There’s a full docket of games this weekend, highlighted by three matchups between ranked teams. Before I get into what I’m most looking forward to tonight and tomorrow, here’s who the Top 20 will be facing:
Top 20 Matchups:
- No. 11 Michigan (0-1) vs. No. 19 Western Michigan (2-1) – These two in-state foes will be meeting for the first time since 2013 as the Wolverines hope to continue their dominance over the Broncos (71-33-10 all-time) in a home-and-home weekend series. WMU will look to build off its sweep last weekend versus Ferris State in which they outscored the opposition 9-3, heading to Ned Yost Arena on Friday before returning home to Lawson Arena for game two. The Broncos are going to have to rely hevaily on their defense to keep a Michigan attack that includes Will Lockwood, Josh Norris and Jack Becker off the scoresheet if they wish to keep things close. After a 6-3 exhibition loss to the U.S. Under-18 team last Friday, Mel Pearson’s squad is hopeful they’ll earn their first win of the season at WMU’s expense. Prediction: As seems to be the case most of the time, I see each team taking care of business on home ice and splitting the series.
- No. 7 Minnesota State (2-0) vs. No. 16 North Dakota (0-1-1) – Perhaps my favorite series on the slate, we have Minnesota State heading to Grand Forks for a nonconference showdown with the Fighting Hawks. On one end, we have the Mavericks entering the weekend coming off a home sweep of Boston University, while UND is searching for its first victory after losing one and tying another to Bemidji State last week. Luckily for the Fighting Hawks, they get two chances in front of their home crowd to knock off a top 10 team and make up some ground in the Top 20 after slipping three spots in the latest rankings. This will be a major test early on for Minnesota State, as history shows it has not fared well when they play at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Against UND on the road, the Mavericks hold an abysmal record of 6-23-3 all-time, their last win coming in 2006. Prediction: The Fighting Hawks not only get in the win column, but are victorious in both games to earn a big early-season sweep and keep their home streak against Mankato alive.
- No. 12 Northeastern (2-0) vs. No. 20 Union (2-0-1) – In this matinee we have two teams on the rise in this week’s top 20. Northeastern jumped three spots to No. 12 after an emphatic sweep over Sacred Heart, while Union entered the rankings for the first time this season following a 1-0-1 series against Omaha. The Dutchmen will lean on senior forward Cole Maier (3g, 4a) to try and break down a stingy Huskies defense that has allowed just two goals led by sophomore goaltender Cayden Primeau. Prediction: Union’s stay in the top 20 will be a short one, as I anticipate Northeastern flexing its muscles to sweep the Dutchmen.
Other matchups to watch:
- No. 1 Ohio State vs. UMass
- No. 2 Notre Dame vs. Omaha
- No. 4 St. Cloud State vs. Northern Michigan
- No. 9 Denver vs. Alaska
- No. 15 Wisconsin vs. Clarkson