We’re into week four of the college hockey season and this is the first weekend that everybody in the WCHA is playing. No byes. Which means that although Shane and I currently have identical 19-11-1 overall records picking games, these ones will decide a lot.
Also, we have three conference series: All four Michigan schools are in action, against one another, as well as Alabama-Huntsville making the trip to Mankato.
The four other schools get tough nonconference tests against teams from four different conferences (Big Ten, Hockey East, ECAC and NCHC).
So it should be an action-packed weekend.
Now, onto the picks!
Alabama Huntsville ( 0-4-0) at No. 13 Minnesota State (2-2-0)
Jack: UAH has looked much better this season — we haven’t seen any double-digit losses this so far — but they’re still struggling. I’m not sure they have enough to beat the Mavericks in Mankato just yet. Mavericks, 5-2, 3-1.
Shane: I, too, believe Huntsville will be better this year, but this is a tough time for the Chargers to go to Mankato. Minnesota State wasn’t too happy with its home-opening performance against Minnesota Duluth last weekend and will look to get its WCHA season started on the right note. Mavericks 5-1, 4-0
Michigan Tech (2-0-0) at No. 8 Ferris State (2-1-0)
Jack: This should be a fun series. Tech has had two weeks off since beating Lake Superior State, and on paper the Huskies look like they’re going to score in bunches this season. Will they be able to find enough to beat CJ Motte and the Bulldogs? I’ll pick a split with Tech getting a Saturday upset. Bulldogs 4-1, Huskies 3-2.
Shane: I’d love to be at this series, easily one of the best early season matchups for the league. A split would be great for Tech (and for the league’s other contenders), but the Bulldogs just don’t seem to lose at home.Bulldogs 3-2, 4-2
Northern Michigan (2-0-0) at Lake Superior State (0-6-0)
Jack: NMU is another team with some optimism. The Wildcats were supposed to be strong defensively but they proved last weekend they could score, too, with six goals in a weekend sweep of Wisconsin. I think NMU will be too much for the Lakers, who have a very real chance of starting 0-8-0 on the season. Wildcats 4-1, 3-2.
Shane: Very impressed with what the Wildcats did last weekend against the Badgers, and like you said, defensively and offensively. What the Lakers and their new coach need right now is a bye week to settle down and see where they’re at. Wildcats 3-0, 5-2
No. 20 Alaska Anchorage (3-0-1) at Maine ( 0-4-0)
Jack: This will be a good litmus test for the Seawolves. On the one hand, they’ve already beaten Maine once, in the Kendall Hockey Classic. On the other hand, they’re facing the same kind of travel issues that Maine did going to Anchorage (Anchorage to Orono has gotta be the second-most-grueling trip in college hockey, second only to Fairbanks to Orono). I think it may be a struggle for UAA Friday night but they rally Saturday. Black Bears 4-1, Seawolves 4-2.
Shane: I like the fact that Anchorage is almost immediately doing Maine a favor by going to Orono shortly after Maine went to Anchorage. Word is the Seawolves left early, so they shouldn’t be jet lagged for this series. Matt Thomas really wants to be better on the road this season. Seawolves 3-2, Black Bears 2-1
No. 16 Alaska (4-0-0) at Western Michigan ( 1-3-0)
Jack: Another challenge for an Alaska team that’s undefeated in its home state. I think the Nanooks are going to Western Michigan then spend the rest of the week in the lower 48 before heading to Bemidji next week. I’m a little higher on the Nanooks than I am on the Seawolves so I’m going to call a sweep despite the travel. Nanooks 4-2, 5-3.
Shane: Another Alaska team going on the road after a good start. The time zone’s the same as the one Anchorage is going to, but not quite as far away. I think the Nanooks are pretty good, but I think they’ll split. Broncos 4-3, Nanooks 3-1
Bemidji State (1-1-0) at No. 1 Minnesota (2-0-0)
Jack: Call me a homer, but I think the Beavers steal one of these. I don’t think they just got lucky against North Dakota, they look like an improved team. That’s not to say it will be easy. I say they beat the Gophers in overtime in the opener before Minnesota rebounds for the big win. Beavers 3-2 (OT), Gophers 5-1
Shane: OK, you’re a homer. … I agree that they didn’t just get lucky against North Dakota, but I think this is going to be an even taller task. Minnesota will sweep. Gophers 3-1, 4-1
Bowling Green (3-1-0) at Clarkson ( 2-2-0)
Jack: I have a tough time calling this one. The Falcons have scored a ton in their first four — 14 goals, to be exact. I don’t know much about the Knights but they’ve beaten Niagara and RIT and were swept by Vermont. I’ll call a split. Knights 4-2, Falcons 5-3.
Shane: I have a suspicion that Bowling Green is a pretty darn good team, and this might be a great chance to improve to 5-1. I’ll say a sweep for the orange and brown. Falcons 3-2, 4-2
Overall: Jack 19-11-1, Shane 19-11-1