West picks: Jan. 27

Every game counts a little more at this point in the season as January winds down. Augsburg is looking to maintain control of first place in the MIAC standings while Saint John’s and St. Thomas write the latest chapter of their rivalry.

Wisconsin-Superior will be tested against both Wisconsin-Stout and Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the WIAC, while Adrian aims to bounce back on the road against Lawrence after being swept by St. Norbert last weekend.

Below are picks for the top games of the weekend.

Friday, Jan. 27

Wis.-Superior (6-12-1, 0-2) at Wis.-Stout (9-8-2, 1-1)
Wis.-Superior has won only twice in its last nine games and is hoping to get back on track with a big road win. The Yellow Jackets are also seeking their first WIAC win of the year. They have scored 58 goals, two more than the Blue Devils have scored this season. Wis.-Stout has won two of its last three and is looking to stay in contention for a conference title, which means this is a must-win game for the Blue Devils. Riley Colvard leads the offense with eight goals and six assists. Wis.-Superior will counter with an offensive threat of its own in Daniel Litchke, who has come through with 14 goals and three assists on the season. Wis-Stout 5-3

Friday-Saturday, Jan. 27-29
 
Saint Mary’s (10-7-2, 6-4) vs. Augsburg (12-3-2, 6-1-1) (home-and-home)
The Auggies have won two in a row and enter the weekend with a two-point lead over third-place Saint Mary’s in the conference standings. Augsburg is averaging nearly four goals per game and is also solid defensively, with goalie Nick Schmit owning a league-best goals-against average of 1.65. He has seven wins and has tallied 241 saves. The defense will be tested by the Cardinals, who are led offensively by Bob Kinne. Kinne ranks third in the league in points (19) and has the second-most goals in the MIAC (11). Chad Cesarz has been sensational as well, scoring 10 goals this season. Augsburg 5-4, Saint Mary’s 6-5
 
Saint John’s (10-6-3, 5-3-2) vs. St. Thomas (10-7-2, 6-1-1) (home-and-home)
The Johnnies and Tommies are fierce rivals and intensity won’t be in short supply when the two square off in a crucial MIAC series. Saint John’s is playing well, winning its last two. The Johnnies scored five goals in each of those two wins. Their goalie isn’t bad either, with Andrew Lindgren fashioning a goals-against average of 1.93 in seven games. He has won three games. Of course, Saint John’s can also lean on Tyler Nelson in goal. Nelson has a 2.52 goals-against average and has won seven games. The Tommies pride themselves on playing great defense as well. Benjamin Myers has seen the majority of time in goal, playing in 13 games. He has won seven times and owns a 2.26 goals-against average. They are eager for their first win in three games and know both games are crucial, as they sit just a point out of first place. St. Thomas 3-2, Saint John’s 4-2
 
Adrian (12-5-2, 11-3) at Lawrence (5-10-2, 4-6-2)
The Bulldogs are still stinging from the back-to-back losses they suffered against St. Norbert and are hoping a pair of road games against the Vikings will get them back on track. Adrian features two of the top goal scorers in the league in Trevor Boyd and Bryan Yim, who have scored 12 and 11 goals, respectively. Cory Dunn leads the NCHA in points, dishing out an NCHA-best 20 assists. Adrian hasn’t lost more than two in a row all season and it’s unlikely the trend will change this week. Lawrence has dropped its last two games as well and has lost five of its last six overall. The Vikings have shown they can play with the best, tying St. Norbert once and losing by only a goal in the second game against the Green Knights. Evan Cline is one of the top goalies in the league, fashioning a goals-against average of 2.39. Adrian 5-2, 4-2
 
Concordia (9-7-1, 6-5-1) vs. St. Norbert (14-2-1, 10-1-1) (home-and-home)
The Falcons are in dire need of a win after losing three consecutive games. Squaring off against the No. 1 team in the nation might not be the best opportunity for Concordia to end that streak. Jim Pearson has tallied nine goals and dished out four assists for an offense that has cranked out 51 goals in all. St. Norbert is on top of the world and looking like a national championship contender, especially after sweeping Adrian. Tanner Froese leads the high-powered offense of the Green Knights, scoring 11 goals. St. Norbert has been tough defensively as well, allowing only 23 goals thanks to the effort of goalies T.J. Black and Tony Kujava. St. Norbert 4-1, 5-2

Marian (10-8-1, 8-6) vs. Milwaukee School of Engineering (7-6-4, 4-5-3)
This is a huge series for the Sabres, who are currently in second place in the NCHA South Division. They have won five of their last six and are looking to knock off a Raiders team eager to climb back into the upper half of the standings. MSOE has momentum for sure, having won its last two games. Marian has one of the best goalies in the league in Mike Baldwin, who has won nine games and owns a 2.93 goals-against average. The Sabres have given up 63 goals in all this season. MSOE has allowed 54 goals while featuring one of the best offensive threats in the league in Gage Christiansen, who has scored 11 goals and dished out 10 assists. MSOE 3-2, Marian 4-2

Saturday, Jan. 28

Wis.-Superior (6-12-1, 0-2) at Wis.-Eau Claire (14-4-3, 3-1
The Yellow Jackets have allowed the most goals in the league (66) and are up against a Blugolds team on Friday night that ranks second in goals scored (81). Generating scoring opportunities won’t be easy. Anton Svensson, who has eight goals and 14 assists on the season, needs a big game for Wis.-Superior. Patrick Moore has been phenomenal for Wis.-Eau Claire, racking up 12 goals to go along with 20 assists. He anchors an offense in which 11 players have tallied 10 or more points. The Blugolds also have a goalie in Jay Deo who ranks first in the WIAC in saves with 457 on the season. Deo has won 14 games this season. Wis.-Eau Claire 6-2

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