gustavus (1-4-1, 0-2) vs. Augsburg (5-0-1) (home-and-home)
The Gusties are winless in their last four, suffering three consecutive losses during the stretch and hope to jump-start their offense against the Auggies. Gustavus Adolphus has managed only four goals in its last three games. Evan Erickson (three goals, two assists) leads the offense in goals scored and needs a big weekend. Gustavus has allowed 19 goals and will need to tighten up on defense to have a chance against an Augsburg team that has yet to lose. The Auggies have won five in a row and feature one of the top offenses in the conference, scoring 22 goals. They have given up only 11. Five players have scored two or more goals and that balance should help keep the Auggies’ streak alive. Augsburg, 5-2, 4-1

Saturday, Nov. 19

Wisconsin-Stevens Point (5-0-1) vs. St. Norbert (5-1-0)
The reigning national champion Pointers hit the road to take on the Green Knights in a battle of the top two teams in the country. The Pointers feature one of the top offenses in the nation. Wis.-Stevens Point is averaging five goals per game and 17 skaters have tallied at least one point, with Jacob Barber racking up six goals and five assists. St. Norbert is paced by Tanner Froese, who has come up with five goals and four assists. Pijus Rulevicious has tallied a goal and seven assists. A close game is expected in the 78th meeting between the two teams. Wis.-Stevens Point 3-2

Wisconsin-Eau Claire (3-1-2) at Lake Forest (4-3)
The Foresters are hoping to nail down another signature win Saturday after beating St. Norbert on the road earlier this season. Playing great defense is vital to the Foresters’ success and they’ll count on Billy Cooper to set the tone. Cooper is 2-2 with a 3.76 goals-against average. Wis.-Eau Claire has put up 23 goals and has allowed just 12. Mac Jansen has fueled the attack with five goals and five assists. Goalie Jay Deo owns a 1.95 goals-against average. This game could go either way. Lake Forest 3-2