Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Morning Skate

The Mavericks are on the road in Fairbanks, Alaska, this weekend for what ought to be a challenging series against the Alaska Nanooks. Recall that Alaska upset MSU 5-4 in overtime on Dec. 5. The Mavericks have lost just once since that night, which is why they're ranked No. 1 in the country.

Alaska may be ineligible for postseason play, but that doesn't mean it a team not to be taken seriously.   The Mavericks need to be aware that they're playing a potential spoiler. This weekend marks the Nanooks' final home games of the season, and they still have a shot to finish in the upper division of the WCHA. And that "home-ice" position remains a goal, coach Dallas Ferguson said in this week's USCHO column.

For more on the series, check out The Free Press' College Hockey Gameday feature, and read Tim O'Donnell's preview in Fairbanks' News Miner.

O'Donnell this week also writes about MSU goalie Stephon Williams, a Fairbanks native who is expected to play in his hometown for the first time since his junior year in high school (Cole Huggins played in both games at Alaska last season).

Going around the WCHA ...

Bowling Green at Ferris State: The visiting Falcons are expecting a physical series in Big Rapids, and why not? This weekend makes it four consecutive games between the two teams. Last week, Bowling Green won a pair of one-goal games. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are at home for only the second time since mid-December, and they've won just two games over that stretch.

Bemidji State at Northern Michigan: This is a big series, as the visiting Beavers are trying to get into a home-ice spot and the host Wildcats are trying to hold onto fourth place in the league standings. Just four points separate the teams currently.

Alabama Huntsville at Lake Superior State: This is another series that could have postseason implications. The teams are tied for eighth place in the standings, two points ahead of last-place Alaska Anchorage. Two of those three teams will make the league playoffs (due to Alaska's playoff ban), and a sweep by either team would go a long way in helping secure a spot. Both of those teams sat out the postseason a year ago.

Michigan Tech at Alaska Anchorage: The Huskies have been rolling, keeping pace with Minnesota State, which sits four points ahead of them atop the league standings. They've also played nine straight home games. Tech is on the road for the first time since Jan. 9 and out of the U.P. for the first time since Jan. 3. The Seawolves, meanwhile, are desperate to get out of the WCHA's basement.

Looking at the the docket of WCHA games this weekend, I ended up picking splits across the board in my and Jack Hittinger's weekly prediction blog. Someone's going to sweep, though, right? Maybe MSU?

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