West picks: Oct. 27

Friday, Oct. 27

Saint John’s vs. Bethel
The Johnnies are picked third in the preseason poll. The Royals are slated to finish last. The Johnnies return just over 80 percent of their offense, including first team All-MIAC pick Sam Valerius. The Royals are hoping for a turnaround season, and the return of Kurtis Redding should help that cause. Saint John’s 4-2

Wisconsin-River Falls at Concordia (Wis.)
One thing is for sure in this game: the Falcons are going to win. It’s just a matter of which Falcons. Wis.-River Falls returns 10 letter winners and will be led Joe Drapuk, who tallied eight goals and four assists a year ago. Wis.-River Falls also has a solid goalie in Zach Quinn, who won 10 games last year. Concordia appears poised for another winning season. Stefen Steel and Connor Hogg will be crucial to the team’s success. Wis.-River Falls 3-2

No. 11 Wisconsin-Eau Claire at Milwaukee School of Engineering
The Blugolds won 18 games for the fifth time in six years last season and have two of their best scorers back in Colton Wolter and Todd Koritzinsky. The two combined for 20 goals, with Wolter scoring 11 and finishing with 24 points. MSOE won’t be a pushover; it has nine players back who tallied 10 or more points, and James Ring paved the way with seven goals and 18 assists. Zach Woodman returns at goal after fashioning a 2.78 goals-against average last year. Wis.-Eau Claire 4-2

Saturday, Oct. 28

Gustavus Adolphus vs. Concordia
The Gusties return seven of their top 10 scorers from a year ago, with Colin Hernon and Evan Erickson leading the way. They scored seven goals apiece. Concordia returns two of its best scoring threats in Zach Doerring and Jon Grebosky. Hamline 5-2

No. 15 St. Thomas vs. St. Olaf
The Tommies are the favorite in the USCHO poll and a traditional power in the conference. Nineteen players are back for the Tommies. The group includes All-American and MIAC Player of the Year Thomas Williams and All-American goalie Benjamin Myers. St. Olaf won only seven games last year and is banking on the return of leading scorer Drew Otto to help pave the way to a successful year. St. Thomas 6-1

No. 11 Wisconsin-Eau Claire at Lake Forest
The Blugolds have a lot of weapons, but the Foresters hardly have an empty talent cupboard. Bron Loiselle and Connor Duncan were two of the top three scorers from last season, and this was a team that won 16 games a season ago. The Foresters should be one of the better teams in the NCHA again this season. Wis.-Eau Claire 5-3

Wisconsin-River Falls at Milwaukee School of Engineering
The Falcons face a big test on the road. Defense will be the key to passing it. The Engineers have the talent to compete with the Falcons, and this one should be a hard-fought battle from start to finish. Milwaukee School of Engineering 3-2

Wisconsin-Stout at Aurora
Wisconsin-Stout welcomes back 13 letter winners, and with 12 wins a year ago, is coming off its best season since 2010-11, when it won 16 games. Defensemen Joe Kleven and Mathias Ahman are both back and combined to score eight goals. Aurora is looking to take steps forward after a four-win season and returns two of its better scorers in Liam Stirtzinger and Brendan Logan. Wis.-Stout 4-2

Sunday, Oct. 29

Augsburg vs. Concordia
The Auggies won the MIAC tournament and played in the NCAA tourney. Expectations are high again. Nate Flynn is coming off a remarkable year where he was the team’s leading scorer, and Nick Schmit is one of the best goalies in the league. Augsburg 4-2

No. 15 St. Thomas vs. Hamline
The Tommies will face a big test against the Pipers, who are expected to be one of the top teams in the league. Hamline is experienced, as nine seniors are on the roster. The Pipers also have the top goal-scoring threat in the league in Russ Jordan. St. Thomas 3-2

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