The first full week of games is finally here! And seeing as how this is my first official blog post on USCHO I’m a bit nervous that Shane is going to humiliate me in this year’s pick ’em standings.
I’m bad at predicting things, which is why I don’t gamble. Luckily for me, we’re not betting money in these pick ’ems, just pride.
Seven of the 10 WCHA teams are in action this weekend, and many of them feature teams facing off against their former WCHA or CCHA foes.
Anyway, enough chit-chat. Here are our picks.
Kendall Hockey Classic at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage
No. 10 Wisconsin (0-0-0) vs. Alaska (0-0-0)
Jack: The Badgers are a Big Ten contender this year, while the Nanooks are hoping to build on a promising 2013-14. They have some scorers back, but the Badgers counter with Hobey Baker finalist Joel Rumpel. I’ll take Wisconsin in a close one. Wisconsin 4-3
Shane: Alaska is an interesting team to me. The Nanooks graduated a lot of talent but have a pretty solid roster remaining. This is a tough trip for anyone to start the season, even for what appears to be a good Wisconsin team. I think the extra practice time will favor Alaska, 3-2.
Maine (0-0-0) vs. Alaska-Anchorage (0-0-0)
Jack: The Seawolves are undefeated in their past 13 home openers. That’s hardly a surprise: The Seawolves almost always open at home for the Kendall Classic and it makes sense that their opponents are rusty and playing on travel legs for their season openers. I’ll go with the Seawolves here to keep their streak alive despite Maine’s possible rebound season this year. Alaska-Anchorage 3-1
Shane: A big key to the Seawolves’ turnaround last season was their play at home, and it all started right away with the Kendall. As the home team, they’ll be more comfortable to start off the season, especially against a team flying in from all the way across the continent. Anchorage 4-3
Maine vs. Alaska
Jack: This one seems like a wash, but I’ll take the Nanooks in their home state. Alaska 4-2
Shane: I’m with you on this one Jack. Nanooks win 3-2
No. 10 Wisconsin vs. Alaska-Anchorage
Jack: The former WCHA foes meet again in the final game of the Kendall Classic this weekend. The Seawolves actually stole two points from the Badgers in Madison in January, so they can skate with them. These openers are so unpredictable, but I’ll go with the Badgers this time around. Wisconsin 3-1
Shane: Wisconsin will bounce back from the Alaska loss and win a good game against the Seawolves, who do have things to figure out in goal to start the season. Badgers 5-4.
Bemidji State (0-0-0) vs.No. 2 North Dakota (0-0-0)
Jack: The Beavers travel just down the road to UND Friday to open up Ralph Engelstad before returning to Bemidji to host BSU’s home opener in the Sanford Center. The Beavers don’t historically have much success against UND no matter the venue (UND is 18-1-2 all time in Grand Forks and 8-1-1 all time in Bemidji). However, I think BSU can steal a low-scoring win Saturday night, given it will be their home opener. UND 4-1 Friday, BSU 2-1 Saturday
Shane: I’ll say this about Tom Serratore: He’s not afraid of the tough schedule. North Dakota, Minnesota, then Alaska and Minnesota State to kick off the conference schedule. I appreciate that these teams continue to play each other, but this is a tough task for the Beavers right out of the gate, even if one game is at home. North Dakota sweeps, 4-1, 3-2
Bowling Green (0-0-0) vs. No. 11 Miami (0-0-0)
Jack: Another home and home, this time between two former instate CCHA rivals. People are very high on Miami right now despite the fact that they weren’t able to live up to their lofty expectations a year ago. The Falcons, meanwhile, are something of a sleeper pick in the WCHA. I think BGSU can earn one at home in Bowling Green. It remains to be seen if they can do it in Oxford. I’ll go with the split. BGSU 4-2 Friday, Miami 3-2 Saturday
Shane: I’m with you on this one, Jack. Miami might have a “fool me once …” vibe this season, and I agree on Bowling Green. Not sure if there’s high-end talent there, but the Falcons have depth and experience. I think each team wins at home, too. BGSU 3-1, Miami 4-3
Alabama-Huntsville (0-0-0) at Colorado College (0-0-0)
Jack: Year two of Huntsville’s rebuilding project begins today in Colorado Springs. I don’t think the Chargers will struggle nearly as much as they did last season, but I’m not sure they will be able to beat the Tigers on the road in the season opener. The games won’t be as out of hand for UAH as they were last year but I still see a CC sweep. Tigers 3-1, 2-1
Shane: If the Chargers were at home this weekend, I might be courageous enough to pick a win, but they’re on the road. Coloado College is also in rebuilding mode, hiring a new coach in the offseason, but the cupboard isn’t and shouldn’t be bare in the Springs. It will be close, CC sweeps 3-2, 3-2
Lake Superior State (0-2-0) at Robert Morris (0-0-0)
Jack: The Lakers were swept at home against Upper Peninsula rivals Michigan Tech. It’s unclear if Damon Whitten has decided on a true No. 1 goaltender, but Gordon Defiel started both games for LSSU last weekend and gave up eight goals. I’ll pick the Colonials for the sweep simply due to the unknowns for the Lakers that remain. RMU 5-2, 3-1
Shane: Have you looked at the Lakers’ schedule to start the season? Yikes! Hardly seems fair for a new coach. After this, Whitten’s team goes to Notre Dame, host Northern Michigan, then travels to Anchorage and Huntsville. This might be as good a weekend as any to get an early season win. RMU 4-1, LSSU 4-3
No. 13 Minnesota State (0-0-0) at Omaha (0-0-0)
Jack: Normally I don’t put too much stock into exhibition games, but Omaha lost theirs this weekend against Alberta Institute of Technology and Dean Blais was mad. You can’t take too much from the loss but if the red Mavericks are not 100% against the purple Mavericks, it could get ugly. I’ll pick the purple sweep. MSU 4-1, 2-1
Shane: I agree, Jack, you can’t tell much from those exhibition games, whether a team loses 4-0 or wins 12-1 as Minnesota State did against Trinity Western. Minnesota State is bound and determined not to get off to a poor start as they did last year. After what happened opening weekend in Providence last year, a road split wouldn’t be bad for the purple Mavs. I think that’s what will happen. MSU 4-2, UNO 3-2
Last week: Shane 2-1-0, Jack 1-2-0. Overall: Shane 2-1-0, Jack 1-2-0