Picking WCHA games is not much fun unless you have an adversary.
I'm picking Dan Myers as my foil, without asking him first. (I know him from hockey games we've been at together.)
He is the WCHA correspondent for College Hockey News. And he puts his predictions out there for the world, including me, to see on http://wchahockey.blogspot.com/2010/10/this-weekend_21.html
His predictions ... followed by my superior picks:
UAA at UMD: UMD Sweep ... OK, I buy that. 'Dogs ready to howl this season.
SCSU at MIN: SCSU Sweep ... No way. Gophers sweep. Their power play is rolling; Alex The Great is playing well in the nets. D just needs to knock down a few players down around the net.
CC at MSU: CC Sweep ... Nope. Split on the road.
WIS at DU: Split ... Denver sweeps at home. These teams have developed a nice rivalry.
UND at Maine: Split ... NoDak sweeps in Bangor, Orono or wherever Maine is. Sioux's Matt Frattin is hotter than hot.
UNO at Michigan: UNO Sweep ... Calm down. Remember Nebraska-Omaha is 1-14 at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich. And the Mavericks were 4-13-3 on the road last season. And the Mavs are 4-0 and have never started 5-0 in their history. So this series will be a split and coach Dean Blais will be happy with that.
P.S. Bemidji State and Michigan Tech are idle this week.
After I thump him this week with my predictions, I am not sure Dan will want to challenge me again. (Actually I shanghied him this week.) So if anyone else out there wants to take me on, I'm ready. Just send me your picks on each series involving a WCHA team by noon Thursday (Oct. 27) with a quick comment. I'll choose one to post based on wit, charm or maybe if yours is the first one I see.
We'll run your picks and mine on a post just like this next week, on Friday, Oct. 29.
THE DON SAYS
On older players roles: "We had five freshmen forwards and three freshmen defensemen play over the course of [last] weekend. But some of the older guys can play better. That has to be the foundation. Some of the older guys may be trying to do somebody else's job when [they] are playing with a freshman rather than doing [their] job. We talked to a couple about that."
On Jay Barriball's fast start (5 goals, 2 assists): "It shows how valuable he is to our team. He feels good and, when you feel good as a captain, when you are contributing on the ice, it is easier to contribute off the ice as well."
On how three senior forwards, Barriball, Mike Hoeffel and Jacob Cepis, are playing: "[They] have really stepped up and are playing extremely well for us. They are contributing offensively and they are doing a pretty good job without the puck as well. They are off to the kind of starts you would hope those seniors would have."
SUPER MARIO PLAYING WITH NAT'L TEAM
Mario Lucia, The Don's son, has played a handful of games with the U.S. national development team on weekends, filling in for an injured player.
But last weekend he flew to Ann Arbor, Mich., to be with the under-18 U.S. team full-time until Nov. 14.
This weekend, the under-18 U.S. team will play Cornell and Mercyhurst, then play two USHL teams, Chicago and Muskegon with Gophers recruit Joel Vienneau, a goalie. And, from Nov. 8-14, Lucia and the under-18 U.S. team will be in the Four Nation's Cup in Sweden.
Mario will be back Nov. 15, just in time for Wayzata High School's first practice.
"He has [his extended absence] worked out with school," Don Lucia said, referring to Wayzata. "So he is actually goiong to get a chance to practice with [the U.S. team] and go with them to Sweden in November. It is a great experience for him."
Don Lucia said Mario has not decided where he will play his senior year or picked a college yet. His older brother Tony was the Gophers' co-captain last season.
Mario can go pretty much wherever he wants to college. The NHL's Central Scouting released its preseason ratings on Tuesday and rated Mario an 'A' prospect for the 2011 NHL draft in late June at the Xcel.
That mean Mario is projected to be a first or second round pick. He is the state's only 'A' high school prospect.
"It's a start," Don Lucia said. "Like I told him, 'there are going to be three lists, one at the beginning of the year, one in the middle and one at the end. The one at the end is what matters. ... You have to work every day to better.'
"And he has worked hard. Yuo look at his last couple summers, especially this past summer. He put on 20 pounds. He is still 6-2, 6-2-1/2, and 183, 185. He still looks skinny. He has a lot of room to grow [but] he is having fun.
"When you work, you can reap some rewards and he is being rewarded this fall with an opportunity because of an injury. Now it is up to him to make the most of it."