Friday, January 27, 2012

Back to Conference Play as Huskies Travel to Duluth

First Trip to AMSOIL for Michigan Tech

This weekend marks the first repeat opponent for the Bulldogs. At the start of the marathon eight game road trip, UMD traveled up to Houghton and swept the Huskies 5-3 both Friday and Saturday.

The games were both hard fought and UMD had to be on their game as they trailed at least once in each contest.

This weekend the venue is different and the teams have fallen into more of a groove. UMD is at the top of the league and MTU is fighting for the middle and home ice. The Huskies are currently tied for seventh, one point behind North Dakota.

This week we will cut the chase and banter and go straight to the StatPack. The Bulldogs and Huskies stack up as follows:

Images via Wikipedia: Bulldogs, WCHA, Huskies
UMD is still trying to get the ship righted on the special teams as mentioned on our recent Report Card column. This just may be the weekend to stack up some PP goals.

Prediction. This is the section where Lead Photographer and Staff Writer Andrew Fiskness puts in his two cents on the weekend in the WCHA. I need to give him his proper due because I cannot pick these games with any reliability what so ever. AF has been doing well and has a knack for it, so here they are:

The rest of the WCHA is hoping for a MTU sweep or at least a split so maybe Tech can be a TUC again. UMD needs to keep winning to stay high in the PWR. Which will it be?

Duluth is coming off a sweep at home of the Chargers, meanwhile the Huskies are re-grouping after a loss to Northern Michigan in Houghton. MTU's size and style match up well against UMD. Duluth has played a lot of close games at AMSOIL (UMD has played in six one goal games and all have been at home) and this weekend probably won't be any different. MTU squeaks in a tie as UMD takes three points.

Around the WCHA. 10 teams are in conference action in the WCHA while Nebraska – Omaha and Colorado College take the weekend off.

As stated above, many WCHA teams would benefit from more of their conferencemates in the TUC category and the easiest way for that to happen is for MTU to get points this weekend. The NCAAs are a long way off and I think the CCHA will lose their strangle hold on the PWR as teams beat up on each other in conference play and teams fall out as TUCs. It will be a more even spread among leagues….CCHA will not have seven teams in the tournament, but I digress.

Minnesota State – Mankato at Bemidji State: The Beavers have played well enough at home to get splits in conference play but have had a hard time getting wins on the road. The Mavericks have only one road conference win all season which was against Michigan Tech in November. The road woes will probably continue as Mankato tries to figure out consistent effort in a Beaver sweep.

Denver at Alaska – Anchorage: The Seawolves had a rough road trip and should be happy to be back home even if it is without players who have done much of their scoring this season. Denver seems to be playing batter after the loss at home to the Chargers of UAH. Denver is the better team and should see the importance of the weekend series in Anchorage. The Pioneer's scoring will be too much for the Seawolves in a Denver sweep.

Saint Cloud State and University of Minnesota – Twin Cities (home and home): This series has split written all over it. The Huskies always get up for games against the Gophers and the Gophers inconsistent play will likely result in one loss. SCSU is right in the middle of the WCHA pack and is a team that is still fighting for a top 6 finish. As I said earlier this is a split.

Wisconsin at North Dakota: UND is fighting to stay in the top half of the WCHA and have a two point lead on the Badgers who come to Grand Forks this weekend. This series could be a huge factor in to the final standings if there is a sweep by either team. The Badgers have a good record at home but struggle on the road. UND had been hot, but have not scored many goals in their last 4 games which have resulted in splits. The Badgers offense will probably show up 1 of the 2 nights and will get a split.

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