Luckily, for your sake, I didn’t try something dumb like think of a David Bowie lyric to go with each series this weekend. OK, I tried for like 20 minutes but quit and just decided to listen to the albums Low and Aladdin Sane instead while making my picks.
I also wasted time reviewing dark and light uniforms for each of the 10 WCHA teams earlier today, if you’d like to read the fruits of that.
Anyway, there are some really interesting series this week, but I think by far the one that most will be focused on is in Houghton, where Minnesota State battles Michigan Tech for a shot at first place.
It’s still early enough in league play that I’m still not sure which teams are going to for sure miss the playoffs, or which ones will for sure have home ice — but we’re close. Maybe some smoke will have cleared by the time we’re done here?
Alabama Huntsville at Ferris State
Shane: My gut tells me this is going to be a Bulldogs sweep, but it’s hard to argue with the trends. And a big trend is that Ferris State has pretty much split or gotten two points out of every series it’s played so far this season. The Chargers also won a game the last time they went to Big Rapids. So … Bulldogs 4-1, Chargers 2-1
Jack: Part of me wanted to pick a Chargers sweep just to be contrary, but I, like you, think the power of the split is too strong in Big Rapids. Chargers 3-1, Bulldogs 5-2
Minnesota State at Michigan Tech
Shane: Here’s another trend: The Mavericks are on a nine-game unbeaten streak against the Huskies. Considering how close those teams have been and continue to be in the WCHA standings, that’s pretty crazy. Both teams are playing decent hockey right now, and I think Tech snaps the streak, only to have MSU maintain its lead in the league standings. Huskies 4-2, Mavericks 3-2
Jack: You get to see a pretty good series this weekend, Shane, although I don’t envy the snowy drive ahead of you. And as you said, both teams have been decent, but neither have been dominant recently. This feels like a split. Mavericks 4-2, Huskies 5-3
Alaska at Northern Michigan
Shane: The Wildcats, I think, are going to be the most dangerous team in the WCHA playoffs come March, no matter where they play, considering their goaltending, their defensive commitment and a talented top line. With the Nanooks on a long road trip right now, I think Northern Michigan will be too tough at home. Wildcats 2-1, 1-0
Jack: I noticed lots of hating on Northern Michigan for their style of play. And while their defensive style isn’t the most fun to watch, especially on the wide-open big ice they play on in Marquette, you can’t knock a team for doing what they do best: Getting an early lead then defending the fort. A win is, after all, a win (unless you’re NMU and you’d prefer a scoreless tie). Either way, they’ll get at least two points this weekend, weather by tie or by split. I think three is more likely and since we can’t pick ties, I’ll say a sweep. Wildcats 1-0, 1-0
Arizona State at Bemidji State
Shane: The Sun Devils are getting quite the college hockey education in their first year with trips to Alaska, the U.P. and Madison, just to name a few stops. This weekend, they’re in Bemidji, where I suspect they’ll go home with a nice team picture in front of Paul and Babe and a couple of losses to the suddenly high-scoring Beavers. Beavers 5-2, 4-1
Jack: Saturday’s forecast calls for a high of nine below (not including windchill), so I suspect we’ll see a lot of ski masks and scarves in that tourist trap photo from the Sun Devils. I think the Beavers will likely win this one, but this seems like a trap series for them: They’re coming off a great week in Alaska, but that long trip is rough on most teams. The Beavers are using their conference-mandated bye week (the WCHA builds in bye weeks the week after teams take that long Alaska trip) to get this series in. And the Sun Devils are already 3-1-0 in the other four games they’ve played against WCHA teams. So the Beavers will need to be careful. I think a BSU sweep is most likely but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Devils take one. Sun Devils 4-3, Beavers 6-2
Alaska Anchorage at Lake Superior State (Saturday-Sunday)
Shane: All of the U.P. teams are at home this weekend. There should be some sort of decree made by WCHA commissioner Billy Robertson, shouldn’t there? The Lakers look like a confident team right now, scoring a big split against Bowling Green last week. The Seawolves, on the other hand, are back to struggling a bit. Can they regain the magic they found the last time they were in the U.P.? Maybe one night. Seawolves 3-2, Lakers 3-1
Jack: Here’s a another situation where I don’t know what to make of either of these teams. UAA had more than a month to prep for Bemidji State, and the Beavers overwhelmed them offensively. Lake State, meanwhile, has played basically .500 hockey in the past two months (they are 6-6-4 since the start of November). I think they’re starting to find something. I sense a sweep. Lakers 4-2, 3-2
Bowling Green at Miami (Saturday only)
Shane: The Falcons will step out of WCHA play to take on their in-state rival. This is a good chance to improve the league’s nonconference record, as the RedHawks are not the same as they’ve been in previous years. Falcons 3-2
Jack: If only this single-game start of a home-and-home were on a Tuesday or Thursday… that way I could make a crazy scoring prediction and just use the excuse of #HockeyMACtion. Alas, I don’t think #MACtion counts on weekends, only on weekdays… regardless, I think the Falcons will win here and move a step closer towards winning the (unofficial) Ohio state championship. Falcons 4-2
Last week: Shane 7-3-0, Jack 5-5-0. Overall: Shane 73-43-23, Jack 64-52-23