Five Big Ten teams are in action this week. First, let’s see how Drew Claussen and I did picking last weekend.
Drew: 3-4-1 (.437)
Paula: 2-5-1 (.313)
Drew: 4-4-1 (.500)
Paula: 3-5-1 (.368)
So there’s that. At least I called the split in Columbus … with the Buckeyes winning in nights opposite of my picks.
There are old rivalries, visits with old friends and action in the Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge. Everyone but Minnesota plays.
Massachusetts at Michigan State
Drew: Michigan State struggled last year, but didn’t UMass struggle last year. The Minutemen only managed four conference victories and were only able to tack on four more nonconference wins en route to an 8-22-4 overall record. I still predict that the Spartans are going to be the fifth-place team in the Big Ten this year, but starting the season off with a sweep would be a good start in their quest to prove me wrong.
Paula: The Minutemen dropped their opening game of the season Oct. 10 to Boston University, 8-1. UMass swept Michigan State last season (Oct. 18-19, 2013) in Amherst, 3-1 and 5-2. Both games in this weekend’s series begin at 7:00 p.m. in Munn Arena. These are not televised.
Drew’s picks: Michigan State wins 4-2 and ties 3-3.
Paula’s picks: Michigan State 3-2, 3-2.
Miami vs. Ohio State
Drew: I loved Ohio State’s play last weekend. It was similar to last season where the Buckeyes played good teams closely with the exception this time being that they found a way to put one a win column. Miami dominated the games these two played last year, so Steve Rohlik won’t have to dig too deep for bulletin board material. Miami split a pair of 3-2 games against Bowling Green last weekend and I could see the same thing happening this weekend, but I’m getting bold with this pick.
Paula: This is one of the best little-known rivalries in college hockey. These two teams — 120 miles apart — have a healthy dislike for each other. Miami leads this series 71-62-13 and the RedHawks have taken the last three games between the clubs. It’s not unusual for these teams to split these home-and-home series by winning in each other’s barns. Friday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m. at the Schott in Columbus, Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. in Steve Cady Arena in Oxford. Neither is televised.
Drew’s picks: Ohio State sweeps 3-2, 4-1.
Paula’s picks: Ohio State 3-2, Miami 3-2.
New Hampshire at Michigan
Drew: Two long-term bench bosses go at it in this weekend series at Yost. Michigan’s Red Berenson has been with the Wolverines since 1984-85, and New Hampshire’s Dick Umile has been the head man for the Wildcats since 1990-91. These two teams played to the tune of a 1-1 draw and a 3-2 Michigan victory last year, and I think it’d be fair to expect two close games again. With their last game taking place while the rest of the teams were playing exhibition games, it’s easy to forget that the Wolverines are 0-1. Michigan will obviously be looking for a better start than the one it had against Ferris State and I think playing in front of the hometown faithful will help the cause.
Paula: New Hampshire also enters the weekend 0-1, having lost to Union 3-1 Oct. 11. Michigan is 6-2-3 against the Wildcats and 2-0-3 in the last five games against UNH. Both games begin at 7:30 p.m. in Yost Ice Arena. Friday’s game is being carried by Comcast.
Drew’s picks: Michigan sweep 3-2, 3-2.
Paula’s picks: Michigan 4-2, UNH 3-2.
Penn State vs. Alaska-Anchorage and at Alaska
Drew: After last weekend, the Nanooks and Seawolves have to be licking their chops when they think about this weekend’s games against Penn State. The Nittany Lions were able to light the lamp repeatedly last weekend, but I’m not ready to put any stock into a blowout win and tie against Connecticut. If Penn State puts up another strong performance this weekend, we’ll talk about my stock options.
Paula: This is the seventh annual Brice Alaska Goal Rush, which features Air Force in addition to PSU, Alaska, and Alaska-Anchorage. All games are played at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. The Nittany Lions face a pair of undefeated opponents in this event. Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska each beat Maine and Wisconsin last weekend in the Kendall Hockey Classic, with the Nanooks prevailing as the tournament champions because of a tiebreaker (which I originally thought to be goal differential, but I admit confusion about the outcome because of the final scores). This is also a homecoming of sorts for PSU coach Guy Gadowsky. Gadowsky, the former Nanooks head coach, was in Fairbanks for a day in September to be inducted into the Alaska Nanooks’ Hall of Fame, but Gadowsky told me this week he’s looking forward to spending a little more time in Fairbanks this trip to reconnect with old friends. This is the first time the Nittany Lions will face the Seawolves and Nanooks. Friday’s game begins at 5:00 p.m. locally with Saturday’s contest starting at 7:00 p.m. These games are not televised.
Drew’s picks: Anchorage 4-2, Fairbanks 3-1.
Paula’s picks: I’m not picking against the Nittany Lions until they lose. PSU 2-1, 3-2.
Wisconsin vs. Northern Michigan
Drew: The two factors I’m most intrigued about in this series have little to do with the teams on the ice and more to do with the fans supporting them. It’ll be interesting to see (1) how many fans attend these games in The City That Mustn’t Be Named (Boo, Packers!), and (2) which team gets the bigger cheers. According to Google Maps, it’s a two-hour, 21-minute drive (140 miles) from the Kohl Center to the Resch Center. The trek from the Berry Events Center to the Resch is three hours and 18 minutes (179 miles). I suppose I should say a thing or two about the actual game before I wrap things up, so … Wisconsin needs a sweep after last weekend and Northern Michigan hasn’t played a game yet, but was a disappointing 15-21-2 last year.
Note: I know the Vikings are terrible and have been for many years with the exception of the one season they started a former Packer at QB, so there’s no need to respond to the Packers jab. All in good fun. Paula’s team should have a field day against Minnesota on Sunday.
Paula: The Badgers opened last season with a home sweep of the Wildcats, 5-2 and 2-1 (Oct. 11-12, 2013), and it’s the fourth consecutive year that Northern Michigan has opened its season against Wisconsin. The teams are an even 3-3-0 for those series. The Badgers are 3-2-1 at the Resch Center, with a 1-2-1 record at the Resch Center against the Wildcats. UW leads this all-time series 46-27-6. These games are not televised.
Drew’s picks: Wisconsin gets back on track with a hard-fought 3-2, 3-1 sweep.
Paula’s picks: Good people of Wisconsin, you should know that I harbor no hatred of the Green Bay Packers. Good people of Minnesota, I likewise wish you no ill will, but I am hoping that I am happier than you are, collectively, after the Vikings spend Sunday afternoon in Orchard Park, N.Y. As for this series, neither the Badgers nor the Wildcats plays well on the road, but I’m thinking Wisconsin prevails as well. Badgers 4-2, 3-2.