We’re at the month mark of the regular season, and six of the 10 WCHA teams have eight games to play in that time.
In other words: Get ready for a sprint to the finish line.
Minnesota State and Michigan Tech have already clinched home ice and Bowling Green can this weekend if things break right for them.
All that said, the importance of these last few series just makes these picks that much more difficult.
I’ll do my best here, but it will be tough. How will I do? Look below!
Bowling Green at Ferris State
Shane: No team’s happier to be home than the Bulldogs, who played 10 of their last 12 games on the road. Brutal schedule, one in which they’ve only mustered two wins, and playing back-to-back-to back-to-back series against Minnesota State and Bowling Green’s no fun either. The last of those four weekends comes now against the Falcons, who have been pretty good on the road this season (9-3-3). I think this will be a split. Bulldogs 2-1, Falcons 3-1
Jack: The Bulldogs might be glad to be home, but they might not be glad to be seeing the Falcons again. BGSU swept Ferris last week in Bowling Green. If they can do it in Big Rapids they’ll clinch home ice. If not, things get interesting. What will happen? Well, I prefer things to get interesting, so I’m going to go for a Bulldogs sweep. Bulldogs 3-2, 4-3.
Bemidji State at Northern Michigan
Shane: Jack, in his section of today’s column, pointed out the Beavers’ road woes this season, and I was shocked by that stat (1-10-2 in non-neutral-site road games). Talk about motivation to get home ice for the playoffs! The host Wildcats stand in their way right now, sitting in fourth place, four points ahead of them. I think that’s where things will stand at the end of the weekend, too. Beavers 4-2, Wildcats 3-2
Jack: Not only are the Beavers just 1-10-2 in true road games (that win in Grand Forks keeps looking more and more crazy, doesn’t it?), they’re also 0-4-0 in the Upper Peninsula so far. I’m sure the Beavers are tired of that place (especially after being stranded somewhere between Iron Mountain and Marquette while travelling to Northern on Wednesday night). It’s not likely, but I just said I prefer things to be interesting: If both the Beavers and the Bulldogs sweep we’ll have a three-way tie for the final home ice slot with six games to play. I want that to happen because it would make the rest of the season a whole lot of fun. And besides, the Beavers have been unpredictable all season so a sweep isn’t out of the question. BRING ON THE CHAOS! Beavers 4-2, 2-1
Alabama Huntsville at Lake Superior State
Shane: This is one of the more intriguing matchups of the weekend, surprisingly. If there’s a sweep in this series, the losing team will be in a real dogfight to make the league playoffs, while the winner would create some separation from the bottom. This is just the second home weekend for the Lakers since Thanksgiving. Lakers 3-2, Chargers 2-1
Jack: The Chargers got worked over by Tech two weeks ago in Houghton (5-0 and 11-1) and then had a week to think about it. Lake State has lost three straight. Both teams need some points, and I think that’s what will happen. Chargers 3-1, Lakers 4-2
Michigan Tech at Alaska Anchorage
Shane: The Seawolves are back home for the first time in more than a month, but more importantly, they’re back in the state of Alaska, the only state they’ve won in. No easing back into the comforts of the Sully, though, as they get Michigan Tech. The Huskies are on the road for the first time in 10 games. There will be an adjustment. Seawolves 3-2, Huskies 5-1
Jack: I hadn’t realized the Seawolves hadn’t won in the lower 48. But then again, they’ve only won seven games anywhere. Tech, meanwhile, has won 22 games. It’s going to take an exemplary effort from the Seawolves to beat the Huskies, but I’ll give them a split. Huskies 6-2, Seawolves 3-1
Minnesota State at Alaska
Shane: These two teams met in Mankato two months ago, and the Nanooks upset the Mavericks in overtime on the first night of a season split. Minnesota State has since risen to No. 1 and have held that spot for the last three weeks. These will be the final home games for Alaska, and I think both of those things will give them some extra oomph — on Saturday night, especially. Mavericks 4-2, Nanooks 2-1
Jack: MSU’s only loss since December was to Bemidji State in the North Star Cup. Before that, they lost to Alaska at home. I agree that the Nanooks will be a challenge but I think the Mavs keep it up and earn the sweep. Mavericks 4-2, 4-3
Last week: Shane 9-1-0, Jack 7-3-0
Overall: Shane 98-59-15, Jack 82-75-15