Conference playoff season is upon us, and it might be the most fun part of college hockey in my humble opinion. The best-of-three series, to me, most closely resemble “playoff hockey” — there’s something about playoff series rather than single-elimination tournaments that rewards consistency rather than puck luck. (Of course, those winner-take all elimination games can be a lot of fun, too, especially when both teams are evenly-matched.)
Anyway, we’ve got four playoff series this weekend in the WCHA.
On to the picks:
No. 8 Alaska at No. 1 Minnesota State
It might look like the Nanooks are in trouble here, considering the Mavericks are on such a tear at the moment. But Alaska was the last team to beat Minnesota State before the Mavs went on their 11-game unbeaten streak. I think they’ll give two pretty good games but the Mavs will pull away in both for the sweep. Mavericks in two
No. 7 Alabama Huntsville at No. 2 Northern Michigan
If Northern Michigan could have chosen their first-round opponent, I’d bet they would have picked anybody but the Chargers. UAH gave the Wildcats fits during the regular season, splitting with them in four games during the regular season. Josh Kestner scored four goals in those games. So, yeah, the Wildcats are probably not enthused to see them in the first round. Still, NMU has been great at home this season, losing only twice in Marquette, so I think they get it done — but it won’t be a sweep. Wildcats in three.
No. 6 Ferris State at No. 3 Bowling Green
A rematch of last season’s quarterfinal matchup, which the Falcons won fairly handily. The Bulldogs haven’t played terribly well in the second half of the season but are coming off a sweep. Still, the Falcons have also been sneakily solid in the second half without many of the accolades that the top two seeds were getting. I think they’ll advance. Falcons in two
No. 5 Michigan Tech at No. 4 Bemidji State
This is without a doubt the most intriguing series of the weekend. On paper, I think the Beavers and the Huskies match up well with one another. Plus, they just faced off less than a month ago in Houghton, with BSU winning the opener 4-2 and Tech taking the second game 5-1. I think this is the ultimate toss up, but if I have to pick, I’ll say the Beavers in three due to the fact that they’re at home. Beavers in three