NCHC picks: Oct. 18

Emilio Pettersen of Denver, Providence at Denver at Magness Arena, Nov. 24, 2018 (Candace Horgan)
Emilio Pettersen and No. 1 Denver will face No. 6 Boston College for two games. (Candace Horgan)

It’s one week in, but I have a one-game lead on Matt in our season picks race for the six pack of beer. Picking Minnesota to sweep worked out, as Matthew got the dates of the sweep reversed.

This weekend’s action has a couple of big series. North Dakota will look to build on its momentum against No. 2 Minnesota State, No. Minnesota Duluth faces No. 17 Wisconsin, and new No. 1 Denver hosts No. 6 Boston College for a pair.

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 18-19

No. 6 Boston College at No. 1 Denver
Candace: This is Denver’s first home series of the year. Goaltender Magnus Chrona has played well out of the gate, and Denver’s offense seems to be back to form, though it’s only four games in. The Eagles have a lot of upperclassmen in the lineup that should provide a leadership and stability. This is likely a split. Denver 4-2, Boston College 4-3
Matthew: This should be a fun series between teams that have started out on unbeaten if imperfect spells. Denver has an advantage in finally being back at home after going straight from Alaska to Michigan last week, but the Pioneers won’t have everything their way here. A split would be no bad thing for either team. Denver 4-2, Boston College 4-2

No. 3 Minnesota Duluth at No. 17 Wisconsin
Candace: Duluth struggled a bit last weekend in splitting with UMass Lowell. Wisconsin lost an offensive showdown against Boston College before returning the favor next night against Merrimack 11-5. Minnesota Duluth wins with defense, and while Wisconsin has two explosive first-year players in Cole Caufield and Alex Turcotte. Something tells me those two won’t be scoring with the same prolific ease they did last weekend. I’m going with Duluth to sweep in two close games. Minnesota Duluth 3-2, 3-2
Matthew: UMD had an down-and-up series the first time out at home against UMass Lowell, but now they travel to a Wisconsin team that scored an unreal 11 goals in its last game. Duluth has good goaltending, but this should be a tight series regardless of how it pans out. Wisconsin 3-2, Minnesota Duluth 3-2

Omaha at No. 12 Ohio State
Candace: Omaha opened well against Alabama Huntsville, but Ohio State presents a much different challenge, especially since the Buckeyes are at home. I don’t feel quite strong enough about the Mavericks this early in the year, but a split wouldn’t surprise me. Ohio State 3-2, 4-2
Matthew: Omaha is a very young team with a dozen newcomers, but while I have a feeling the Mavericks will be a tougher out this season than they were last year, this weekend might not go so well for them. Ohio State is fresh off winning the IceBreaker in Toledo, and I like the Buckeyes to continue their unbeaten start. Ohio State 4-2, 4-2

Ferris State at Miami
Candace: Miami is winless to start the season. That will end this weekend, but I don’t think the RedHawks are fully in sync enough for me to pick a sweep. Ferris State 4-2, Miami 4-3
Matthew: Ferris has had a better start to the season results-wise, and as much as I want to take the homer pick, I think the Bulldogs will get something in Oxford. At the same time, though, even a split would be welcome for a Miami team looking to get its new coach his first win behind the RedHawks’ bench. Ferris State 4-2, Miami 4-3

No. 16 North Dakota at No. 2 Minnesota State
Candace: Coach Brad Berry talked in his interview this week about needing to get a strong start this weekend and learning lessons from last year’s series against the Mavericks. North Dakota also seems to have found its offense, but Minnesota State presents a much tougher challenge. I think this will be a split, but picking the right nights has me stumped. Minnesota State 3-2, North Dakota 3-2
Matthew: Minnesota State is 23-1 in its last 24 home games, and getting even a split there would be more impressive for UND than the Fighting Hawks’ home sweep last weekend against Canisius was. The Hawks proved that they know where the net is, though, and that could put them in a good place in Mankato. Chances are, you’d be happy with a split from this one. North Dakota 4-2, Minnesota State 4-2

No. 14 Western Michigan versus Bowling Green (home-and-home)
Candace: In this case, I’m being a league homer. Bowling Green is a solid team, but I’m not sure they are NCAA tournament worthy again. Western Michigan should continue its strong start. Western Michigan 3-2, 4-2
Matthew: Three games in eight days against the same team has to be a bear, and winning all three would be some feat. Western won the first game last week at the IceBreaker, but I’m not sure they sweep this weekend. Bowling Green 4-2, Western Michigan 3-1