NCHC picks: Oct. 25-26

Scott Perunovich of Minnesota Duluth. Minnesota Duluth at Denver at Magness Arena, November 17, 2018. (Candace Horgan)
Scott Perunovich and Minnesota Duluth will look to get their defensive mojo back against in-state rival Minnesota. (Candace Horgan)

Matthew has leapfrogged me after two weeks, as I was a dreadful 2-9-1, and Matthew a more respectable 5-6-1. On the year, I am now 8-12-5 and Matthew is 10-10-5. Hey, batting .500 is good enough to start the year.

Let’s see if I can recover from my awful week last week. Unfortunately, Matthew and I see eye to eye.

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 25-26

No. 11 Northeastern at No. 14 St. Cloud State
Candace: I was impressed in the opening weekend that St. Cloud still has a good offense, but the defense seems to miss the steadying presence of Jimmy Schuldt. I’m sure that will improve. Northeastern tied Holy Cross last weekend, but given the Crusaders also beat Providence, perhaps that’s not a bad tie. I think this is a split. St. Cloud State 4-2, Northeastern 3-2
Matthew: This is a pretty good choice for USCHO to spotlight this week. I’m not put off by SCSU’s pair of ties last weekend at Bemidji State, but I’m very curious to see if Northeastern can keep up its unbeaten start in St. Cloud. SCSU has a regular-season championship banner to raise and a statue of Herb Brooks to unveil this weekend, and the home Huskies will want to put on performances that live up to the festivities going on away from the ice. Hard to pick a sweep, though. St. Cloud State 4-2, Northeastern 3-2

Michigan State at Colorado College
Candace: Home ice and altitude may help the Tigers get the sweep. Chris Wilkie and Nick Halloran looked very impressive in CC’s opening weekend against Minnesota, and except for a defensive blip in the late part of the second period, CC may very well have come away with a sweep against the Gophers. Colorado College 3-2, 4-2
Matthew: Colorado College can’t be too disappointed with a split with Minnesota, and the Tigers are rested after taking last weekend off. Michigan State may well be better this season, but the Spartans aren’t what they have been in the past. This might be going out on a limb slightly, but I’ll take CC to sweep. Colorado College 4-2, 4-3

Miami at Colgate
Candace: A new coach hasn’t yet improved Miami’s fortunes. I don’t think Colgate is quite strong enough to sweep though. Colgate 3-2, Miami 3-2
Matthew: I want to give Miami some love here, but considering three of Colgate’s first five games were against ranked teams, the Raiders’ 1-3-1 record is maybe a little misleading. I’ll take a split here, and I don’t think the RedHawks would be overly disappointed with that, either. Colgate 3-1, Miami 3-1

No. 18 Western Michigan versus Michigan (home-and-home)
Candace: Western really struggled last weekend against Bowling Green, just days after beating the Falcons convincingly in the Icebreaker. Hard to see this as anything but a split, with each team winning on home ice. Michigan 3-2, Western Michigan 3-2
Matthew: Western Michigan is still ranked after its 1-2-1 start, and while the Broncos are too talented to stay a sub-.500 team, they’ll want to get going pretty quickly here. Hey, at least they aren’t playing Bowling Green anymore. Split. Michigan 4-2, Western Michigan 4-2

No. 8 Minnesota Duluth versus No. 20 Minnesota (home-and-home)
Candace: There’s not need for the Bulldogs faithful to be panicking just yet, but UMD can’t afford to get swept again, especially against a Big Ten squad. I think UMD will get a split, each team winning on home ice, although UMD has brought its best against their in-state rivals of late. Minnesota 4-3, Minnesota Duluth 4-3
Matthew: I look at Duluth in a similar way to how I look at Western. The Bulldogs are back-to-back defending national champions, but like WMU, they’re too good to stay down after what has been a not ideal start to the season. Home teams win here, I think. Minnesota 3-2, Minnesota Duluth 3-2

Bemidji State at No. 16 North Dakota
Candace: North Dakota looked impressive in its opening weekend, and followed it up with a solid outing on the road against a tough Minnesota State team. The goals won’t come as freely against the stingy Beavers, but I like UND to sweep in a rocking Ralph Engelstad Arena. North Dakota 3-2, 4-2
Matthew: UND looked good in its home sweep two weeks ago against Canisius. That said, nobody should be discouraged by the Fighting Hawks only getting a loss and a tie at Minnesota State because, well, almost no visiting team wins in Mankato. This will be a tough series against a well-organized Bemidji team, but I like UND to grind out two wins. North Dakota 3-2, 3-2