West picks: Jan. 6

The new year is here and hockey is back in full swing. Below is a look at the picks for some of the games on the schedule for this weekend, including a MIAC showdown between St. Thomas and Saint Mary’s.

Friday, Jan. 6

Wisconsin-Superior (4-9-1) at Concordia (7-4)
The Cobbers come into this matchup with momentum, having won three consecutive games, including a 6-1 victory over Wisconsin-Stout on Dec. 9, as they sit at 1-2 against the WIAC this year. Concordia has scored 33 goals off 50 assists, with 11 goals coming off the power play. Dalton Mills leads the attack with seven goals. The Yellow Jackets are in the midst of a four-game winless streak and have struggled on the road with a 1-5-1 mark. They have given up three or more goals in three of their last four and need a great performance defensively to prevail. Wis.-Superior has allowed 55 goals this season. Concordia 5-2

Wisconsin-Stout (6-7) at Hamline (6-4-2)
With three consecutive losses, Hamline is in dire need of momentum. Still, the Pipers have done a good job of distributing the puck, tallying 66 assists on the 44 goals they have scored. Three players have dished out at least 10 assists, including Mitch McPherson, who has come through with 12. Wis.-Stout has won three of its last four, but is just 2-5 on the road this season in what has been an up and down season. The Blue Devils have managed 40 goals, with Riley Colvard punching in seven. Five other players have scored at least three goals for Wis.-Stout, which is 2-3 against the MIAC. Hamline 4-3

Friday-Saturday, Jan. 6-7

Saint Mary’s (7-4-2, 4-2) vs. St. Thomas (6-3-3, 5-0-1)
The top two teams in the MIAC square off in a crucial series. The Tommies are playing as well as anyone at the moment, losing only once in their last eight games. They are 4-0 at home, which is where this series will start. Both games are expected to be close — the two teams tied at 3-3 at the showcase — as the Tommies and Cardinals boast two of the better defenses in the league. Benjamin Meyers has played the majority of games in goal for the Tommies, fashioning a 5-1-2 mark and 2.33 goals-against average. Saint Mary’s counters with goalie Phil Heinle, who is 4-2-2 with a 2.46 goals-against average. St. Thomas 3-2, Saint Mary’s 4-3

Bethel (1-9-1, 0-3-1) vs. Augsburg (8-2-1, 3-1)
No team is better defensively in the MIAC than Augsburg, which has allowed only 19 goals, and the Auggies will need to be tough defensively to snap out of a two-game funk. Nick Schmit and Jordyn Kaufer have combined to win seven games, and both are giving up less than two goals per game. The Auggies have also been solid at home and on the road with a 7-2 record, which bodes well in this home-and-home series. Bethel lost 5-3 to Augsburg at the showcase and has scored the second-fewest goals in the league, tallying only 26. The Royals have allowed 41 goals and have dropped four consecutive games. Dallas Marvin leads the offense with five goals and four assists and needs a big performance if Bethel is going to pull off an upset. Augsburg 5-2, 6-3

Aurora (3-8, 3-3) at Adrian (8-3-2, 7-1)
Adrian is eager to get back on track after dropping two consecutive games, and playing at home should help its cause. The Bulldogs are 4-2-1 on their home ice this season. Adrian features three of the top goal scorers in the conference, with Trevor Boyd, Bryan Yim, and Vincent Paquette all tallying eight goals apiece. The Bulldogs have scored 60 goals in all. Aurora also comes in struggling, losing its last three games, and it faces a tall order on the road against one of the best teams in the nation. The Spartans are just 1-4 away from home this season and lack the offensive power Adrian has at its disposal, but they do have one of the league’s better goalies in Hunter Vorva, who is 2-5 with a 3.35 goals-against average. His save percentage is .910. Adrian 5-1, 6-2

Lake Forest (8-5, 4-4) vs. Milwaukee School of Engineering (4-4-3, 1-3-2) (2)
Lake Forest has won three of its last four entering this home-and-home series that begins in Milwaukee. The Foresters have winning records at home (5-3) and on the road (3-2) and are ready for the challenge in front of them, especially since they have the top goal scorer in the league in Jack Lewis, who has racked up 11 goals. MSOE is unbeaten in its last three games, winning twice, but has gone only 1-3-1 on the road. Gage Christianson is one of the top scoring threats in the NCHA, tallying seven goals and eight assists. He ranks fifth in the conference in points and will need a big performance to help the Raiders nail down a couple of wins. MSOE 4-3, Lake Forest 4-2

Marian (5-7-1, 3-5) at Northland (5-6-1, 3-4-1)
Marian has lost just once in its last six games, winning four times during the stretch, and the Sabres will look to keep that momentum in their favor. The Sabres haven’t had a lot of luck on the road, going 1-5-1, but they have several offensive threats, including Derek Thorogood (five goals, seven assists) and Gianni Mangone (six goals, five assists). Both give the Sabres a chance to win every time they take the ice. Northland heads into the 2017 portion of its schedule riding a two-game win streak, and this series is a chance for it to keep that momentum rolling. The Lumberjacks are 2-2-1 at home and have one of the better goalies in the NCHA in AJ Smith, who is 5-2. He owns a 4.56 goals-against average and has tallied 384 saves. Northland 4-2, Marian 5-3

Saturday, Jan. 7

Wisconsin-Stevens Point at Hamline (6-4-2)
Hamline has an opportunity to make a statement. The Pipers are 2-1-1 against WIAC opponents and a win over the Pointers would go a long way in providing momentum in the second half. Defense will be vital to the success of the Pipers, who have given up 42 goals. Justin Quale has played the majority of time in goal, going 3-3-1 with a 2.80 goals-against average. The Pointers feature one of the best offenses in the nation, ranking eighth as they average 4.38 goals per game. A total of 21 players have scored points this season. Lawrence Cornellier and Jacob Barber have scored eight goals apiece for the reigning national champs. Wis.-Stevens Point, 7-3

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