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NCHC Preview: Week 6

Can North Dakota protect Ralph Engelstad from the Bulldogs? Can Miami shutdown a dangerous Wisconsin team? Will Colorado College end their winless skid? This weekend brings the answers.

UMD Celebrates a Goal
UMD Celebrates a Goal
Matt Christians

Only two conference games will be played this weekend within the NCHC, both which should be very interesting match-ups.  Miami will host Wisconsin, which is bound to be one of the better series this weekend, while Nebraska Omaha hosts Michigan and St. Cloud State travels south to Alabama Huntsville to round non-conference play up.

Colorado College is off this weekend, but resumes action on Tuesday against Air Force.

#20 Minnesota Duluth (4-3-1) at #13 North Dakota (3-4-1)

It seems like forever since we've seen Minnesota Duluth play.  Last weekend the Bulldogs had the week off after splitting with Ohio State on the road.  North Dakota split with Nebraska Omaha last weekend, falling on Saturday 4-2, but battling back for the 3-2 road-win on Sunday.

UMD coach Scott Sandelin heads back to his Alma Mater (1982-86) and brings with him a talented team, which should allow this series to be pretty exciting.  The Bulldogs have scoring freshmen in Alex Iafallo and Kyle Osterberg, along with junior Caleb Herbert, a Washington Capitals prospect.  North Dakota can counter, though, with Rocco Grimaldi and Drake Caggiula, who've shown an amazing ability to create plays and find the back of the net.  With both teams showing incredible penalty kills, I wouldn't expect much power play action either.

North Dakota owns the overall record between the two teams 136-75-9, and have been unbeaten by Minnesota Duluth in 8 of the last 10 battles.  The Puck drops at 7:37 CT on Friday and 7:07 CT on Saturday.  My9 will air the game in Duluth, MidcoSN regionally, or you can view for a fee at UNDsports.com.

Western Michigan (3-3-2) at Denver (4-5-1)

Last weekend, Denver beat Colorado College in an OT shootout on Friday and cleanly won on Saturday, 2-1.  Western Michigan didn't do quite as well - falling to Northern Michigan in a 5-4 contest on Saturday and finishing Sunday's game in a 2-2 draw.

Both teams feature one of SBN's NCHC stars from last weekend in Pioneer goaltender Sam Brittain and Bronco forward Kyle Novak.  If Western Michigan plans to win this game, they're going to have to get by Denver's defense, which also has scoring potential as the #2 ranked scoring unit in the country (14g 12a).  Western Michigan's Shane Berschbach will be looking to extend his scoring-streak to 7 games come Friday night.

The Pioneers are 3-2-0 against the Broncos since the programs first met, and have yet to lose a game at home to WMU.  The puck drops at 7:37 MT on Friday and 7:07 MT on Saturday.  Friday's game can be seen on Root Sports TV.

#12 Wisconsin (3-2-1) at #8 Miami (6-3-1)

CBS Sports Network will be broadcasting this game on Friday, and they picked a good game to cover.  Wisconsin had last weekend to rest, but hosted Lake Superior in the previous weekend.  The Badgers tied on Friday night 3-3 in OT, but dismantled the Lakers 8-1 on Saturday.  Miami shutout St. Cloud State on Friday, but fell to the Huskies 2-1 in a tight game on Saturday.

Anaheim Ducks prospect Nic Kerdiles leads the team with eight points, followed by Michael Mersch, Tyler Barnes, and Jake McCabe who have all tallied seven points.  With that being said, the Badgers have plenty of scoring talent that could give Miami goaltenders Ryan McKay and Jay Williams a difficult time.  Although, the Redhawks can counter with Austin Czarnik and Washington Capitals prospect Riley Barber, who've tallied 30 combined points.  This game should exhibit some very good hockey.

Wisconsin owns the overall record at 1-3-0, but have never had a chance to play in Miami.  The puck drops at 6:30 ET on Friday and 7:05 ET on Saturday.  Don't forget to catch Friday's action on CBS Sports Network.

#2 Michigan (6-1-1) at Nebraska Omaha (5-5-0)

Coming out of a home split against North Dakota, Nebraska Omaha will be looking to improve their record this year against former CCHA member and #2 ranked Michigan.  The Mavericks beat North Dakota on Saturday Night in a 4-2 triumph before falling to UND 3-2 on Sunday.

It seems as though the Mavericks have found a go-to goaltender in Ryan Massa, who recorded his second consecutive win on Saturday, and should provide the Mavericks with solid goaltending.  Michigan had last weekend off, but slipped by Michigan Tech in the previous weekend by just one goal each night.  The Wolverines are dependent on a rather large freshmen class of eight, who've done a great job at adding tallies to the scoreboard.

Nebraska Omaha has won three of the last five meetings, but Michigan owns the all-time record at 7-26-3.  The puck drops at 8:07 CT on Friday and 7:07 CT on Saturday.  You can catch Friday's action on CBS Sports Network following the Miami/Wisconsin game.

#3 St. Cloud State (6-1-1) at Alabama Huntsville (0-8-0)

After a tough series against Miami in St. Cloud, the Huskies will take a trip down south where there isn't much snow on the ground to play a winless Alabama Huntsville.  SCSU split the series last weekend thanks to Ryan Faragher's stellar goaltending and the offensive magic of David Morley, who scored the Huskies's game winning goal in the third period.

It's not going to be easy for Mike Corbett to get his team their first win of the season against Bob Motzko's #3 ranked Huskies, especially after the way they've been able to execute.  This might be just the time for for the St. Cloud State to work on the power play that was held scoreless last weekend, but again, this is college hockey - we all know anything could happen.

St. Cloud State owns the all-time record, which stands at 2-0-0, where the Huskies have outscored the Chargers 12-3.  The puck drops at 7:07 on both Friday and Saturday.

Air Force (5-3-0) at Colorado College (1-6-1)

Colorado College will be looking to scrap up a little bit of momentum in this game, which is actually to be played on Tuesday.  After being swept by Western Michigan two weeks ago, and riding an extensive winless streak, I would imagine that Scott Owens has his Tigers hungry for a win.

Colorado College has won 9 of the last 11 meetings between the two teams, and most recently beat Air Force on October 19th, 2012 by a score of 6-2.

The puck drops on Tuesday at 7:07 MT.

Enjoy,

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Matt Christians covers Minnesota Duluth and the NCHC for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also give him a follow here ->

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