Hockey Game Picks: D-III West

Freshmen Auggie Moore (23) and Dan Wieber celebrate following one of Wieber’s two goals Jan. 30 (Photo Courtesy of Capri Potter).

There is no shortage of entertainment on the ice this weekend.

St. Thomas and Saint John’s duke it out in a rivalry series and Marian and Lawrence will do the same. Augsburg faces a key late-season test against St. Norbert while Finlandia, despite dropping its last three games, has a shot to wrap up a playoff berth with a series sweep of the Saints.

Check out my predictions here.

St. Thomas (8-7-3, 5-4-1) vs. Saint John’s (7-7-5, 4-2-4)

It’s one of the best rivalries in hockey and both teams have a lot riding on this series.

The Tommies are led by John Peterson, who has come through with seven goals and eight assists. Johnny Panvica has tallied five goals and five assists. Kyle Wagner is having a big year for the Johnnies, ranking third in assists with 14. The Johnnies are 5-3-4 against the Tommies in their last 12 meetings.  Saint John’s, 5-4; St. Thomas, 3-2

Saint Mary’s (8-10-1, 5-5) vs. Hamline (4-13-4, 2-7-3)

The Cardinals need a couple of wins here to keep hope alive in the tightly contested MIAC. Hamline is looking to spoil those playoff hopes. Cardinals standout Jack Stang won’t be easy to slow down. Neither will Jackson Bond, who is having a big year for the Pipers. He and Stang are tied in points (22). Saint Mary’s, 5-3; 4-3

Concordia (9-8-2, 6-3-1) vs. Gustavus (9-7-3, 5-3-2)

Concordia has control of its own fate in terms of hanging on to second place and still has an outside shot of taking the conference title. Gustavus is in great shape, too, and looking to replace the Cobbers in the second spot in the standings.

Aaron Herdt has been a force for the Cobbers, scoring 10 goals. Few have been better than the Gusties’ Caleb Anderson, however. He leads the MIAC in points (25) and goals (13). Concordia, 3-2; Gustavus, 4-3

Augsburg (13-6-1) at St. Norbert (12-8-2)

The Auggies step out of conference one final time looking to make a statement. Their defense could be a difference maker. Daniil Gerasimov sports a GAA of 1.68. The Green Knights have won their last four games and can make a statement against the nationally ranked Auggies. Colby Entz has a 2.17 GAA. Augsburg, 4-3

UW-Stevens Point (12-6-3, 6-2-3) at UW-Stout (6-14-1, 5-6)

The Pointers are looking to continue their late-season surge, having won their last three games. The Blue Devils are hoping to end a two-game slide. Offensively, UW-Stevens Point might be tough for UW-Stout to slow down. The Pointers have scored 77 goals. The Blue Devils rank fifth in the league in goals allowed with 76. UW-Stevens Point, 5-2 and 4-1

UW-Superior (13-6-3, 6-6) at UW-River Falls (13-6-3, 5-5-2)

The Yellow Jackets already took one game from the Falcons, winning 3-2 Thursday. Expect another close battle tonight as both teams are jockeying for position in the conference tourney. The Yellow Jackets lead the league in goals scored with 82 while the Falcons have been tough defensively, giving up just 46. Ryan Cusin and Christian Hausinger have combined for 22 goals for the Falcons. Dylan Johnson has scored 11 for the Yellow Jackets. UW-River Falls, 4-3

St. Scholastica (6-16-1, 4-14-1) at Finlandia (4-16-2, 2-13-2)

No one probably expected this matchup to mean so much late in the year, but it does. The Saints and Lions are both in position to get the four seed in the North Division. If either team gets a sweep, a playoff spot is a done deal. Neither team can afford two losses or a loss and a tie. Look for this one to end in a split. Finlandia, 3-2; St. Scholastica, 3-1

Lawrence (5-14-2, 4-10-2) vs. Marian (14-6-1, 10-6)

The latest chapter of the Battle of Highway 41 takes place this weekend and both teams are playing for much more than pride. Both teams already have playoff spots nailed down but Marian can still win the division. The Vikings are in a spot where they could be the three or the four seed. Forget records and everything else, though, when two rivals hook up. Marian, 5-4; Lawrence, 4-3