WCHA Picks: Oct. 6-7

Last weekend was a somewhat soft-open for the college hockey season. All of the teams were in action, but with the exception of Michigan Tech it was a collection of exhibition contests that leave something to be desired.

Tonight we get the real thing, and it’s a big opportunity for the WCHA to make some out-of-conference statements.

Let’s get picking…

Ferris State at/vs. Western Michigan

Jack: The Bulldogs kick off the season with their instate rivals for a home-and-home series. Last season, Ferris started the season with an eight-game winless streak. I think, which severely set the Bulldogs back down the stretch. I don’t think that happens this season. I think they’ll beat the Broncos in their home opener after dropping the first game. Broncos 5-2, Bulldogs 3-2
Sean: Out-of-conference games have been a stumbling block for the WCHA and Ferris State in recent year, and opening the season with a former CCHA rival should add some intensity to this series. I’m calling a slit, with the road team winning each game. Bulldogs 4-2, Broncos 3-1
Northern Michigan at/vs. Lake Superior State
Jack: NMU and LSSU kick off the season with a nonconference home-and-home series. Both teams were middle-of-the pack teams in the WCHA last season, and this one should be a good way to east both teams into the season without (too many) stakes. I’ll pick a split with both teams winning at home. Lakers 4-2, Wildcats 3-2
Sean: Since it’s a non-conference series between two WCHA teams it almost feels like a preseason game. The results matter, but they’ll have much bigger matchups in the future. It’s a nice soft opening for Northern Michigan to break in a new coaching staff, and I think he gets his first win at home. Lakers 3-1, Wildcats 2-1
Alabama Huntsville at Notre Dame
Jack: The Chargers have a brutal schedule to start the year: They’re on the road for eight straight games. A trip to South Bend to start the season is going to be difficult. I’ll go with an upset pick in game two, though. Let’s see if UAH can make things interesting. Irish 4-1, Chargers 1-0
Sean: As Jack pointed out, the schedule is a rough one for Alabama Huntsville. Notre Dame also isn’t an easy place to play. I smell a sweep. Irish 4-2, 5-2
North Dakota at Alaska Anchorage
Jack: The WCHA’s opening weekend, in general, is pretty brutal. Case-in-point: North Dakota is visiting Alaska Anchorage for a two-game series for the first time since leaving the WCHA. Interestingly, though, the Fighting Hawks haven’t exactly dominated the Seawolves in Alaska: They lead the all-time series just 17-14-1. I think the Seawolves will catch the Hawks tired after the long trip and steal one. Fighting Hawks 5-1, Seahawks 3-1
Sean: If Anchorage is going to knock off North Dakota they can do it at home. It’s a long trip for North Dakota and I think Anchorage will be motivated to make a statement in the season-opening series. But I still can’t see North Dakota leaving without a pair of victories. Fighting Hawks 3-1, 2-0
Air Force at Alaska
Jack: This could be another fun series to stay up late for. Air Force returns a bunch from their NCAA tournament team but lost goaltender Shane Starrett. Alaska has a solid defensive corps back. I’m not really sure how to pick these ones in the first week, so I’m going with another split. (Can you sense a theme?) Nanooks 4-1, Falcons 3-2
Sean: I don’t have the best read on Air Force, but I think Alaska has a solid defense heading into this season. It won’t be the most exciting series, but the Nanooks will get it done. Nanooks 3-1, 2-0
IceBreaker Tournament (at Duluth)
Friday: Michigan Tech vs. Union
Jack: The Huskies played well against Wisconsin last weekend, but not well enough to win. The Dutchmen, too, played a game early, falling to Boston U 4-1. I think Tech gets off the schneid first and beats Union in front of what should be a more Husky-friendly crowd in Duluth. Huskies 4-3
Sean: The WCHA desperately needs some out-of-counference success, and after a strong showing against Wisconsin I think the reigning WCHA champions will get the job done against Union. Huskies 3-2
Saturday: Michigan Tech vs. Minnesota Duluth
Jack: I’m picking UMD to beat rivals Minnesota at home. I’m also picking the defending national runners-up to beat Michigan Tech at home in the title game. Bulldogs 5-2
Sean: I’ve also got a Tech-Duluth title game, but I think the Huskies will surprise some people and pull off a close win. Huskies 2-1
St. Cloud State at Minnesota State (Saturday)
Jack: The overwhelming favorite in the WCHA takes on their instate rivals for a one-off game Saturday (they make the return trip to St. Cloud later this season). I think the Mavericks are going to take this one at home. Mavericks 4-3