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Must Win Weekend

As we get down to this late in the season, every game and every point is absolutely critical. We're at a key point in the stretch run where everyone is pretty much still in the race for home ice or a league title and very little is decided.

In the WCHA, it's all about holding serve for many teams.

St. Cloud State will take on Alaska-Anchorage.UAA Hockey Fan Blog previewed this series. Anchorage has shown the potential to steal points, especially against the Huskies. Before the Huskies 8-1-1 streak over their past ten games, the Huskies lost a Saturday night game in Anchorage. The Huskies need to find a way to sweep this weekend though. They can't afford to walk away from this series with less than four points. Every game the stretch is critical both for home ice in the playoffs and for a potential NCAA tournament bid.

The same is true for Minnesota State this weekend against Michigan Tech. The possible NCAA tournament bid is out of the question, but the Mavericks could still make it into 5th place in the WCHA with some great play and a little luck. They need to take care of business on their home ice like they did against Anchorage three weeks ago though.

Wisconsin travels to Duluth to take on the Bulldogs. The WCHA regular season title has slowly been slipping away from the Badgers, but they have a chance to get back on track this weekend against a struggling Duluth team. It's difficult to win on the road, but Duluth has had trouble defending their home ice this season against everyone but the Gophers. The Badgers really need to win on Friday night to gain the confidence that they can win with Shane Connelly in net and to set the tone for the weekend.

North Dakota travels to Colorado Springs to face Colorado College. Both teams come into the weekend on losing streaks and all of a sudden, desperately need victories to make sure they stay at home for the first round of the playoffs. A sweep helps either team in the battle for fourth place, while a split would aid St. Cloud most in the race for fourth place.

It's a little more business as usual for the CCHA this weekend in that most of the games will be close, hard-fought games as teams jockey for position throughout the league. Everything is still way too close to call.

The perfect example of this is the series between Lake Superior and Nebraska-Omaha. Lake Superior is in second place in the CCHA, while Nebraska-Omaha is in 7th place. If the Mavericks were able to sweep the Lakers at home this weekend, they would pass the Lakers in the standings. The series is an interesting battle between Omaha's Scott Parse and LSSU's Jeff Jakaitis for the title of the CCHA's best Hobey Baker candidate.

Ohio State travels to Michigan this weekend. Ohio State's season so far has been a bit of a disappointment. They're having trouble scoring enough goals to support they're tough defense. Michigan has struggled lately as well. Billy Sauer hasn't been playing his best in goal, but it looks like Michigan might go with the freshmen down the stretch, which I think is the right move.

Michigan State will play at Notre Dame this weekend. Michigan State should be favored in this series, but these are the types of games that Michigan State struggles with most. I'd expect Notre Dame to steal at least one game this weekend.

First place Miami plays Alaska-Fairbanks. After a fast start, Fairbanks season has turned pretty disappointing. They seem to be coming out on the bottom of the CCHA shuffle this year. Miami has been incredibly impressive this year. There's not much to say about the RedHawks until they get to the playoffs. They could be one of the most well-rounded, complete teams, assuming their young goaltending duo holds up.

The last league series is between Ferris State and Western Michigan. This is always an intense rivalry game between the two teams from western Michigan. As ugly as things have been for the Broncos this season, they could move out of last place with some points this weekend. Ferris State is in the middle of the standings and a couple wins could move them up quite a few spots, while a couple losses could move them all the way down in the standings.