Game Picks: D-III West

Ryan Kero is one of the top offensive threats for Saint John’s this season. (Photo courtesy of Saint John’s Athletics)

The first set of games of 2020 are about to get underway. Wisconsin-Superior opens the weekend against Northland and has an opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the WIAC.

Lake Forest and Trine square off in one of the bigger matchups of the weekend in the NCHA. Saint John’s faces a key test on the road against nationally ranked Hobart in Boston. 

Check out my picks for the weekend below.

Friday’s Games

Northland (3-8. 1-5) at Wisconsin-Superior (9-2-1, 4-2)

The Lumberjacks begin the weekend against a Yellow Jackets team poised to compete for a WIAC title. Kalib Ford leads Northland offensively with three goals and eight assists. UW-Superior has four players ranked in the top 10 in the WIAC in scoring, including Andrew Durham, who has tallied eight goals and four assists. UW-Superior, 5-2

Saturday’s Games

Saint John’s 2-4-4)  vs. Hobart (7-3-1)

The Johnnies hit the road to begin 2020 and are hoping for a great start as they take on the Statesmen in the opening game of the Boston Landing Tournament.

Ranked eighth in the nation, Hobart has scored 46 goals and given up just 23. The Johnnies are looking to make a statement and Kyle Wagner will be counted on to help lead the way. He’s tallied three goals and eight assists while David Kirkendall and Ryan Kero are tied for the team-lead in goals (6). A strong start is key for the Johnnies if they are to pull off the upset. Saint John’s, 2-1

Wisconsin-River Falls (6-4-2, 2-3-1) at Northland (3-8, 1-5)

The Falcons need to come up big this weekend to stay in the hunt for a conference championship, The Lumberjacks have struggled early in their first season in the WIAC but can gain a lot of momentum from a big weekend against UW-River Falls.

Northland has to be able to get its offense going, managing just 26 goals in its first 11 games. That won’t be easy against the Falcons, who have Zach Quinn in goal. He has a 1.97 goals against average and 164 saves on the season. UW-River Falls, 4-2

Friday and Saturday

Lake Forest (9-2-1, 6-1) at Trine (6-5, 4-2)

A huge South Division showdown is ahead for these two teams. Lake Forest has won its last four games and Trine is trying to get back on track after dropping its last two games.

The Foresters have scored 45 goals and 74 assists, with Mark DerManulian coming through with two goals and 10 assists. Trine is led by Garrett Hallford, who has tallied five goals and three assists. Both games in this series should be tight. Lake Forest, 4-3 and 5-4

Lawrence (3-8-1, 2-5-1) at St. Scholastica (5-6-1, 3-4-1)

Lawrence is in the mix for a playoff berth but needs to step up this weekend to keep hope alive. The Vikings have dropped their last three games. The Saints are looking to build momentum in the second half as they are just one point out of first place.

Jake Drinkard has been a bright spot for the Vikings, scoring six goals and dishing out two assists.Saints goalie  Zane Steeves is among the leaders in saves, tallying 329. St. Scholastica, 4-2 and 3-2

St. Norbert (5-7, 3-5) vs. MSOE (6-2-2, 1-2-2)

The Green Knights are looking for a successful second half to the season. They are in a position to have it. Peter Bates is tied for second in points and is one of the top playmakers with 12 assists. (17) and Kurt Black is tied for the league-lead in goals (8).

MSOE can really solidify its status as a contender with a big weekend in this series. The Raiders will need a great effort out of Logan Halladay, who has a 1,87 goals against average and owns a 92.6 save percentage on the year. MSOE, 3-1; St. Norbert, 4-3

Finlandia (3-7-2, 1-5-2)  vs, Concordia (6-4-1, 2-3-1)

Finlandia has struggled this season but has a chance to open 2020 on a high note. The Lions, though,are unbeaten in their last four games. The Falcons have had an up-and-down year but are hoping to get things rolling in the right direction as they begin the new year. Concordia’s Bryadon Barker leads the NCHA in points with 18, scoring six goals and dishing out 12 assists. Finlandia, 4-2; Concordia, 5-2