NCHC picks: Jan. 2

Liam Finlay of Denver. Merrimack vs. Denver at Magness Arena, Dec. 29. 2017. (Candace Horgan)
Liam Finlay and Denver host Massachusetts this weekend. (Candace Horgan)

Matthew and I were a fairly dismal 2-4 (.333) last week. First weeks back are always rough. Hopefully, we can do better this time. On the year, I am now 48-38-13 (.550), while Matthew is 45-41-13 (.520).

Friday-Saturday, Jan. 3-4

No. 9 Massachusetts at No. 7 Denver
Candace: This has intensity written all over it. I’d imagine DU is eager for revenge from last year’s Frozen Four. The last time DU played a Hockey East team, I shied from predicting them to sweep, so I’m taking a chance. Denver 3-2, 3-2
Matthew: This should be a very fun series. UMass has done better in recent weeks, but I’m not worried about Denver even though December was a bit tough on the Pioneers. This will probably be a split. Massachusetts 3-2, Denver 3-2

Alabama Huntsville at No. 1 North Dakota
Candace: North Dakota will lose at some point in the second half, but it won’t be this weekend. North Dakota 4-2, 4-2
Matthew: I have a lot of time with Alabama Huntsville, having watched them in person several times when the old CHA conference tournament was held in my home state, and I’ve seen the Chargers a fair amount since then. I want nothing for the best for that program, but UND is a tough draw for them and indeed a lot of teams right now. North Dakota 4-1, 4-1

Omaha at Maine
Candace: Omaha has been struggling of late, and Maine hasn’t lost at home yet this year, but I don’t know that adds up to a Maine sweep. I’m struggling with this one. Maine 4-2, 3-2
Matthew: Omaha started the season really well, but that feels like some time ago now, especially with the Mavericks winning two of their last eight games. They’re visiting a Maine team that is unbeaten at home this season, but the Black Bears are 1-3-1 in their last five. This feels like a split, but who knows who would win which night? Omaha 3-1, Maine 3-1

Friday-Sunday, Jan. 3, 5

No. 19 Western Michigan vs No. 15 Notre Dame (home-and-home)
Candace: I have trouble seeing Western sweep this, so picking the home team for each game seems like the safer bet. Notre Dame 3-2, Western Michigan 4-2
Matthew: My usual deal with home-and-homes is to take the home teams, and although we haven’t seen Western at its best, I’m going that way again. Notre Dame 3-2, Western Michigan 3-2