I haven't done very well lately predicting how the Gophers will fare these past two weekend. I picked them to sweep in Denver, they were swept. I picked them to split with Bemidji State, they swept the Beavers.
But if I keep doing this long enough, I will be right on them. Maybe this week.
They need at least a split to be assured of having at least a share of the WCHA lead going into the last weekend. But I think they can do a little better, and come home with three points.
This week I asked Matthew Semisch to challenge. He is a freelance sportswriter and USCHO.com's stringer on University of Nebraska at Omaha men's hockey games at home.
Minnesota (21-11-1, 17-7-0) at Nebraska Omaha (14-12-6, 11-8-5)
Matthew: This is such a big series for both teams, and for different reasons. The U has already clinched home ice in the first round of the playoffs, which is something UNO hasn't managed yet, but the Gophers are only two points clear at the top of the tree with four games left to go. I can't help feeling that while Minnesota is a very good team and will surely look it against the Mavericks this weekend, the Gophers might be looking over their shoulders at the trailing pack more than UNO will be with the teams around it in the middle of the league. Both teams would probably be happy with a split, though, so that's what I'm calling for this series … SPLIT
Roman: There’s a real danger going into a series hoping for a split. The Gophers found that out at Denver two weekends ago when they lost 5-3 the first time and 4-3 in OT the second after leading much of that night. The Gophers have had problems on small rinks, going only 3-4-1 and last season UNO beat them twice at Mariucci, 5-4 and 4-2 after taking big early leads. The Gophers should know what they are up against. … Mavs forward Matt White needs just three points to become the first UNO player with 40 points since 2007-08. Five Mavs have 10 goals or more, the latest to reach that total is Ryan Walters, a former Gophers recruit. … GOPHERS WIN AND TIE
Colorado College (16-12-2, 13-10-1) at Minnesota Duluth (20-7-5, 14-6-4)
Matthew: UMD hasn't been on the best run of form lately, only winning three of its last seven games, but the MacNaughton Cup is the one trophy the Bulldogs' senior class hasn't won. That ought to give UMD a big incentive to perform over these final two weeks of the regular season, and there's also the fact that the Bulldogs are still only two points below Minnesota at the top of the WCHA table. CC didn't impress me very much last weekend, and was somewhat lucky to come away with two points from their series at home against UNO. … UMD WINS, TIES
Roman: 2012 has not been good to CC. Tigers are only 4-6-2. Have fallen back into pack in WCHA. Jaden Schwartz keeps scoring; he has points in 22 of 24 games. CC had lost a game each of the past two weekends when leading going into third period. … UMD is 10-5-1 at Amsoil this season and has the nation’s top scoring team at 3.72 goals per game. The power play is cooking lately, going six of 19 (31.6 percent) in the past four games. Sophomore J.T. Brown (upper body injury) will probably miss his second series, even so … BULLDOGS SWEEP
North Dakota (17-11-3, 13-10-1) at Denver (18-10-4, 13-7-4)
Matthew: UND's another team that I expected to perform better than it has this season and, most years, UND v DU at this point in the season would be the league's highlight of the weekend. Not so this time around, although both teams have a lot to play for still. The Pioneers are only four points behind Minnesota with four games remaining, and North Dakota's trying to clinch home ice for the playoffs. There's a lot riding on this series for both teams, and just like with UNO and Minnesota, I think neither of the teams playing at Magness this weekend could have many complaints if they share the points. … SPLIT
Roman: The Fighting Sioux are 5-1-1 in their last seven games. Junior center had his first three-goal series last weekend when UND took three points home from Michigan Tech. Defenseman Ben Blood of North Dakota will play in his 150th game on Friday; forward Danny Kristo needs three points for 100 in his career. … DU leads the WCHA with a 23.3 percent power play. Goalie Sam Brittain has been solid since his recent return after offseason knee surgery. He is 4-2 with a 2.51 goals-against average. … DENVER SWEEPS (stays in WCHA title hunt)
St. Cloud State (13-15-4, 10-11-3) at Michigan Tech (13-15-4, 10-10-4)
Matthew: Though it's not currently in the top six in the WCHA, Tech has been the league's surprise package this year, and Mel Pearson's brilliant turnaround with that program deserves to see the Huskies skating at home in the first round of the league playoffs. St. Cloud State is in great form, though, having won three of its last four games and losing the other one in overtime. For this weekend, though, I'm going with heart over head. … TECH SWEEPS
Roman: One of the three teams tied for fourth place – UNO, CC or NoDak, all with 27 pts. – has to falter for either SCSU (23) or Tech (24) to get home ice for first round of WCHA playoffs. Huskies have not stayed home for playoffs since early 1990s, but are coming off consecutive one-point weekends. … The Huskies split at UAA last weekend, losing 3-2 in OT, winning 8-2. They have dominated Tech, winning last five games and holding a 17-2-1 dominance in last 20 games. Almost said Huskies win and tie … SCSU WINS, TIES
Wisconsin (13-15-2, 8-14-2) at Bemidji State (15-14-3, 9-12-3)
Matthew: Maybe it shouldn't, but it blows my mind that Wisconsin is in 10th place in the WCHA at this point of the season and 16 points behind the league leaders. What's even more surprising to me - come on, Roman, even someone as brilliant as yourself couldn't have predicted this in preseason - UW is behind Bemidji State in the standings. BSU is now all but mathematically out of the running for home ice in the first round of the playoffs, but I can't help feeling that Tom Serratore's boys will relish the opportunity to go out with a bang and get one over on Bucky at home. Things just get weirder and weirder at the bottom, don't they? Three points for the Beavers. … BSU WINS AND TIES
Roman: The Badgers have been awful on the road. They have one WCHA road win, but are coming off a 5-2 upset of visiting Denver last Saturday. UW is 3-0 all-time vs. the Beavers. … BSU is also not a very good road team, but is 11-4-1 at home and should bounce back well after being swept by the Gophers 3-0 and 4-1 at Mariucci last weekend. … BEAVERS SWEEP
Alaska (11-17-4) v Alaska-Anchorage (8-20-2), home-and-home series
Matthew: UAA has had a really tough time this season, but I suppose the Seawolves might go into the rivalry series this weekend safe-ish in the knowledge that Alaska's had its troubles this season, too. The Nanooks are second-bottom in the CCHA right now and six points behind Notre Dame and Northern Michigan. UA looks stuck there. There are so many ways that this series could go, but just to be a union guy, I'm going with the WCHA boys over their intrastate rival. … UAA SWEEPS
Roman: The Seawolves have had a disappointing season. Winning the Governor’s Cup over the Nanooks would make them feel a little better. Alaska-Fairbanks has won the Cup the past two years. ... SPLIT
NOTE: Minnesota State Mankato is idle this weekend.