Happy Holidays everyone!
College hockey had a week off, but now it’s back to the grind this week, as there are a ton of tournaments, plus one league series, a few nonconference series and a one-game series in Bowling Green.
It’s a veritable feast of hockey all week, with all but one WCHA team in action (Minnesota State is the only one taking the week off).
Anyway, enjoy the games (starting Wednesday!) and here are the picks!
Florida College Classic (Estero, Fla.)
Northern Michigan vs. Cornell (Wednesday), vs. Colorado College/Merrimack (Thursday)
Jack: The Wildcats have just one victory since Nov. 4, and that was a 4-1 win at Alaska Anchorage earlier in December. Cornell is 7-3-1 overall with wins over Quinnipiac and Miami. I don’t think the Wildcats will beat the Big Red, but third place is attainable — especially if they face off against CC. Semis: Big Red 4, Wildcats 1; Third Place: Wildcats 3, Tigers 2
Sean: Holiday tournaments can be a chance for Northern Michigan to get things going. I don’t think they’ll win this tournament but I think they keep it close and start to build some momentum. Semis: Big Red 3, Wildcats 2; Third place: Wildcats 2, Tigers 1
Great Lakes Invitational (Detroit)
Michigan Tech vs. Michigan (Thursday); vs. Western Michigan/Michigan State (Friday)
Jack: Tech is one of the hottest teams in college hockey since their 0-4 start. They’ve played Michigan once before and lost and tied in two close games — a 4-3 loss and a 3-3 tie. I think they can beat them this time around. They seem to have the firepower to knock off Western in the finals, too. Semis: Huskies 4, Wolverines 3; Finals: Huskies 3, Broncos 2
Sean: I’ve always enjoyed the Great Lakes Invitational and Michigan Tech always has one of the strongest — and loudest — fan groups in Detroit. In the final year of Joe Louis Arena it seems fitting that the hosts would get the job done. Semis: Huskies 4, Wolverines 2; Finals: Huskies 5, Broncos 4 (OT)
Three Rivers Classic (Pittsburgh)
Ferris State vs. Robert Morris (Thursday); vs. Boston College/Quinnipiac
Jack: The Bulldogs often seem to have a knack for getting an upset as an underdog. They’ll certainly be one here, with two top-20 teams and the hometown Colonials also in the field. Not sure they’ll be able to beat any of these teams, but I can bet they’ll keep it close. Semis: Colonials 3, Bulldogs 2; Friday: Bobcats 4, Bulldogs 2.
Sean: This is a tournament that could be a statement for Ferris State and the WCHA. I think they send a subtle message by reaching the title game. Semis: Bulldogs 3, Colonials 2; Finals: Eagles 4, Bulldogs 3
Bemidji State at Alaska Anchorage (Friday/Saturday)
Jack: The only league series this weekend. The Beavers have had just one week off this season — it was last weekend for the Christmas break. Now they’re back at it, this time for a tough 10-day road trip that includes a trip to Alaska followed by a jaunt to Bowling Green. They face the Seawolves on the first leg, and although on paper the league’s best defensive team against the league’s worst offensive team looks like an obvious sweep wouldn’t be surprised if the Seawolves get a split against BSU in the midst of this trip. Beavers 3-2, Seawolves 2-1
Sean: Bemidji State gets a trip to Alaska for the holidays, and it’s a chance to continue asserting dominance in the WCHA. I want to give the Seawolves a chance, but my head is telling me to make the smart choice. Beavers 4-2, 3-1
Lake Superior State at Omaha (Friday/Saturday)
Jack: The Lakers haven’t been the same team since starting 6-2-0. Part of that is the unsustainability of scoring 4.5 goals per game like they did in those games. Still, they still have some firepower and have some quality wins (over Michigan and Minnesota State). I think they can steal one from the Mavs. Lakers 4-3, Mavericks 4-2
Sean: I want to believe in Lake Superior State and I think they have an exciting offense when it is clicking. I think we see one of those outbursts this weekend. Mavericks 4-2, Lakers 6-4
RIT at Bowling Green (Friday in Toledo)
Jack: A weird one-off game 24 miles from BG’s campus. A couple of streaky teams here, too: BG was 1-6-1 to start out then reeled off six of eight. RIT won five straight in November and December before getting swept by Providence before the break. I think this game will be close so I’ll go with BG. Falcons 4-3
Sean: This is a de facto home game for Bowling Green, which is playing better lately. I think the Falcons pull this one off. Falcons 4-2
Mariucci Classic (Minneapolis)
Alabama Huntsville vs. UMass (Friday); vs. Minnesota/Mercyhurst (Saturday)
Jack: Don’t sleep on the Chargers. UAH won three of its last four games before the holiday break. They’ve already won seven games — as many as they won all of last season. Still, none of those wins have been against nonconference opponents. I think they’ll manage one against UMass before losing in the finals. Semis: Chargers 3, Minutemen 1; Finals: Gophers 5, Chargers 2
Sean: I’m with Jack on this one, don’t overlook Huntsville. I think they’ll try and send a message in this tournament and pick up their first non-conference win. Semis: Chargers 2, Minutemen 0; Finals: Gophers 4, Chargers 1
Alaska at Notre Dame (Saturday/Sunday)
Jack: The last of the many series in action this weekend. The Nanooks haven’t played the Irish since the final season of the CCHA — the Nanooks swept the series in 2012-13 in South Bend. The Irish are much stronger this season, however, and the Nanooks have struggled. I think that will lead to a ND sweep. Irish 4-1, 4-2
Sean: An old CCHA rivalry renewed. The Irish are at home and have been the strong team this season. Irish 3-1, 4-1