Friday, November 9, 2007

Weekend Preview: Nov. 9-11

St. Cloud State at Michigan Tech
Friday – 6 p.m. CST
Saturday – 6 p.m. CST

After gaining a split with the Wisconsin Badgers last weekend in Madison, the Michigan Tech Huskies return home to Houghton to tangle with the St. Cloud State Huskies. Michigan Tech currently sits alone in first place in the WCHA, having gained eight points in six conference games. They managed an impressive road split at the Kohl Center, which as always a difficult place to play. But Tech is an experienced team, which will certainly play to their advantage as this season progresses. St. Cloud State, meanwhile, is not a veteran team, and it showed in their first road series of the year, which featured a pair of losses to Minnesota Duluth. Look for a pair of closely contested games between these two teams. Michigan Tech won the only two meetings between the two teams last season.

Minnesota Duluth at Colorado College
Friday – 8:30 p.m. CST
Saturday – 8 p.m. CST

The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, who are a somewhat surprising 4-1-1 overall after six games, head back to the state of Colorado this weekend after taking two points from the Denver Pioneers two weeks ago. This time around, they’ll head down to Colorado College to take on the Tigers, who are coming off a split at North Dakota. They key do UMD’s early season success has been the play of sophomore Alex Stalock and the defensive core. Overall, UMD is yielding just 1.67 goals per game. They are averaging just 2.67, so there isn’t a lot of room for error at this point. CC, meanwhile, is just 3-3 on the year, but they have played one of the toughest schedules in the country, with four of their six games coming away from the World Arena.

Minnesota vs. Minnesota State (Home and Home)
Friday – 7:30 p.m. CST (Live on Charter, FSN North, and FCS Central)
Saturday – 7 p.m. CST (Live on FSN North and FCS Atlantic)

The struggling Golden Gophers take their act to Mankato on Friday night to take on the Minnesota State Mavericks in the Mavs’ home opener. Minnesota’s power play is on a well-documented 0-30 streak, and will need to improve if they hope to capture any points in this weekend’s series. The Mavericks feature a hot goaltender in the form of junior Mike Zacharias, which may be all they need to topple the offensively-challenged Gophers. Minnesota was 3-0-1 against the Mavericks last season, but easily could have lost all four of the contests, so they will need to bring their “A” game – especially on the road on Friday – if they hope to snap out of their funk.

North Dakota at Wisconsin
Friday – 7 p.m. CST
Saturday – 7 p.m. CST (Live on FSN North - Wisconsin and FCS Pacific)

This is absolutely the marquee series of the weekend, as the Fighting Sioux head to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. UND has split each of their first two WCHA series – the first was a road split at Michigan Tech, where they arguably outplayed the Huskies on both nights, and the other was a home split against Colorado College where they clearly outplayed the Tigers on both nights, so there’s little reason for concern for the pre-season favorites. The Badgers are coming off a home split versus Michigan Tech. They showed good resolve in scoring three third period goals on Saturday night in their 4-2 win. The Badgers’ ability to score goals will be challenged this weekend, as UND will likely get their fair share of chances against UW’s youthful defensive core.

Denver and Alaska Anchorage are off this week.

Other Noteable Games

Notre Dame at Miami
Friday – 7 p.m. CST
Saturday – 6 p.m. CST

The Miami Redhawks, who are the No. 1 team in the nation in both major polls, will look to remain undefeated on the season as they take on the Fighting Irish in a key CCHA series this weekend in Oxford. Miami has been scoring at an outrageous clip (five goals per game!) and have been without last year’s leading scorer Nathan Davis for much of the season. Notre Dame’s goalies (Jordan Pearce and/or Brad Phillips) will need to play very well to keep their team in the games, though the Fighting Irish have a very nice stable of forwards that should be able to hold their own.

Boston College at New Hampshire
Saturday – 6 p.m. CST

The Eagles and Wildcats were, as usual, two of the preseason favorites in Hockey East, and both are off to solid starts to their seasons. New Hampshire had a hiccup in last weekend’s loss at home versus Northeastern, but is an impressive 4-1-0 overall with wins against Colorado College (2) and Boston University (1). The Eagles have just one loss on the season – to the No. 2 team in the nation (Michigan) – and have gotten very good play out of freshman goalie John Muse, which has helped ease any concerns BC fans had when Cory Schneider elected to turn pro this summer after his junior season.