Last week, I opened up with a solid 5-1-1 (.785) record, but what I would like to point out before getting into this week’s picks is how I should have bought some lottery tickets after the Adrian/Wis.-River Falls series. Don’t ask me how, but I successfully nailed both scores of both games in that series, with the correct winner in each. Beginner’s luck we’ll call it. :)

Now onto this week, and we’ve got some very interesting matchups out west.

No. 10 Bethel vs. No. 3 Gustvus Adolphus
We open this week with a MIAC early season home-and-home showdown between upstart Bethel, who is a new face in the top 10 this week, taking on traditional MIAC powerhouse Gustavus Adolphus. The Gusties have had a stranglehold on this conference for a decade now,  but they did sustain some heavy losses to graduation with their top two scorers from a year ago graduating, as well as goalie Danielle Justice, who was a four-year starter between the pipes. GAC opened 2012-13 with a 3-2 win over Wis.-Superior though, so it doesn’t look like they’ve lost too much in their step so far.

Bethel is the team turning heads this week after their 3-1 start, which includes a 4-1 win over NCAA Tournament participant Concordia (Minn.) last week and a ranking for the first time. Bethel’s top line of Cristina Masten, Lindsay Burman, and Biz Huss has combined for 21 points through four games. The Royals also return senior goalie Jess Newstrom in goal, who might be one of the most underrated goalies in Division III.

I’m taking a split in this one, with each team winning at home. We’ll go 3-1 Gustavus the first night and then 3-2 Bethel the next.

St. Scholastica at St. Norbert (2)
St. Scholastica and St. Norbert are both in their third year as varsity programs, with each looking to be on the cusp of taking the next step towards the nation’s elite programs. Both teams are 1-0-1 so far in 2012-13, and this weekend they’ll meet for a pair of games in DePere, Wis., to establish early season which team is ahead of the other as they look to continue to build their programs up.

I’m calling another split here, with Scholastica winning the first night, 4-3, and then St. Norbert coming back for a 4-2 victory on Saturday.

Wis.-River Falls at Wis.-Superior (2)
While St. Norbert and St. Scholastica are the two schools looking to prove themselves worthy of the NCHA’s elite, Wis.-Superior and Wis.-River Falls have long been two of the traditional powers in the conference. The Yellowjackets and Falcons have combined to win 14 of the NCHA’s 24 regular season and postseason titles over the last 12 years. Wis.-River Falls is 2-0, with two wins over Adrian so far, while Wis.-Superior is 3-2, with losses to GAC and Wis.-Eau Claire. Does Wis.-Superior find some new found motivation after being named the host for the 2013 Frozen Four? I think they’ll take one of these games at home in Wessman. We’ll say Wis.-Superior wins, 2-1, on Friday and then Wis.-River Falls rallies back for a 5-2 win on Saturday.

Stevenson vs. Franklin Pierce (2)
Rounding out this week’s picks are a pair of two new programs to varsity women’s hockey this year. Stevenson and Franklin Pierce are both in their inaugural campaigns, and they’ll get an early look at how each other’s programs are stacking up in comparison. Stevenson split with Buffalo State so far, and Franklin Pierce has lost to Salve Regina and Nichols. Stevenson is in the odd situation of not playing a home game until Dec. 30, so the Mustangs will certainly be road-tested by the new year. I’ll take Stevenson in a sweep this weekend by scores of 5-1 and 6-3.

2012-13 Record: 5-1-1
Last Week: 5-1-1