Mark Sadowski via Flickr
Critical conference points are on the line in five league series this weekend.
It's final exam time at many of the schools around the league, and every team is trying to cram in some last minute points before the holiday break. Ten of the league's 12 teams are in action, including a big-time rivalry in North Dakota and Denver.
Denver at North Dakota
This is always a fun series. It's two top teams in the WCHA, two rivals, and always an excuse to post this video of George Gwozdecky walking across the ice after getting kicked out of a game.
The Pioneers had a bit of a scare this past week when rumors surfaced that freshman Quentin Shore was considering leaving the Pioneers to join friend and former teammate Seth Jones with the Portland Winterhawks, but ultimately, perhaps swayed by Portland's recent disciplinary penalties, Shore decided to stick with Denver.
Minnesota at Colorado College
Don Lucia returns to Colorado Springs, a place where he once led the Tigers to a national title game. He talked about making the move from Fairbanks, Alaska to Colorado College, not a popular move with his wife, with Jess Myers in a must-read article.
This will be CC's last chance to play in front of their home fans until mid-January. All in all, that's not terrible, since I think most teams would prefer to be on the road a little more over the holidays since hometown crowds usually aren't as good, with few students.
Alaska-Anchorage at Minnesota State
Last weekend I joked that after a few wins, everybody starts showing up after there were four members of the press sitting in the press box at Saturday's games. After winning four straight, that media attention carried over into the week. There were features on freshman forward Teddy Blueger by The Hockey News, CCollege Hockey News, the Mankato Free Press, and some jerk's blog.
It will be important for Minnesota State to keep that momentum rolling this weekend, when last place Alaska-Anchorage comes to town. Not dropping any points the past two weekends has allowed Minnesota State to climb back into contention for home ice, and this is a good opportunity for the Mavericks to keep pace with the big boys in the league.
For Alaska-Anchorage, they suffered another departure. This time, sophomore Corbin Karl left the team.
Nebraska-Omaha at St. Cloud State
After a disappointing stretch that bottomed out with a loss to Alaska-Anchorage last weekend on the road, St. Cloud finishes the first half of their season with two WCHA series at home against future NCHC conference mates in Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College. In fact, these are the first two of ten straight homes games on the Huskies schedule, making this a good opportunity for St. Cloud, who currently sits 20th in the RPI, to make a move into the territory needed to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.
Nebraska-Omaha's Ryan Walters was named national player of the month for the month of November. I believe that legally, this means that he has domain over all elections, givings of thanks, and mustaches.
Bemidji State at Minnesota-Duluth
It's the Battle of Highway 2(or at least close enough to Highway 2 in Duluth's case).
Bemidji State is at 'ground zero' after getting swept in Mankato last weekend, which I'm guessing is a starting over reference and not a 9/11 reference.
There's a lot of similarities between UMD freshmen Austin Farley and Tony Cameranesi, including that they both score a lot.
Michigan Tech at Wisconsin.
Both these games are on television on Fox Sports Pacific this weekend, because when I think Michigan Tech, I think Pacific.
Mark Zengerle is back and ready to go for Wisconsin. With Nic Kerdiles back too, this should be as close to a full roster as Wisconsin has had all season.
Mel Pearson still hasn't officially faced any discipline for his blow-up after losing this past Tuesday, but I have to believe something is coming next week.
Be sure to follow our coverage of this series at buckyhockey.com this weekend.