After taking a break from conference play last week, teams in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association return to battle each other this week.
Last week, I did well, picking Wisconsin-Eau Claire to sweep Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The Blugolds, ranked third nationally, are 10-1-1, and appear to be the hottest team in Division III.
I also picked Wisconsin-Superior to drop one game in its series with Wisconsin-River Falls. The Yellowjackets won Saturday’s game, but had to settle for a tie in Friday’s opener.
Here’s what should occur this weekend in the NCHA.
Friday-Saturday, Dec. 7-8
Wis.-Eau Claire at Wis.-River Falls
The Falcons picked the wrong time to run into the red-hot Blugolds. With a 0-4-2 record in the NCHA, Wis.-River Falls is desperate for its first conference win. They’ll be playing on home ice, which always helps, but I can’t see the Blugolds having a letdown at River Falls. In the NCHA, the Blugolds have three of the top five leaders in points and two of the top five goal-scorers. It’s almost impossible to shut down one player and hope to knock off Wis.-Eau Claire. The Blugolds have too many weapons, and should keep their winning streak intact. Wis.-Eau Claire 5-3, 6-2
Wis.-Stout at Wis.-Stevens Point
This will be a clash between the fourth (Wis.-Stout) and fifth (Wis.-Stevens Point) place teams in the NCHA. After struggling last season, the Blue Devils have bounced back, posting a 6-3-2 record. The Blue Devils are paced by senior goaltender Nick Hopper, who carries a 1.80 goals-against average, second only to St. Norbert standout David Jacobson. However, the Pointers have Nick Graves, who’s also solid in goal (2.42 GAA). The easy choice would be to pick a split, but I think Wis.-Stout comes away with a sweep in two tight contests. Wis.-Stout 3-2 (OT), 4-3
Saturday, Dec. 8
Wisconsin-Superior at Gustavus Adolphus
The Yellowjackets, ranked 10, are riding high, but I see Gustavus Adolphus rallying for a much-needed home victory.
Gustavus Adolphus 4-3