The guest picker this week is Steve from North Dakota. I know his true identity, but he is hiding from somebody -- maybe the NCAA because he is a big Fighting Sioux fan -- so I promised not to squeal.

He is a man of few words and lots of hockey savvy -- he played the game once, is that telling too much? -- while I am a crusty, old sportswriter. So this should be quite the battle. Naturally, we disagreed on what will happen in every series.

Last week Joe The Lawyer from St. Paul trounced me, getting two more games correct than I did. This week I feel confident Steve from North Dakota has zero chance to repeat that performance and beat me. I spent days, hours, OK, a few minutes researching stats on every series. 

So without further adieu, the prognostications: 

Wisconsin (1-4-1, 1-2-1) at Gophers (6-2-1, 3-2-1)

Roman says: The stinking Badgers, as Glen Sonmor, the old ex-coach and radio color guy would say, are in town. But it's hard to get up much animosity for them this season. They are so bad and come to Mariucci not at full strength. Forward Mark Zengerle (broken finger) is out, and he is their best player, a 50-point guy last season. Their top freshman, Nic Kerdiles, is out, too. The NCAA suspended him for 10 games because of amateur rule violations and then he got hurt playing for the U.S. national development team in exhibitions. A double ouch. And assistant coach Bill Butters, their defensive coach, quit abruptly last week. Head coach Mike Eaves said somebody must think he has big broad shoulders to handle these problems. ... But Gophers won't take it easy on Badgers, that's for sure. They have yet to sweep a WCHA series and at their one point per WCHA game pace -- actually  1.16 -- they will finish in the middle of the pack. They need to step it up. ... Power play scored five goals last weekend vs. Alaska Anchorage. That's good. But five-on-five, Gophers scored just one goal. That's bad. ... Freshman goalie Adam Wilcox has played well, but Badgers will fire more shots on him than the 14 the Seawolves bombarded him with last Friday. This is a border battle after all. Pick: Split

Steve says: After their last 3 games on the road the Gophers are going to be geared up in front of a home crowd against a struggling opponent and rivalry aside, UMTC's firepower will be too much for the Badgers. Pick: Gophers sweep

Colorado College (7-3, 4-0) vs. Denver (7-1, 5-1), first game in Colorado Springs, second in Denver

Roman says: These teams meet four times this season and the team with the best record gets the Gold Pan Trophy. CC won it last season, going 2-1-1; DU the previous three seasons. ... Four CC forwards are on a point-per-game pace. All have 10 points in 10 games. They are senior Rylan Schwartz, William Rapuzzi and Scott Winkler and junior Alexander Krushelnyski. ... CC is five-for-10 on the power play in its current four-game winning streak. ...   Senior Chris Knowlton of DU has five goals in his last three games (hat trick, goal, two goals). Pioneers are fourth in nation in scoring, 4.12 goals per game, and in defense, giving up 1.88. ... Goalie Adam Murray is out with a lower body injury, but DU has two other capable goalies. Junior Sam Brittain has a 2.02 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage. ... D-men have scored 11 of the Pioneers' 33 goals. David Makowski and Joey LaLeggia both have four goals. Pick: Split

Steve says: Denver will be CC's toughest test so far this year and that maybe true for everyone facing the 3 headed DU net monster and a healthy scoring staff. Pick: Pioneers sweep

Minnesota Duluth (2-5-1, 0-3-1) at North Dakota (4-3-1, 2-1-1)

Roman says: The team formerly known as the Fighting Sioux is 4-0-0 on Fridays this season, 0-3-1 on Saturdays. Lots of splits there. ... UND is ranked No. 5/6 in national polls. ... Junior goalie Clarke Saunders, the transfer from Alabama Huntsville, has a 1.98 gaa and a .931 save pct. ... Senior wing Danny Kristo leads the team in scoring (1-6-7) in six games; he was suspended for the first two. Three players have three goals and three assists for six points: Rocco Grimaldi, Connor Gaarder and Mark MacMillan. ... UMD's top scorer is senior right wing Mike Seidel (5-4-9). He has at least one point in seven of the Bulldogs' eight games. He has four power-play goals. ... The Bulldogs lead the nation in penalty minutes, 19 per game. ... North Dakota was picked to finish second in the WCHA preseason media poll, UMD fifth. Bulldogs pretty desperate for a win. Pick: Split

Steve says: UMD has struggled mightily in their last two conference matchups, managing to only collect 1 point which came against an equally struggling Wisconsin team. On the road against a tough conference foe, UMD will likely leave empty handed. Pick: UND sweeps

Michigan Tech (2-6-0, 1-5-0) at Bemidji State (2-3-1, 1-2-1)

Roman says: Michigan Tech is on a five-game losing streak since beating you know who (the Gophers 5-3 on Oct. 19). The Tigers have goalie woes. Freshman Pheonix Copley has been a sieve -- 1-5-0, 4.30 gaa, .854 save pct. Blake Pietila is Huskies top scorer with five goals and two assists for seven points. ... BSU's strength is in the nets. Andrew Walsh has been a rock. He is only 2-3-1, but has a 2.32 gaa and a .924 save pct. and he thrives at Sanford Center, where the Beavers have not play in almost a month. At home, Walsh is 7-2-0 in two season with a 1.41 gaa and .960 save pct. and three shutouts. ... BSU is 5-0-1 against Huskies in their last six meetings. ... Defense in front of Walsh has blocked 88 shots; defenseman Sam Windle has most bruises after 15 blocks. It all sets up for a Beavers' sweep. But who believes in facts and figures. Pick: Beavers sweep

Steve says: This is a good chance for BSU to get over .500 in WCHA play, but after a 1-5 conference record look for Tech to come out hungry at least one night. Pick: Split


Next weekend there are only three WCHA series while five conference teams, including the Gophers, play nonconference opponents. The schedule:

St. Cloud State at Minnesota Duluth

Minnesota State Mankato at  Wisconsin

Alaska Anchorage at Bemidji State

Gophers at Vermont

North Dakota at Notre Dame

New Hampshire at Denver

Yale at Colorado College

Alabama Huntsville at Omana