Last week was a bad week for the Star Tribune’s WCHA prognosticator. Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press was 7-4-1 (he picked Wisconsin to get three points at Alaska Anchorage and Badgers split). I was almost the reverse, 5-7. So congrats, Shane, you were vindicated.
I mocked you about the tie pick and you wrote on your pucKato blog that someone else called you a homer because you picked a split between MSU Mankato and the Gophers. Turns out you should have been more of a homer and picked the Mavericks to sweep. I picked the Gophers to sweep, but they seem to do the opposite of what people think.
This week my worthy adversary is Kevin Pates of the Duluth News-Tribune. He pulled himself together after going through the mental ordeal of the closing the DECC last weekend to pick WCHA games.
Like Shane the week before, Kevin added his own twist to the competition. On splits, Kevin picked which team would win Fri. and which would win Sat. Sorry, no bonus points for such details. We keep it simple. A split is one win, one loss for each team in any order. Like your exacta box ticket in horse racing.
But I like your enthusiasm Kevin for the competition. And there are teams which seem to lose all the time on Fridays and do much better the second night. If I ever get good at this, maybe I will pick who wins first game, who wins the second night, but I’m not there yet.
The WCHA also threw a curveball at the prognosticators, mainly me. The series in Omaha starts on Thursday and finishes Friday. So I have one day less to study stats, go over game reports, consult consultants, and throw darts to come up with predictions.
Without further delay, the picks:
Minnesota Duluth at Minnesota
Roman: The Gophers expected to contend for the MacNaughton Cup this season -- don’t laugh -- and this weekend is their chance to make a splash. They need at least three points, a sweep would be better for some mojo into the holiday break. But their power play was powerless against Minnesota State Mankato last weekend. And what has happened to Jay Barriball’s magic wand? He has stopped scoring. Barriball scored his ninth goal of the season in Gophers’ 10th game, a 3-3 tie with Wisconsin on Nov. 6. He has no goals in the past six games. UMD is coming off a split against a strong Denver team. ‘Dogs are No. 2 in country, have only two losses and probably have best line in WCHA in Justin Fontaine and the two Connolly men. ... Split
Kevin: If the Bulldogs can retain their energy after an ultra-emotional series last weekend with Denver, to end their time at the DECC, it could be a Minnesota Duluth sweep at Mariucci Arena. Fourteen of UMD’s 16 games have been decided by two goals or less, so expect a close series, and probably OT. If the Gophers are over all their flu cases, it will make for a classic battle. Two closes victories for a ... UMD sweep
North Dakota at Minnesota State
Roman: The Fighting Sioux are 14-1-1 against the Mavs their last 16 meetings and need just two points for coach Dave Hakstol to have his best first half in seven seasons. Hack got his 100th career WCHA win last Friday. Senior Matt Frattin has 15 goals. What a year he is having. Mavs are coming off a sweep of the U of M. MSU Mankato has killed off 13 penalties in a row. Won’t go quietly but ... North Dakota sweep
Kevin: Phil Cook did the trick in stopping 82 of 85 Minnesota shots on goal last weekend for Mankato. He has the Mavericks on the move with four straight wins. Knocking off North Dakota, 6-1-1 the last eight games, will be a task but I see North Dakota Friday and Mankato Saturday. ... Split
Bemidji State at Wisconsin
Roman: The Beavers have to be feeling good after sweeping Nebraska Omaha at home last weekend 3-0, 3-1. BSU scored in the last second of the second period on Saturday to tie the score and turn that game around. The Beavers have not given up a power-play goal in seven of the past nine games. The Badgers split up at Alaska Anchorage. Big question with them is how does Wisconsin keep finding defensemen who can score so much? Sophomore D-man Justin Schultz has 11 goals. ... Split
Kevin: Bemidji State is flying high after allowing just one goal total in a home sweep of Omaha. It has taken a while for the Beavers to find their WCHA feet, but I see a BSU win Friday, and the Badgers, just back from Anchorage, winning Saturday. ... Split
Colorado College at St. Cloud State
Roman: CC is hot lately with five wins in last seven games. Especially on fire is freshmen left wing Jaden Schwartz but he is leaving this weekend for Canada’s selection camp for World Juniors. Camp starts Sunday in Toronto, so Schwartz will probably leave after Friday’s game. He should be a lock for Team Canada. He has 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points. Huskies were swept by North Dakota last weekend. Senior Garrett Roe has six goals and eight assists vs. CC. ... Split
Kevin: Just what the heck is going on with St. Cloud State, picked to finish second in the WCHA by the coaches? Just one win the last seven games. I say the Huskies will be glad to be back home after two weeks on the road and will sweep Colorado College even thought the Tigers have won three straight. ... St. Cloud State sweep
Michigan Tech at Nebraska Omaha (Thurs.-Fri. series)
Roman: The Mavericks will be in a nasty mood after getting swept at Bemidji State. Tech has lost eight games in a row but the Huskies seemingly can’t help themselves. These are two most penalized teams in WCHA. UNO is averaging 16.8 penalty minutes per game, Tech 15.9. So special teams will be especially big. UNO, which had risen as high as No. 4 in the national polls, is 0-for-17 on the power play since Nov. 13 at St. Cloud State. But Mavs are 5-1 at home this season so ... UNO sweep
Kevin: Michigan Tech has to pull out of its tailspin soon after eight straight losses. This is as good a time as any, and maybe the Dean Blais Mavericks are vulnerable after two losses at Bemidji State. Michigan Tech wins Friday and UNO on Saturday. ... Split
Denver at Alaska Anchorage
Roman: Being completely honest, sometimes I just pick opposite my opponent to stoke the rivalry. This is one instance of doing that. The Seawolves will baffle DU one night, don’t care which night, and somehow win. Call it the Anchorage advantage. ... Split
Kevin: The Pioneers have won seven of the last eight games and freshman Sam Brittain has been great in goal. Sure, it’s almost impossible for anyone to sweep in Anchorage, but I’ll take the Pios both nights. Anchorage has won Friday and lost Saturday in four straight league series, two at home and two on the road. I’m still picking a ... Denver sweep
So that’s five differences this weekend between me and Kevin. Which leads to a question Clint Eastwood asks in his movies, "Do you feel lucky, punk? Well do you, punk?"
Yes, I do. Gotta do better than last week.