NCHC picks: Dec. 4-10

Going forward, Matthew and I will be publishing picks a week in advance. We’ve already seen some interesting results in the NCHC, so let’s look at this weekend’s games.

Friday, Dec. 4
No. 1 North Dakota versus No. 4 Denver
Candace: Denver wasn’t able to hold on against Minnesota Duluth the other night, and last season the Pioneers were a solid third team, unable to beat North Dakota or UMD. I think the Fighting Hawks win this one. North Dakota 3-2
Matthew: Two days after starting with a top-five matchup against Minnesota Duluth, Denver gets another big game against UND in a series that’s always fun to watch. No reason to think that that won’t translate to a bubble environment. Basically, I’m waffling because I know I have to pick a winner here, and in related news, my head hurts. North Dakota 3-2

Saturday, Dec. 5
No. 4 Denver versus St. Cloud State
Candace: I think Denver will get its first win of the season in this game, but it will again be tight. Denver 3-2
Matthew: This isn’t exactly a breather for Denver after playing Duluth and UMD, but that’s life in the NCHC for you. Give me the Pios in another tight game. Denver 2-1

Miami versus Omaha
Candace: Omaha looked really good against Western Michigan. Granted, the Broncos were without their starting goalie, but I think home ice helps. Omaha 4-2
Matthew: I was really impressed with Miami goalie Ben Kraws on Wednesday against North Dakota, and you definitely get the impression that he can steal some wins for you. Isaiah Saville does the same for Omaha, and if they both play Saturday, it’s hard to see this as a high-scoring game. Omaha 2-1

Sunday, Dec. 6:
No. 1 North Dakota versus Western Michigan
Candace: With Brandon Bussi hurt and an apparently pourous defense, I don’t think North Dakota will have too much trouble. North Dakota 5-2
Matthew: Again, if Bussi plays, that helps the Broncos. Regardless, though, I have a tough time not seeing UND winning this game. North Dakota 4-2

No. 3 Minnesota Duluth versus Miami
Candace: So far, Minnesota Duluth has picked up with where they ended last season. I like the streak to continue. Minnesota Duluth 3-2
Matthew: UMD gets a well-deserved breather after turning two games around in the third period against Omaha and Denver. I like the Bulldogs to keep their unbeaten start going. Minnesota Duluth 4-2

Omaha versus St. Cloud State
Candace: I’m going against my partner in crime in this one. Omaha can’t keep winning, can they? St. Cloud State 3-2
Matthew: This looks like it’ll be a couple of teams vying for home ice at the start of the NCHC playoffs, provided we get there. Tough one to call. Omaha 3-2

Tuesday, Dec. 8

Western Michigan versus Colorado College
This is CC’s first game, and the Tigers are coming off a pause in all hockey activities. That might be just enough for Western Michigan, which is struggling with goalie Brandon Bussi out. Western Michigan 4-3
Western isn’t in a great way right now with Brandon Bussi out, but they’re playing against a CC team that is starting late and hasn’t been dealing with huge outside expectations for this season. I could easily be wrong here, but I’ll take the Broncos in a close one. Western Michigan 4, Colorado College 3

Denver versus North Dakota
In its first two games against the top teams in the NCHC, Denver carried leads late in the third period before falling. Denver will be hungry, but I think North Dakota eeks this out. North Dakota 3-2
Denver’s 0-3, sure, but is there a better 0-3 team out there? I’d say no, and this game will be as close as their first meeting was. Denver 4, North Dakota 3

Miami versus Minnesota Duluth
I don’t know why I’m surprised anymore by coach Scott Sandelin’s ability to plug new players into seemingly gaping holes in Duluth’s roster and just keep on trucking. Minnesota Duluth 3-1
I’m feeling better about Miami than I might’ve been before the pod got underway, but it’s hard to see UMD stopping its torrent run here. Minnesota Duluth 4-1

Wednesday, Dec. 9

Western Michigan versus St. Cloud State
St. Cloud has looked like the second–half team from last year so far, and I think the Huskies keep it going. St. Cloud State 3-1
Same thing as with Duluth; not easy to see St. Cloud slowing down here after what has been a really good start. St. Cloud State 4-1

Omaha versus Colorado College
Omaha is at home and has looked very strong so far. They keep the strong start going. Omaha 4-2
The Tigers will have hopefully found their bearings by the time this game starts, but I like a lot about what UNO has done so far. Omaha 4-2

Thursday, Dec. 10

Denver versus Miami
I think the Pios get into the win column here. Denver 3-1
Miami is going to pick up some better results in the pod, but probably not here. Denver 4-1

North Dakota versus Minnesota Duluth
This game on a Thursday is the best in the country so far. Minnesota Duluth 3-2
For me, this is the biggest game yet in the pod. In terms of picks, total toss-up. North Dakota 3-2