The upcoming weekend features five WCHA series as the second half of the season gets under way! Heading into the weekend, the top six clubs are separated by just four points. Nebraska Omaha has taken over sole possession of first place with 19 points in 14 games, followed by St. Cloud State in second with 18 points (14 gp), North Dakota (12 gp) and Denver (14 gp) tied for third with 17 points each, Minnesota State (14 gp) in fifth with 16, and Minnesota (12 gp) in sixth with 15 points. Both North Dakota and Minnesota currently have two games in hand on the rest of the field. Two teams, Minnesota Duluth and Wisconsin, are tied for seventh – each with 13 points in 14 games, Bemidji State and Colorado College share ninth with 11 points in 14 games, Michigan Tech is 11th with nine points (14 gp) and Alaska Anchorage is 12th with five points (14 gp).
This Week In The WCHA:
Anchorage at Minnesota
#1 Minnesota should get a couple of wins against last place Anchorage who has just 1 win in the WCHA. Minnesota’s goal differential is +6 and Anchorage has a -20, both inside and outside of the conference. The top scorer for Anchorage only has 6 goals (and 10 points), and their top point producers both have 3 goals and 11 points. Although the last time these two teams met earlier this season Anchorage Minnesota only got 3 points, there isn’t much on paper and performance so far this season to suggest the Seawolves will win this weekend at Mariucci.
A few key stats (WCHA Games): Anchorage special teams power play = 11.1% vs. Minnesota’s 23.7; penalty kill for Alaska is 78.4 vs. 85.7 for Minnesota.
Goaltending: Rob Gunderson, AA = 2.63 GAA/.902 sv % vs. Adam Wilcox 2.13/.906.
Player Note: Erik Haula will be out this weekend with a hand injury and is questionable for next weekend's series when Minnesota hosts UND.
THE CALL: Gopher Sweep
Tech at UMD
If UMD is going to correct a 5 win first half, they need to start with 2 wins this weekend at home against 11th place Tech. The Bulldog’ issue has been a lack of scoring and trying to replace all of the offense they had last season. This series will be a test to see if they can score 4 goals 2 nights in a row and sweep.
THE CALL: 3 points for UMD
CC at UND
UND has traditionally started a run after the New Year, and no better way than at home against 9th place CC. The Tigers have been struggling, can they get things back on track at the Ralph?
THE CALL: UND Sweep
Wisconsin at Minnesota State
This should be a good series in Mankato who is 11-1 in their last 12 overall games, including sweeps of Wisconsin, Bemidji and Anchorage. Wisconsin will be motivated in the second half to try and make a season out of a first half of the season that only brought them 4 wins. This is sort of a pivotal series for these teams for different reasons: if Mankato wants to compete for a top finish they need the wins, and if Wisconsin wants to finish in the top half they need the points this weekend. Key stat: Mankato is averaging 3 goals per game while Wisconsin is averaging 2.
THE CALL: 3 points for Mankato
Omaha at Denver
This will be a good series to watch this weekend pitting first place Omaha against 3rd place Denver. The last few seasons Denver has performed about opposite of what is predicted, and this season is no different.
THE CALL: Split
Tag(s): Woog's Wisdom