Men’s D-III West weekend picks Jan. 11

Augsburg Hockey vs St. Mary's 11-16-2018 Alex Rodriguez of Augsburg (Kevin Healy/Photo by Kevin Healy for Augsburg)
Alex Rodriguez and Augsburg hope to help paste the first loss of the season on Wisconsin-Stevens Point. (Kevin Healy/Photo by Kevin Healy for Augsburg)

One of the biggest games of the season takes place Friday night when Augsburg hits the road to battle Wisconsin-Stevens Point in a showdown between two nationally ranked teams. The top-ranked Pointers have yet to lose. The No. 4 Auggies have lost just once and are riding a three-game winning streak.

Augsburg features one of the top offenses in the country, scoring 63 goals off 105 assists. Alex Rodriguez leads the MIAC in goals scored (13), while Luke Dietsch has tallied nine goals to go along with 10 assists.

The Pointers have cranked out 68 goals off 110 assists. Like Augsburg, Wis.-Stevens Point is about as balanced as you can get as a hockey team. Carter Roo leads the way with eight goals and eight assists. Tanner Karty has scored four goals and tallied 10 assists. You wonder what will give in what could very well be a high-scoring showdown. The Pointers get the edge at home. Wis.-Stevens Point 5-4

Friday, Jan. 11

Saint John’s at Wisconsin-Eau Claire
The Johnnies are led by Brady Heppner and his nine goals. Andrew Lindgren has been rock solid in goal, fashioning a 1.86 goals-against average. The Johnnies have won two in a row and will need their best effort of the year to get the win over the Blugolds. Unbeaten in its last six, third-ranked Wis.-Eau Claire is looking to keep the momentum rolling in its favor. This is a team with a lot of playmakers. Luke Kohls, Jake Bresser, and Steen Cooper all have 11 assists apiece. Wis.-Eau Claire 4-2

St. Norbert at Marian
The sixth-ranked Green Knights face a big test on the road against a Sabres team hoping to get back into the national poll. Kurt Black has been one of St. Norbert’s better offensive players, punching in eight goals. T.J. Black continues to impress in goal with a 1.50 GAA. St. Norbert is looking to get back on track when it comes to road games. The Green Knights are just 2-3-1 away from home. Marian’s Hunter Vorva is a pretty good goalie in his own right; he owns a 2.15 GAA. The Sabres are hoping to turn things around after dropping two in a row. Nick Monfils has tallied six goals and five assists. St. Norbert 5-3

St. Scholastica at Concordia
The Saints are hoping to get back into the national rankings after losing their last two. A win would give them that opportunity. Cole Golka has scored eight goals. Nick Trenciansky has been solid in goal and gives St. Scholastica a chance to win every night. He has eight wins and 337 saves. Concordia is coming off a big weekend in New York and has shown it can play with anyone. The Falcons are still looking for their first win of 2019 and hope to nail down their first home win of the season as well. Nick Guerra will be a key this weekend. He leads the team in goals, tallying 10 on the season. Concordia 4-3

Friday and Saturday, Jan. 11-12

St. Thomas versus Gustavus Adolphus
It’s a rematch of a 2018 MIAC tournament semifinal. The Gusties pulled off the upset last season and are hoping for the same kind of result this time. This is a big game for both teams, which are tied for fourth place in the conference. Expect a defensive battle. Chris Amsden has been solid between the pipes for the Gusties, allowing 19 goals and making 231 saves. He is 4-4-1. The Tommies can turn to Andrew Rohkohl or Cam Buggrabe. The two have combined for seven wins and more than 300 saves. Offensively, look for Johnny Panvica of St. Thomas and Evan Erickson of Gustavus to be potential difference makers this weekend. Don’t be surprised if at least one game goes to overtime. The winner stays in the hunt for the title. St. Thomas 3-2, 4-3

Saturday, Jan. 12

Saint John’s at Wisconsin-Stevens Point
The Johnnies have to be able to find a way to match the offensive firepower of the Pointers. Kyle Wagner could play a key role in this one. He only has three goals, but he’s dished out 11 assists. Keep an eye on Matt Colford as well. He has four goals and seven assists. The Pointers have 10 different players who have at least 10 points. That’s not easy to deal with, and they are 7-0-1 at home. Wis.-Stevens Point 5-3

Augsburg at Wisconsin-Stout
The Auggies face off against one of the surprise teams of the season in college hockey. Being on the road, the defense has to be on top of its game for the Auggies, who have leaned on the stellar play of Nick Schmit in goal this season. He has won eight games and has stopped 274 shots. The Blue Devils have won their last five and are looking for a statement win. Logan Nelson has scored nine goals and dished out six assists. Tommi Ahlgren has won 10 games in goal. This one could turn out to be a classic. Augsburg 5-4