NCHC picks: Jan. 31-Feb. 1

Emilio Pettersen of Denver, Colorado College at Denver at Magness Arena, Jan. 19, 2019 (Candace Horgan)
Emilio Pettersen and Denver host Minnesota Duluth this weekend. (Candace Horgan)

St. Cloud giveth, and St. Cloud taketh away. Two weeks ago, Matthew got a game back in our picks race by picking St. Cloud to split with Minnesota Duluth, but I got that game back last weekend by picking Western Michigan to sweep the Huskies. Last weekend, I went 7-1 (.875), while Matthew was 6-2 (.750). On the year, I am 66-46-19 (.576), while Matthew is 62-50-19 (.545).

Friday-Saturday, Jan. 31-Feb. 1

No. 10 Minnesota Duluth at No. 4 Denver
Candace: Minnesota Duluth has flipped the script in this rivalry of late. When these two played in November, Denver blew a two-goal third-period lead and settled for a tie/shootout win. That result started Denver’s skid that lasted until mid-December, when the Pioneers swept Colorado College and righted the ship. Denver hasn’t lost since the first weekend of December, but I have a hard time seeing that streak continue through this weekend. I’ll pick a split. Denver 3-2, Minnesota Duluth 4-2
Matthew: Denver doesn’t seem to lose anymore, but UMD will provide a tougher test than most of what the Pioneers have seen in the last month or so. I’ll take a split here, and I don’t imagine the teams would be crushed to, either. Denver 3-2, Minnesota Duluth 3-2

Miami at St. Cloud State
Candace: As previously mentioned, St. Cloud has been a wildcard in recent weekends. Miami played Denver tough for a time, but couldn’t hang through three periods. St. Cloud swept the RedHawks in Oxford back in early December, and I think they will again. St. Cloud 4-2, 3-2
Matthew: NCHC overtime rules being what they are, not much really has to give here, but I’m going to go out on a short limb and say SCSU sweeps this series between strugglers. St. Cloud State 3-2, 3-2

Colorado College at No. 2 North Dakota
Candace: It’s hard to remember, but prior to getting swept by Denver in December CC had a winning record and seemed to be positioning themselves for a second-half push. North Dakota has been miserably inconsistent on defense over the last four weeks, but I think they get it done. North Dakota 3-2, 5-2
Matthew: UND came from behind to win one game last weekend at UMD, and the Hawks just didn’t help themselves in the other one. I’m not envisioning many such problems here. Sorry, Tigers. North Dakota 4-2, 4-1

Western Michigan at Omaha
Candace: Western is riding a four-game win streak, but these two split back in November in Kalamazoo, and I think they will again. Omaha 3-2, Western Michigan 4-2
Matthew: Both teams are coming off of impressive sweeps, but how much will Western miss the suspended Paul Washe in this series? I think Omaha will keep its better recent form going at first, but I’m feeling a split. Omaha 4-2, Western Michigan 4-2