D-III West weekend picks Nov. 16-18: Top five battles with Wis.-Stevens Point, St. Norbert, Wis.-Eau Claire

Carter Roo of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (Wisconsin-Stevens Point Athletics)
Carter Roo leads in goals scored for Wisconsin-Stevens Point (Wisconsin-Stevens Point Athletics)

Wisconsin-Stevens Point has long been a national power. Marian is relatively new to the national rankings, but has shown it can be as good as any team when it’s on top of it’s game. On that note, this showdown between the Pointers and Sabres Friday night at Marian will be interesting to say the least.

The Pointers have yet to lose and have scored 25 goals while allowing only 11. A Frozen Four team a year ago, they are balanced as usual, with Luke McElhenie leading the way with three goals and four assists. Carter Roo and Zach Zech are tied for second on the team in points with six. Roo has punched in four goals to go along with two assists, while Zech has racked up two goals and four assists. Connor Ryckman has anchored the team in goal, starting five games and winning all five. He owns a 1.81 goals-against average and has made 101 saves.

Marian is perfect through four games and has a chance to make a big-time statement. Clay Cross has played a key role early on, scoring three goals and dishing out two assists. Hunter Vorva has started all four games in goal and has made 101 saves. Marian 5-4

The Pointers face another big test Saturday when they take on St. Norbert in a game worthy of being played on the final weekend of the season. The Green Knights are off to a quiet start by their standards, but will present a challenge, especially being at home. T.J. Black will have to be ready to roll between the pipes facing one of the better offenses in the nation. He has allowed just nine goals and has made 104 saves. Both games the Pointers play could go a long way as far as the NCAA tournament is concerned, especially with the WIAC not having an automatic bid. Wis.-Stevens Point 4-3

Friday, Nov. 16

No. 5 Wisconsin-Eau Claire at No. 4 St. Norbert
The Blugolds put their unbeaten record on the line Friday night against the Green Knights, who certainly won’t be looking ahead to that matchup with Wis.-Stevens Point on Saturday. Wis.-Eau Claire has hung its hat on great defense, giving up just eight goals thanks to the stellar play of Zach Dyment in goal. He has won all seven games and has made 108 saves. Luke Kohls has paved the way offensively with four goals and four assists. Jake Bresser has racked up seven assists and has also scored a goal. The Green Knights have already lost two games, but always come ready to play and are still one of the nation’s best teams. They have to be able to get their offense going against the Blugolds. Riley Christensen leads the team in goals with five. Dominick Sacco has come through with three goals and two assists. The Green Knights have scored 17 goals in all off 32 assists. Wis.-Eau Claire 3-2

Friday-Saturday, Nov. 16-17

Saint Mary’s vs. No. 13 Augsburg
This home-and-home series begins at Augsburg Friday night. Alex Rodriguez has been an offensive machine for the Auggies, already with 10 points on the season, including seven off goals. Chandler Madry has been a big-time playmaker as well, tallying three goals to go with his five assists. The Cardinals are seeking their first win of the year. It won’t be easy to do against one of the most balanced teams in the MIAC. Tyson Liverance has been a bright spot for Saint Mary’s, racking up four goals and two assists, and he’ll have to play well for Saint Mary’s to have a shot. Augsburg 5-3, 4-2

Saturday, Nov. 17

Wisconsin-River Falls at Northland
The Falcons travel to take on the Lumberjacks Saturday night. Wis.-River Falls will be looking to keep its momentum rolling. The Falcons are unbeaten in their last four games, tying twice, and Eddie Matsushima has been instrumental in the team’s success with nine goals and three assists. Zach Quinn has started all six games and is 3-1 on the season. He has tallied 138 saves. The Lumberjacks just won their first game and are hoping for the upset. A quick start is key, especially at home, and Lucas DeBenedet could help make that happen. He has scored four goals and dished out two assists to pace the offense. David Krejcik and Victor Forslund have both seen time in goal. Wis.-River Falls 5-3

Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 17-18

Saint John’s vs. St. Olaf
It’s a huge early-season conference showdown between two teams that look like MIAC title contenders. The Johnnies begin this series on the road Saturday before playing host to the Oles Sunday. The Johnnies feature one of the best goalies in the league in Andrew Lindgren, who sports a 1.95 goals-against average. The Oles have a pretty good goalie as well in Noah Parker. He ranks second in the MIAC in GAA with a 2.12 average. Parker is also the league leader in saves (223). Offense could be tough to come by for both teams. Brady Heppner and Davis Kirkendall lead Saint John’s in goals scored with three. Sawyer Jacobson leads the Oles with two goals and two assists. Roshen Jawal has dished out four assists. St. Olaf 3-2, Saint John’s 4-3