I love these weeks, and there needs to be more of them. It’s good for the WCHA when all 10 WCHA teams are in action, especially when they’re all playing against each other, which is the case this weekend. It’s just the second time this season that it has happened, but it gets everyone paying attention to the races taking place up and down the standings.
So what’s going to happen?
Ferris State at Alaska-Anchorage
Shane: The Bulldogs get a to leave Alaska a bit early, thanks to this Thursday-Friday series. Both of these teams are trying to break winless streaks, with Ferris State hoping to stay in the hunt for home ice and Anchorage hoping to do the same but also get out of the conference basement. The Bulldogs dominated the Seawolves two months ago in Big Rapids, but Anchorage has been better at home than on the road. Bulldogs 3-1. Seawolves 2-1
Jack: For some reason both Ferris/Anchorage series this year have been Thursday/Friday instead of Friday/Saturday. Maybe the coaching staffs just don’t like playing on Saturdays? Regardless, Ferris has lost their last four games and will be looking to get out of their rut. I think they’ll score one from the Seawolves on the road, if only yo snap the streak. Seawolves 3-2, Bulldogs 2-1.
Alaska at Bowling Green
Shane: The only thing that would make this a more intriguing series would be if Alaska was eligible for the postseason. These are two of the hottest teams in the league, if not the country with just three non-wins (one loss, two ties) combined in their last 13 games. The Falcons swept the Nanooks in Fairbanks in early November, right after Alaska got the news about its NCAA sanctions. I’ve been on the BG bandwagon all year, but I think this will be a split. Nanooks 4-3, Falcons 4-2
Jack: Seems like the BG bandwagon is getting bigger every week. And with good reason: The Falcons keep proving to everyone in the country just how good they are. The Nanooks struggled early in the season — they were swept by Bemidji State the week before the sanctions were announced then were swept by the Falcons the week after — but they seem to have rallied from that initial shock and are playing some great hockey. I agree with you that this looks like a split. Falcons 5-3, Nanooks 2-1.
Michigan Tech at Northern Michigan
Shane: This should be a good series between U.P. rivals, starting Friday in Marquette before moving to Houghton on Saturday. The Wildcats are on a six-game winless streak but one with three ties, including last Saturday against Minnesota State. The Huskies have been impressive, and it took a couple of great goaltending performances to beat them recently. Mathias Dahlstrom missed the MSU series last week. If that’s still the case, I say … Huskies 4-2, 4-3
Jack: That Phillips/Dahlstrom matchup would have me (or anyone who loves good goalie battles) salivating, but if Dahlstrom is still out, as you say, I don’t know if I can see Michael Doan or Derrick Dun being able to stop Tech’s powerful forward group. I’ll agree with the sweep. Huskies 3-1, 5-3
Lake Superior State at Minnesota State
Shane: The Mavericks swept the Lakers by a combined 10-0 score over Thanksgiving weekend in Sault Ste. Marie, but coach Mike Hastings insists that a very different Lake Superior State team is coming to Mankato this weekend, one that won a tournament championship its last time out. Still, the Lakers have been shut out six times this season, including in a shootout win in that Florida tournament. Minnesota State just scores too many goals to lose. Mavericks 4-1, 4-1
Jack: You basically made all the relevant points to this series. The Lakers do seem to be a slightly better team than before — freshman Gordan Diefel has improved, at least — but I can’t see him shutting down the Mavericks’ offense. Mavericks 5-2, 4-2
Alabama-Huntsville at Bemidji State
Shane: The Chargers and the Beavers are a combined 4-0-4 in their last eight games, so something has to give, right? Alabama Huntsville has some swagger right now after scoring its first-ever WCHA sweep, but it has to go on the road to face a Bemidji State team that’s tough at home. An improved Huntsville team is good for the conference, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a tie (or two) this weekend. But I’m going with … Beavers 4-2, 3-1
Jack: This may put me in hot water in Bemidji, but the Chargers have already won one game at the Sanford Center in the past year and I see no reason to think they won’t be able to do it again. I think these games are going to be really fun to watch and cover, especially if the BSU student section returns from break a few days early for some “We Hate Huntsville” chants. I think the Beavers and Chargers split. Beavers 4-2, Chargers 3-2
Last week: Shane 5-3-2, Jack 4-4-2
Overall: Shane 71-42-11, Jack 66-47-11