West picks: Feb. 2

The final month of the season has arrived. Here’s a look at some of the big games ahead this weekend and predictions on those matchups.

Friday, Feb. 2

Saint John’s at Augsburg
The Johnnies are within striking distance of the first-place Auggies in the conference standings and will square off one last time in the regular season on Saturday night at Augsburg. Both teams are solid defensively. Saint John’s has given up only 43 goals. Augsburg has given up 49. This matchup features two of the best netminders in the MIAC in Andrew Lindgren (1.68 goals-against average) and Nick Schmit (2.11 GAA). This is a game likely to be decided by which team plays best in goal. Augsburg 4-3

St. Scholastica at No. 1 St. Norbert
The Green Knights have eight players who have scored seven or more goals, including Keegan Milligan, who has scored a team-high 10. They’ll need to be on top of their game offensively to slow down the Saints, who defeated the Green Knights, 4-3, last month. St. Scholastica has lost its last two, but has played well for the most part, winning 10 of its last 12 overall. Kyle Star is the team leader in points, tallying five goals and 14 assists. St. Norbert 5-3

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 2-3

St. Thomas at St. Olaf
A huge home-and-home series for these two teams. The Tommies are looking to extend their five-game winning streak and remain in contention for the MIAC championship. The Oles have an opportunity to improve their playoff chances. They are currently tied with Saint Mary’s for the sixth and final playoff spot. St. Thomas has thrived defensively, allowing only six goals during the streak thanks to the solid goalie play of Benjamin Meyers, who has a 1.81 GAA. He has 418 saves. St. Olaf, with one win in its last seven, is led offensively by Drew Otto, who has tallied seven goals and eight assists. St. Thomas 3-1, 4-2

Marian vs. Lawrence
It’s the Battle of Highway 41 and both teams have a lot riding on the home-and-home weekend series as both are still very much alive in the playoff hunt. Both could be as high as the No. 2 seed in the North Division. The Sabres have won three in a row and are led by the impressive play of Derek Thorogood, who has come through with 21 goals and 14 assists. The series begins at Lawrence, and Marian is 7-2 on the road this year. Lawrence has won its last two and is 5-3 at home. Lane King has tallied 13 goals and 19 assists to pace the Vikings offensively. Expect both games to be close. Lawrence 5-3, Marian 4-2

Saturday, Feb. 3

Northland at No. 3 St. Norbert
The Lumberjacks have already beaten the Green Knights once. They need a win because if they lose two more games, they are knocked out of the playoff picture, but they also still have a shot at being the No. 2 seed in the North. Northland has lost its last two games. Lucas DeBenedet has come through with 12 goals and 13 assists this season to pace Northland. Despite dropping three of its last four, St. Norbert still controls its fate as far as the No. 1 seed in the North is concerned. The Green Knights have scored 80 goals as a team, and T.J. Black owns a 1.62 GAA. He has tallied 475 saves. St. Norbert 4-3