Game Picks: D-III West

Lake Forest skates into a huge showdown this weekend with Adrian. (Photo courtesy of Yanna Glaspy, Lake Forest Athletics)

One final month of college hockey remains in the regular season and the games start to matter just a little more now as teams battle for conference crowns and spots in conference tournaments.

Bethel puts its unbeaten streak on the line against Concordia and Augsburg plays a pivotal series against Saint Mary’s as it tries to strengthen its hold on the top spot in the MIAC. In the NCHA, Lake Forest and Adrian collide in a huge NCHA battle featuring two nationally ranked teams.

Bethel (5-11-3, 4-3-3) at Concordia (7-8-2, 4-3-1)

No one expected the Royals to be one of the better teams in the league. They’ve gone out and proven a lot of people wrong and are unbeaten in their last three games.

The Cobbers are clinging to a playoff spot at the moment and know a strong showing against the Royals can change their fate in a big way. Bethel, 4-3; Concordia, 3-2

Augsburg (12-5-1, 7-2-1) vs. Saint Mary’s (7-9-1, 4-4)

The Auggies begin this series against the Cardinals on the road.

For Saint Mary’s, this series is a must-win. The Cardinals can’t afford to fall any further behind the pack. They’ve proven they can win big games and this is their chance to do it. The Auggies have one of the top netminders in the game in Daniil Gerasimov, who sports a 1.24 GAA. Augsburg, 5-4 and 4-1

Gustavus (8-6-3, 4-2-2) vs. Hamline (3-12-4, 1-6-3)

The Gusties are in great position in the conference standings, sitting in a tie for second. They begin this home and home series looking to stay there.

The Pipers are looking to play spoiler and are certainly capable of it with someone like Jackson Bond in their lineup. Bond leads the MIAC in goals (11) and points (21). Gustavus has a scoring threat of its own in Caleb Anderson, who has scored nine goals and dished out 11 assists. Gustavus, 5-3 and 4-2

Lake Forest (16-2-1, 13-1) at Adrian (11-5-3, 9-3-2)

Two nationally ranked South Division teams collide on the ice in pivotal series for both teams that has both conference and NCAA tournament implications riding on it. The No. 6 Foresters are as hot as anyone, winning its last 11, while the No. 13 Bulldogs have rattled off three consecutive wins. This is a series that could feature a lot of offense as both teams are lighting it up. Adrian has punched in 89 goals, the most in the NCHA, while Lake Forest has tallied 81 goals. Lake Forest, 5-4; Adrian 6-5

St. Norbert (10-8-2, 8-6-2) at St. Scholastica (5-14-1, 3-12-1)

The Green Knights are looking good, winning two in a row, while the Saints are just looking for any sliver of late-season momentum they can latch onto. St. Scholastica has lost its last eight games. St. Norbert is just too good of a team on both ends of the ice for the Saints to contend with. St. Norbert, 5-2 and 4-2

Wisconsin-Stout (6-12-1, 5-4) at Wisconsin-Eau Claire (14-3-2, 6-2-1)

The Blugolds can move one step closer to a conference crown in the regular season with a pair of wins. The No. 2 team in the country has avoided a loss in its last three games and has scored 67 goals while allowing only 31. The Blue Devils are unbeaten in their last two games and need to be at their best on defense if they want to stay in the title hunt. UW-Eau Claire, 5-2 and 4-3


Wisconsin-Superior at Wisconsin-Stevens Point

The Pointers won the first game of this series 6-5 on Thursday and another tightly contested matchup is likely tonight. The reigning national champs are playing their best hockey right now and are unbeaten in their last eight. These two teams are the highest-scoring in the conference, with the Yellow Jackets tallying 77 goals and the Pointers coming through with 74. UW-Stevens Point, 5-4