West D-III weekend picks: Oct. 26

Cory Dunn of Adrian (Mike Dickie)
Cory Dunn of Adrian (Mike Dickie)

It’s only October, but one of the biggest games of the year will take place this weekend when Adrian plays a two-game series against Utica that begins Friday night. Both teams are nationally ranked. The Bulldogs are fourth, and the Pioneers are seventh.

Adrian has one of the best goalies in the nation in Kevin Entmaa, who won 16 games last season, and Cory Dunn is coming off a year where he dished out 27 assists. The Bulldogs also have their top goal scorer back in Trevor Boyd. He came through with 17 goals last season

Utica lost two All-Americans, but welcomes back Conor Landrigan and Patrick Virtanen. The Pioneers tied a school record with 21 wins last season. Adrian 5-3, Utica 4-3

Friday, Oct. 26

St. Thomas vs. Saint John’s
Nothing beats a rivalry game, no matter what time of the year it takes place. St. Thomas and Saint John’s square off Friday night in the MIAC Showcase. Not only are they rivals, but they are two of the top contenders for the league championship. The Tommies are picked to win the title and return two of their best players in Johnny Panvica and Brett Gravelle. The two scored 14 goals apiece a year ago. Saint John’s welcomes back several key players as well, including Brady Heppner, who finished with 24 points as a sophomore last season. The Johnnies swept the series last year. The Tommies haven’t forgotten. St. Thomas 4-3

Gustavus Adolphus vs. Saint Mary’s
The Gusties made it to the playoffs for the first time in four years last season and reached the title game. They have one of the best young players in the game in Caleb Anderson, who was an All-MIAC rookie and dished out 10 assists as a freshman. The Cardinals are picked near the bottom of the league preseason poll, but finished strong last season, going 6-2-2 over their final 10 games. Kyle Meeh is among the top returning players. He finished with eight goals and eight assists a year ago, with four coming off the power play. Gustavus Adolphus 4-3

Concordia at Wisconsin-River Falls
The Falcons are coming off a 16-win season, and their top seven point scorers are back. Leading the way is Braydon Barker, who finished with six goals and 24 assists. Dante Hahn returns as well and finished with 10 goals last season. Nick Malvin returns in goal after making 629 saves. Wis.-River Falls returns 16 players, including Eddie Matsushima, Joe Drapluk, and Zach Quinn. The three were All-MIAC selections last season. Matsushima led the team in goals and assists, tallying 14 in both categories, while Drapluk finished third in goals with 10. Quinn fashioned a 2.83 goals-against average. Wis.-River Falls, 3-2

Aurora at Wisconsin-Stevens Point
The Spartans are hoping for better luck this season after winning only five games last year. Drew Doyon, Liam Stirtzinger, and Brendan Logan are all back for the Spartans. Doyon was the second-leading scorer last year, tallying eight goals and six assists. Logan racked up six goals, and Stirtzinger scored five goals. The Pointers reached the Frozen Four last season and have the WIAC’s best player in Tanner Karty, who scored 22 goals and dished out 26 assists. Stephan Beauvais finished with 10 goals and 12 assists and was one of the best defenseman in the conference. Wis.-Stevens Point, 6-2

Saturday, Oct. 27

Hamline vs. Augsburg
The Pipers are eager to get off on the right foot and have high hopes for a winning season. Mitch McPherson will provide a huge boost to the offense. He scored 15 goals last season, the most in the conference. Augsburg is coming off a year where it won the conference tournament championship. The Auggies bring back a lot of talent from that squad, including Nick Schmit, who fashioned a 2.23 goals-against average, and they are looking to make another run at the title and NCAA tournament. Augsburg 5-2

Lake Forest at Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Lake Forest has a lot of experience. The Foresters have seven players back who hit double figures in points last season. That group includes Aaron O’Neill, who was on the All-NCHA freshman team last year. Louis-Philippe De Courcy was among the best in the nation in save percentage and goals-against average, helping the Foresters win 15 games. Wis.-Eau Claire brings back several of its top players and is hoping to contend in the WIAC this season. Among them are Adam Parsells, who was the top newcomer in the WIAC last season. He tallied three goals and dished out 10 assists. Jake Bresser is back as well after tallying nine goals and seven assists. Wis.-Eau Claire 5-4