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The first half of the season is coming to an end, Jack, and I’d say we’ve done fairly well with our picks, especially considering there have been a few surprises in what’s become a pretty darn-good conference. No more wasting time, though, I have shopping to do:

Lake Superior State at Ferris State

Shane: Lake Superior State less than a period an a half from pulling off a stunning upset at North Dakota a week ago but couldn’t close the deal. The Lakers appeared to play UND tough the next night, too, despite another loss, so that could give them some confidence going to Big Rapids against a good team that still has a lot of questions to answer Considering Ferris State’s brutal upcoming schedule (just two home games in their next 12 after this), these games are vital to the Bulldogs to stay in home-ice contention for the second half of the season. They’ll sweep at home. Bulldogs 3-1, 2-1

Jack: The Lakers have definitely shown improvement since struggling to start the season. And that first game in Grand Forks had me bugging out for a good hour until UND rallied for the big win. The Bulldogs, too, haven’t been themselves as of late. I think we may see a pair of close games but I’m just not confident in the Lakers holding on against quality teams. I say sweep too. Bulldogs 4-1, 2-1

Northern Michigan at Bemidji State

Shane: The luck has flipped a bit for these two teams, with Northern Michigan and the once-red-hot Mathias Dahlström suddenly giving up goals (10 at home last weekend to Bowling Green!) and Bemidji State going unbeaten in its last three games after dropping seven close ones in a row. This should be an entertaining series for you to cover this weekend, Jack, and I think you’ll see a series split. Beavers 3-2, Wildcats 4-2

Jack: I agree that this should be a good series. Dahlström suddenly looks only human as opposed to a puck-stopping robot (he’s all the way up to 1.71 GAA now!) but I have a feeling he should get back on track soon. The Beavers, meanwhile, have been scoring a lot of goals lately — seven in each of the past two weekends — but they’ll be without leading scorer Brendan Harms for at least four weeks. That will be a big blow for them, simply because Harms is such a great playmaker for them. (The Fitzgerald triplets, on the other hand, are just now starting to heat up — watch out.) I agree that this seems like a split, though. Wildcats 3-2, Beavers 5-3

Alabama Huntsville at Alaska

Shane: I was really impressed with what I saw out of Alaska last weekend. The Nanooks would be a home-ice contender if not for the fact that they’re banned for the postseason. After dropping five in a row, Alaska has split its last three series. Alabama Huntsville clearly has improved from last season, and I think it will score some goals this weekend, but I can’t call an upset. Nanooks 4-2, 5-2

Jack: These Alaska trips are never easy on any team, but the Huntsville-to-Fairbanks voyage is the longest in the league. You’re right that these should be entertaining games — they could be high-scoring, since thew Nanooks can give up some goals — but I’ll still call a UAF sweep. Nanooks 5-4, 5-3

Minnesota Duluth at Michigan Tech

Shane: I’ll definitely have this series pulled up on WCHA.tv this weekend while covering the MSU games in Mankato. Should be a great nonconference matchup between the No. 4 Huskies and the No. 9 Bulldogs, as Jack wrote about in this week’s WCHA column. The two teams have lost just three of their last 23 games (that includes all of Tech’s games), so the natural inclination is to call a series split. Huskies 4-2, Bulldogs 4-2

Jack: I’ve said this a lot this year, but Houghton is once again the place to be this weekend. Especially if you like hockey. (If you don’t like hockey, I’m sure Lake Superior is also lovely this time of year.) When I talked to Huskies coach Mel Pearson he said he didn’t see a lot of differences between these teams, and I tend to agree. I’ll also call a split. Bulldogs 3-1, Huskies 5-3

Princeton at Minnesota State

Shane: The No. 3 Mavericks close out the first half of their schedule with a nonconference series against the rebuilding Tigers. If Minnesota State was due to have a hiccup, I think that happened last Friday at home against Alaska when it lost in overtime. That got MSU’s attention, and I think it continues its high-flying scoring act this weekend. Mavericks 5-1, 5-2

Jack: Minnesota State’s scoring offense is No. 3 in the country (behind, somewhat surprisingly, Robert Morris and Michigan). Princeton’s offense is the worst in the country and they’ve given up more than 3.5 goals a game. And to make matters worse for the Tigers, George Parros retired from the NHL last week, depriving them of their most famous NHL alumnus. I can’t see the Tigers tripping up the Mavs this week. Mavericks 6-1, 5-1