No preamble, just picks. I will say this, though: I can’t believe it’s November already.
Last week’s picks: 7-1-4
Straight wins, that’s .583. Factoring in ties (and I’d love to), it’s .750. Any way I look at it, I see a better start to the season than I’ve had in years — and, no, I’m not going back to do the math.
I do believe, however, that this is the week in which I’ll lose significant ground.
Everyone plays again this week, and as the league now has an odd number of teams, we should all thank Alabama-Huntsville for its second consecutive week of service to the CCHA. Ohio State’s series with Huntsville is the only nonconference set of the weekend; the rest is a full slate of CCHA action, all Friday-Saturday.
Miami at FSU. The RedHawks bring their incredible show on the road this weekend to face a very tenacious squad of Bulldogs. The RedHawks have the best line of the country in Camper, Miele and Smith, and they’re deep with talent in every position. The Bulldogs, however, are an excellent defensive team; in fact, both teams give up 2.25 goals per game on average. Each team gets solid goaltending. These teams last met in the CCHA’s third-place game last year, which Miami won. Should be excellent hockey. I’m not calling against Miami until they lose. Miami 4-3, 4-3.
MSU at WMU. The Broncos are looking at their first win over the Spartans since Feb. 2007. Last weekend, each team played to a win and a draw, with Western losing the shootout to Notre Dame and returning to Kalamazoo with one point to show for two excellent games. For the Spartans, thankfully, there was no shootout, since they played UAH. MSU is undefeated (3-0-3) and these are the Spartans’ first road games this season. WMU 4-3, MSU 3-1.
ND at BGSU. Congratulations to Jeff Jackson! The ND coach earned his 200th career win Friday when the Irish beat the Broncos, 3-2, but I can tell you that the milestone matters little to Jackson, whose Irish are back in the CCHA hunt again this season. Last weekend, BGSU dropped two to Alaska and the Falcons are still looking for their first league win of 2010-11. ND and BGSU met four times last season and went 1-1-2, with the Falcons taking the extra point in each shooutout. I love that BG has an official name for the program’s comeback: “Bring Back the Glory.” ND 3-2, 4-2.
NMU at LSSU. I did not expect the Wildcats to be among the CCHA have-nots this season, so their sweep of Ohio State last weekend was reassuring as the wins were the first of the season for NMU. (Sorry, Buckeye fans.) The Lakers have one little point in CCHA play, courtesy of their tie against Miami last week. NMU is looking for its first win in Sault Ste. Marie since Nov. 2007, having gone 0-3-2 in the past five contests there. The teams exchanged a pair of sweeps on home ice last season, with the Lakers outscoring the Wildcats 11-4 in Abel Arena. Bring on the Cappo Cup play! NMU 3-1, LSSU 3-1.
UM at UAF. The Nanooks kicked off their season last year with a 2-0 win over the Wolverines in the Kendell Hockey Classic, and the teams went 1-1-1 in three games in 2009-10, with UAF taking the extra shootout point. The Wolverines are 5-2-1 in their last eight games against the Nanooks, though, and Michigan has always had a good deal of success against this program. Last weekend, UAF swept at home while the Wolverines settled for four points in a home-and-home series against FSU. UAF 3-2, UM 4-2.
UAH at OSU. The Chargers are 2-0-1 against the Buckeyes all-time, but the teams haven’t met since 2005. Who knows what this weekend will bring? UAH was very impressive in the four minutes of comeback the Chargers mounted against the Spartans last weekend — but thoroughly unimpressive the rest of the time. When they’re playing well, they’re tenacious and careful. I thought C.J. Groh was good in net. The Buckeyes … well, the Buckeyes are rebuilding. A long trip to Northern Michigan yielded no points, with OSU losing a lead in the second loss. I don’t know. UAH 4-3, OSU 4-3.